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Fresh Strawberry Ice Cream

Spring is turning into summer, temperatures are soaring, and the time for strawberry ice cream is now.  I’ve been buying beautiful, sweet, local berries at the Farmer’s Market for weeks now and this week is no exception.  Last week I ate the strawberries fresh as a snack, as dessert, in salad, and even blended a few into a salad dressing.  But this week, with 100 degree heat quickly approaching, I needed something frozen.

This ice cream might seem a bit extravagant with the heavy cream, egg yolks, and vanilla bean, but homemade ice cream is meant to be a treat and I like it rich.  Perhaps next week I’ll give you a more figure-friendly sorbet recipe, but there’s nothing wrong with splurging on real ice cream from time to time.  Enjoy!

Fresh Strawberry Ice Cream

1 pound strawberries, washed and stemmed
1 cup sugar, divided
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 cups heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 vanilla bean pod (or 1 teaspoon real vanilla extract)
4 egg yolks

1. In a medium bowl, lightly mash strawberries with 1/4 cup sugar and the tablespoon of lemon juice.  Toss to combine and set aside.

2. In a saucepan, stir together cream, remaining 3/4 cup of sugar, and salt.  With a sharp knife, split the vanilla bean pod in half lengthwise and using the tip of the knife, scrape the seeds into the pot of cream (if using extract instead of vanilla bean, you will stir it in later); add the pod halves to the pot, too.  Bring the cream mixture to a simmer over medium heat, then turn the temperature all the way down to low.

3. In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks until smooth.  Slowly add a ladleful of the hot cream mixture to the egg yolks, whisking continuously.  Slowly pour the yolk mixture back into the pot of cream and whisk until incorporated.  Bring the liquid back to a simmer and cook, stirring, for 5 – 6 minutes until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.  Strain the mixture through a sieve into a medium bowl.

4. Puree the strawberry mixture in a blender or food processor until smooth.  Stir the strawberry puree into the cream mixture until completely incorporated.  If using vanilla extract instead of vanilla bean, stir extract in now.  Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming while cooling.  Place bowl in the refrigerator and allow the mixture to cool completely – at least two hours.  After it is well chilled, freeze mixture in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer directions.

Recipe notes: This recipe works for a 1 1/2 quart or larger ice cream maker.  I use the Cuisinart ICE-20 and have been very happy with it.  My ice cream was soft-serve consistency after about 25 minutes.  I placed it in a plastic container in the refrigerator for another couple hours to firm up.

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