Recently, my roommate brought home a bunch of lemons from a co-worker’s lemon tree. These lemons were HUGE. Like grapefruit-sized, huge.
Since there were so many, I wasn’t quite sure how to utilize them. I solicited ideas, and was met with suggestions for lemon pound cake, homemade limoncello, lemon bars, you name it. Even with all these lovely ideas swirling around in my head, I always have a weakness for ice cream, and I’m one of those crazy people who could eat ice cream even in the dead of winter. Thankfully it’s not that cold where I live, so ice cream can always been in season! When life gives you lemons, you make a whole bunch of lemon-strawberry ice cream! Well, you do if you’re me.
When searching for an appropriate ice cream recipe, I found lots of variations. Some calling for no eggs, some for all cream, some for no cream but half and half or milk, etc. In the end, I settled on one from Gourmet magazine (RIP!). It was a simple, traditional ice cream calling for eggs and half and half, so it would be slightly less rich than one calling for heavy cream.
Plain lemon would have been just fine, but strawberries and lemons are always a wonderful combo. So, I mixed up some strawberry compote that was added to the finished ice cream. It’s subtle, but oh so good. Very springtime-y, if you’re longing for warmer temperatures in your neck of the woods! It’s going to be 74 here this weekend, a perfect time to bust out my container of this stuff (or what’s left of it) and revel in the gorgeous weather. It might make your winter blues subside just a bit!
lemon-strawberry ice cream
(adapted from Gourmet magazine; yields about one quart)
1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
2 cups half-and-half, divided
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
one or two drops yellow food coloring, optional
for the strawberry compote
4 oz frozen strawberries
2 Tablespoons water
3 Tablespoons (2 oz) good quality strawberry jam
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon sugar
pinch of salt
1 drop red food coloring, optional
First, make the ice cream base. In a medium bowl, whisk together the zest, the lemon juice, the sugar, and the eggs until smooth. Transfer this mixture to a medium saucepan and whisk in 1 cup of half and half and the vanilla. Cook the mixture over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until it starts to thicken. There may be a few bubbles at the edges of the pan, but you don’t want this to boil or it will scramble the eggs. Also, whisking constantly is a good way to keep the heat even and prevent curdled eggs, as well. Pour this lemon custard through a strainer into a clean bowl, pressing hard on the zest to extract all the flavor. Cover the top with plastic wrap, letting the plastic touch the surface, and refrigerate until the mixture is fully cold, a few hours or preferably overnight. If you can’t (or don’t want to) wait that long, prepare an ice bath in a bowl larger than the bowl of hot custard. Fill a large bowl about halfway with cold water and ice, and set the bowl of custard into it, stirring occasionally until cold. When you’re ready to make your ice cream, grab your ice cold lemon custard and whisk in your last cup of half and half. Pour this into your ice cream machine and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
While the custard is chilling, use this time to make the strawberry compote!
In a medium saucepan, stir together all the compote ingredients and put on medium heat. Let the mixture come to a boil, stirring constantly so the compote won’t burn. Once the strawberries come to a boil, continue to cook for 2-3 minutes until it’s slightly reduced and thicker. Make sure to stir constantly while it’s boiling! Once the berries have broken down slightly, mash them with a spoon or spatula as the compote is being stirred. This will easily break up the berries so there’s no huge chunks of fruit in the ice cream (unless that’s what you’re after, don’t mash them). Once it’s properly cooked, pour the hot compote into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap in the same method as the ice cream custard. Let chill in the fridge until fully cold, about an hour or two.
When the ice cream is done freezing in your ice cream machine, immediately turn out into a large chilled bowl and pour the strawberry compote over the top. With a spatula, fold gently only a few times (maybe 3 or 4) to somewhat incorporate the compote into the ice cream. You don’t want to fold and stir too much or it’ll just disappear into the ice cream, and who wants that? Not me, for sure.
Once the ice cream is all cozy and friendly with the compote, pour it into a freezer-safe container with a lid that closes tightly. My container of choice would be those white paper pint containers like storebought ice cream comes in (I know my local Smart & Final store carries these), but I was fresh out so I used a 5 cup Glad-ware container and it worked just fine.
Freeze the ice cream for several hours or overnight to let it firm up properly for scooping. Go ahead, take a spoonful out of the container before you freeze it. Good, huh? I thought so.
This ice cream doesn’t need much in the way of garnish or accompaniments, though some good shortbread would go very nicely, indeed. For all of you bogged down in piles of ice and snow, or just frigid temperatures, grab yourself a bowl of this tart, sunny ice cream. I guarantee it’ll make you think you’re smack in the middle of spring, even if the calendar sadly says otherwise.
If you make this, feel free to leave a comment to let me know how you liked it! I’m a sucker for ice cream, so expect many more ice cream-related posts in the future, especially during the dreadfully hot summertime. It’s on its way!