Sunday, June 9, 2013

Strawberry Rhubarb Ice Cream and Compote

So it's early June, which means that it's strawberry and rhubarb season here in NYC.  Having picked up some of each at the Union Square Greenmarket, I wanted to try to use them in something a little more creative than the usual pie.  Then I saw my ice cream maker sitting in the kitchen begging to be used.


I figured that my plan would be to try to create a strawberry-rhubarb mixture/preserve to add to a typical ice cream base.  I remembered the cape gooseberry/poha berry compote that I made last autumn and thought that it might be a good idea for the fruit component of the ice cream base.  But how much strawberries vs. rhubarb to use?  

Luckily, I found the following recipe online:

I also thought a little spice would make the flavors stand out a bit more, and decided on ginger.  My final recipe is below:


Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote (w/ Ginger)

1 lb rhubarb stalks - cleaned and chopped horizontally into small pieces - 1/2" or 3/4" in length
1 lb strawberries - washed, dried, and cut in half  (this should be about a pint and a half)
1/2 cup light brown sugar (cane sugar/turbinado works too)
1/2 cup water
2-3 very thin slices of ginger from the root (optional)
1 tsp of fresh vanilla (or a small amount of vanilla extract)

Combine all of the ingredients in a large sautee pan/wok over medium high heat until the mixture comes to a heavy boil.  Then, reduce heat to medium low and let the mixture simmer down until the water has been released from the fruit and evaporated and it reaches the consistency that you want.  Skim off any foam/scum that develops, or mix it back into the simmering mixture.  Remove from heat and let it cool to room temperature.  Can be eaten immediately or stuck in fridge.

Note: you can also boil down in a saucepan, but this will take much longer to cook as the surface area to volume ratio is lower, and thus the water won't evaporate as quickly.  I learned this the hard way, as my compote took 40 minutes to simmer down to a decent consistency.

Ingredients loaded...


Near end of simmer.


I then took some of the cooled compote and made ice cream using the following recipe:


Strawberry-Rhubarb Ice Cream (makes approx 1 qt)

1 3/4 cups of Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote
1 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream (3/4 cup of which is reserved in a mixing bowl over an ice water bath)
1/2 cup whole milk
3 egg yolks (large eggs)
1/2 cup sugar (cane or white) - Note: In order to avoid oversweetening, I probably would start with 1/4 cup, then keep adding to taste.
Dash of vanilla/extract

**Basically, the ratio of dairy to Compote to sugar is 3.5/3.5/1 - so if you want to use soy milk (or ultra soft tofu could work too, I'd imagine), I'd just follow the ratio (or you could just freeze the compote w/o any dairy - may be somewhat tart, though).**

In a saucepan, combine 1/2 cup of the cream, the Compote, the milk, and the sugar over medium low heat.  Heat until just barely at a simmer.  While heating, beat the egg yolks in a small bowl.  

When dairy/Compote mixture is barely at a simmer, add the egg yolks via "tempering", by pouring some of the mixture into the egg yolks while beating them, repeating once or twice more, then pouring the egg yolk + dairy mix back into the remainder of the dairy/Compote mix.  Stir together, then let simmer slowly until custard thickens (coats back of spoon test).  

Then, pour the hot custard base into the chilled bowl holding the remaining 3/4 cup of cream.  Stir together.  Let the custard sit in the ice water bath until near room temperature, then stick in fridge to finish cooling.  Add ice cream base into ice cream machine and follow instructions.

For a fun finish, add sliced fresh strawberries to the ice cream during the last minute or two of churning.


The verdict?

The compote tasted fresh and slightly more tart than sweet, which is what I wanted.  The ginger adds a bit of a spicy surprise to the flavor.  It is great with cream cheese on a bagel, or as a cheesecake sauce.

The ice cream was very smooth and blended, and tasted almost like a berry smoothie.  Unfortunately, the ginger flavor got lost in translation, but it was still a very tasty ice cream anyway.  The ice cream remained softer than the norm, even after freezing.

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