We are in the throes of summer and our produce tables are teeming with blueberries! We have both local, cultivated berries and the wild Maine variety. I love blueberries. The tiny fruits burst with memories of childhood summers spent foraging for the sweet berries to bake muffins and pies.
There are so many ways to be creative with blueberries. One of my favorite treats as a child was a blueberry pancake breakfast. Of course, often during the summer there is less desire for a large breakfast. We spend our summer days soaking in as much outdoor air as possible, then relax with dinner and dessert. And, what makes a better summer dessert than ice cream?
Once the idea of combining my favorite childhood breakfast with the quintessential summer dessert had popped into my head, I couldn’t shake it. Co-workers greeted my idea with excitement and intrigue – so encouraged, I began researching recipes. In the end, I devised my own technique. The results? Amazing! And, woefully, already gone.
I started with a basic custard style base using eggs from Chip-In farm, heavy cream from Hatchland Farm, and buttermilk from Maine. I prepared the ice cream separately from the blueberry swirl and combined them before the final setting freeze.
Blueberry Pancake Ice Cream
For the ice cream:
2 cups heavy cream
1 1/4 cups sugar
10 large egg yolks
2 cups buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
Bring the cream and 1 cup of the sugar to a simmer over medium heat. While that is coming up to temperature, whisk the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar into the egg yolks. Once the cream mixture comes to a simmer, remove from the heat and slowly temper in the eggs. Once combined, return to the heat and cook slowly, stirring occasionally until the mixture can coat the back of your spoon. Remove from the heat and strain into a large bowl. Stir in the buttermilk, vanilla, and salt. Cool the mixture completely and allow to rest, preferably overnight. A trick I learned, which helps make the freezing process easier, is to freeze one cup of the mixture separately while the flavors set overnight. When this frozen bit is added to the rest of the mixture it brings the temperature down, allowing for faster freezing and a smoother texture.
For the blueberry swirl:
1 cup sugar
1 cup blueberries
zest of one small lemon
Combine the berries and sugar in a sauce pan over medium-high heat. Mash the berries into the sugar, releasing all the juice. Bring this mixture up to 212°F, stirring frequently. A candy thermometer helps, but you can use an instant-read variety, checking regularly. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the lemon zest. It should be very thick and gelatinous. Transfer to a small bowl and allow the compote to cool.
When preparing to freeze the ice cream, be sure to familiarize yourself with the manufacturer’s instructions for your particular ice cream machine. I used the attachment for my stand mixer. This is when I break up the one cup I had frozen and stir it into the ice cream base. Continue stirring until the chunks of frozen base are completely incorporated, then pour the mixture into your ice cream maker.
Generally the mixers can freeze the ice cream to a soft-serve consistency. This is too thin to fold in the swirl, so transfer the ice cream to a glass bowl and return to the freezer for an hour. After the ice cream partially sets, remove it from the freezer and, using a rubber spatula, fold in the blueberry compote. Return to the freezer, place a piece of parchment on the surface of the ice cream (to prevent crystallization) and allow the ice cream to continue to solidify for at least four hours.
On a hot sunny afternoon, scoop a bit into a bowl, adorn it with more fresh blueberries, maybe even a maple cookie (*wink wink*) and you’ll have a delightful summer treat!
Nicole Roach is a keen kitchen experimenter and a member of both the produce and register teams at Formaggio Kitchen Cambridge.