This is a bright, fresh, and impressively fruity ice cream that rises above the strawberry pack. A touch of balsamic vinegar adds sweet complexity and some of the acidity lost by cooking the fruit.
What Worked: Even with lame out of season strawberries, this tasted refreshingly honest. It's berries and cream, pure and simple, with a touch of balsamic kick. I didn't strain my strawberry purée, and I'm glad I didn't—I love the tiny crunchy seeds.
What Didn't: Compared to Bi-Rite's other ice creams, this is definitely firmer and more icy. It's the hazard of using fruit in ice cream, and honestly one I'm okay with, but if you want a transcendentally creamy scoop, this isn't the one for you. Also, the recipe instructions on cooking the strawberries aren't very precise. You have to do it mostly by feel, which means you have to decide for yourself how to balance cooking out the water from the berries against not overcooking them.
Suggested Tweaks: No tips to overcome this problem, sadly. It's the nature of the beast. You'd do best to eat this as soft serve or let it soften on the counter for 10 minutes before scooping.
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- Yield:makes about 1 quart
- Active time: 1 hour
- Total time:1 hour, plus 2 hours to overnight to chill
- For the Strawberry Purée
- 1 1/2 pints (3 cups) strawberries, hulled and halved or quartered
- 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- For the Base
- 5 egg yolks
- 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 3/4 cups heavy cream
- 3/4 cups 1% or 2% milk
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
Cook the berries: Combine the berries with the 2 1/2 tablespoons sugar and 2 teaspoons vinegar in a large skillet. Put the pan over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently, until the strawberries are soft and the liquid they release has reduced somewhat, 6 to 8 minutes.
Let cool slightly, then transfer the berries and their juice to a blender or food processor. Purée until smooth and refrigerate.
Make the base: In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk the yolks just to break them up, then whisk in half of sugar (1/4 cup). Set aside.
In a heavy stainless steel pan, stir together the cream, milk, salt, and the remaining sugar (1/4 cup) and put the pan over medium-high heat. When the mixture approaches a bare simmer, reduce the heat to medium.
Carefully scoop out about 1/2 cup of the hot cream mixture and, whisking the eggs constantly, add the cream to the bowl with the yolks. Returning to the pan of cream on the stove, use a heatproof spatula to stir the cream as you slowly pour the egg and cream mixture from the bowl back into the pan.
Continue to cook the mixture carefully over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thickened, coats the back of a spatula, and leaves a clear mark when you run your finger across it, 1 to 2 minutes longer.
Strain the base through a fine-mesh strainer and into a clean container. Set the container into an ice bath, wash your spatula, and use it to stir the base occasionally until it is cool. Then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate the base for at least 2 hours overnight.
Freeze the ice cream: Whisk the strawberry purée and the remaining 2 teaspoons vinegar into the chilled base.
Freeze in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer's instructions. While the ice cream is churning, put the container you'll use to store the ice cream into the freezer. Enjoy right away or, for a firmer ice cream, freeze for at least four hours.