Strawberry Ice Cream with Balsamic Caviar

I LOVE ICE CREAM!  When I was a kid, my mom would make us pray for needy people everywhere.  Sometimes we would pray for needy people that lived far away, like India, and sometimes our needy people would be down the street, like Glendale, California.  One day I discovered we were fresh out of ice cream and thought it would be a very good idea to add our family to the prayer list of needy people.  I thought our family had hit rock bottom because we were out of ice cream!  I used to give up ice cream for lent, but that just made me cranky.  Not a smart move.  So eventually I gave up giving up ice cream.

I’m not kidding when I say I love ice cream.  I really, really mean it.

I love the roasted strawberry ice cream recipe from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams At Home cookbook.  I also love Michael Chiarello’s balsamic caviar recipe from Bottega…Bold Italian Flavors from the Heart of California’s Wine Country.  Strawberry and balsamic is a classic pairing, so why not combine strawberry ice cream and balsamic caviar?

I read about making ice cream in Heston Blumenthal’s At Home cookbook.  I used my stand mixer fitted with a paddle, added the ice cream base and finely crushed dry ice, and voila!  Ice cream in about a minute!

Balsamic Caviar

Ingredients

Pour the grapeseed oil in a bowl and place in the freezer for about an hour.  The oil will thicken and become cloudy.  The grapeseed oil is perfect for this application as it is a neutral oil that won’t impart any flavor to your finished product.

Place balsamic vinegar in a sauce pan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Allow to boil for 1 minute.

Place the gold gelatin sheets in a rimmed baking sheet.  Add enough water to cover the gelatin sheets.  Add ice to chill.  Let the gelatin sheets soften for 5 minutes.

Softened Gold Gelatin Sheets

Squeeze the  softened gelatin sheets to remove excess water and whisk into the vinegar.  Bring to a boil for another minute.  Strain the mixture into a bowl and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.

Caviar Maker

Place the mixture into the base of the caviar maker and slowly press the syringe to release small drops of the balsamic mixture into the chilled oil.  For more pictures, check out my other blog, Sloppy, Drunk and Delicious.  You can make the caviar with a squeeze bottle, but you will only get one drop at a time.  Chill for a few minutes before straining the mixture.

Balsamic Caviar

And there you have it,  balsamic caviar!  It looks just like the real deal!

Jeni’s Roasted Strawberry and Buttermilk Ice Cream

Ingredients

Roasted Strawberries
  • 1 pint fresh strawberries
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
Ice Cream Base
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons tapioca starch (you can use cornstarch, but it’s better with the tapioca starch if you can find it)
  • 2 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt (Jeni uses fine sea salt)
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons glucose (Jeni calls for corn syrup.  I like the glucose because it is more gooey and less sweet)
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 375°.  Hull and slice strawberries into 1/2″ pieces.  Place in a baking dish and sprinkle with 1/3 cup sugar.   Roast in the oven for 20 minutes, just until softened.  Let cool slightly.

Prepping strawberries for roasting

Add the strawberries and the lemon juice to a food processor and puree the mixture.  You will only need half of the puree for this recipe, so I say, use it to make another batch of ice cream!

To make the ice cream base:  Make a slurry by combining 2 tablespoons of milk and the tapioca starch. Set aside.

Place the cream cheese and salt in a bowl, whisk to combine.

Place the remaining milk, cream, sugar and glucose in a very tall saucepan.  Place over medium-high heat and let it come to a rolling boil.  Continue to cook at the rolling boil for 4 minutes.  Shut off the heat and whisk in your slurry.  Return the mixture to a boil for 1 minute.  Remove from heat and whisk into the cream cheese, removing all the lumps.  You can always give it a quick spin in a blender to help smooth out all of the lumps.  Whisk in the strawberry puree and buttermilk to the ice cream base until well incorporated.

Pour the ice cream base in a heavy duty gallon size ziplock bag.  Submerge the sealed bag into an ice bath.  Let stand 30 minutes, or until well chilled.

Insert a small chunk of dry ice into a folded clean kitchen towel.  Crush the dry ice into a fine powder with a rolling pin.  Do not handle the dry ice with your bare hands as it is very cold at  minus 109.3ºF!  Make sure there are no large pieces as you definitely would not enjoy biting into a piece of dry ice.

Ice Cream using Dry Ice

Add your ice cream base to a stand mixer fitted with a paddle.  Do not use a whisk as that would incorporate too much air to your ice cream.  Mix at medium speed and slowly add your finely crushed dry ice to the mixture.  You should have ice cream in 30-60 seconds.  If it’s still too soft, incorporate more dry ice.

Strawberry Ice Cream

And here is the ice cream!  Top it with balsamic caviar, and you’ve got something special!

FUN FACTS:

  • Dry ice is frozen carbon dioxide.  It is the gas we exhale while breathing and the gas plants use during photosynthesis.  It’s also used to make soda water.  Dry ice changes from a solid to a gas without becoming liquid.  That’s why it’s called dry ice.  It works really well here because it is so cold, that the ice cream freezes very quickly, allowing very small ice crystals to form.  The result is a very smooth and creamy textured ice cream.
  • Glucose is an invert sugar.  It retains moisture, adds body and reduces the chance of crystallization.  It keeps your ice cream soft and smooth, even after it’s been in the freezer for a while.
  • Tapioca starch and corn starch are natural thickeners that also absorb and hold water.  Adding it to your ice cream mixture also reduces the crystallization.