My torturous relationship with dessert continues with this batch of ice cream and a fruit topping to go with it. I didn’t plan for these two to go together, but I’m happy they were a match. The ice cream is rich and, well, creamy. Super thick–almost like a custard. The compote on top is also rich, from the natural sugars in the fruit, but it also has a light tang that echoes the characteristic flavor of buttermilk. So when you put the two together…it’s just the right combo.
Why buttermilk? Why not. I’ve used it many times before in savory and sweet dishes. Whenever I have an abundance of dairy and eggs on hand, my mind immediately goes to ice cream. I knew the buttermilk would be just the thing to add to this batch. The compote is an ode to fruit and herbs, mostly inspired by a trifle served at Mare. One of their desserts features macerated fruit with tarragon, and the flavors worked so well together. I borrowed a bit from that idea with a simple reduction of ripe blackberries, sugar and lemon. The tarragon is often paired with blackberries, which I attribute to its grassy licorice flavor.
Deep down, I might be a very evil person. As much as I love to make and eat sweets, I hate having them in close proximity. Because then I’ll be the only one eating it. The key is giving it all away to those who deserve a little sugar in their lives. That’s exactly what happened with this ice cream. I filled a large container with most of the custardy, cold treat and set it aside to hand off to a friend. I knew it would be in good hands. The rest was all mine, on hand for a few dips of a spoon here and there. With Memorial Day weekend upon us, here’s a recipe you can put to good use.
- Ice Cream
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 2 jumbo eggs
- 6 jumbo egg yolks
- 2 cups sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 18 ounces blackberries
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 heaping tablespoon fresh chopped tarragon
- For the ice cream, pour the buttermilk, milk, heavy cream and vanilla into a heavy sauce pan over medium high heat. Set the flame to medium, and bring the dairy to just under a simmer.
- While the milk heats, whisk the eggs, egg yolks, sugar and salt until the mixture is thick, creamy and ribbony. Use a ladle to add about 1 cup of the warm dairy to the eggs, whisking until the mixture is well combined. Transfer back into the original sauce pan.
- Set over medium heat again, and cook, stirring constantly, until the custard thickens. If using a thermometer, the mixture should be about 170 degrees. Or, dip a spoon into the custard, drawing your finger down the back of the spoon. If the line remains, the custard is ready. Remove from heat, pour into a bowl, and bring to room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap, making sure the saran touches the surface of the custard. Transfer to the refrigerator for at least 8 hours, or up to overnight.
- Pour the chilled custard into the frozen ice cream base, and churn according to package instructions. You can eat the ice cream immediately as “soft serve”, or transfer to airtight containers and freeze for 2-4 hours, or until set.
- While the ice cream freezes, prepare the compote. Place the berries, sugar, lemon zest and juice into a wide pan over medium-high flame. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 20-25 minutes, mashing the fruit lightly, until the mixture has reduced and thickened. Remove from heat.
- Stir the salt, pepper and tarragon into the compote. Cool for about 20 minutes, if desired, before topping ice cream.