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Black Raspberry Ice Cream

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Merrill's daughter Clara has quite the appetite -- and it's all Merrill can do to keep up. Armed with her greenmarket bag, a wooden spoon and a minimal amount of fuss, she steps into the fray.

Today: Homemade black raspberry ice cream for hot summer days.


Little Girl Eating Ice Cream

If I had to choose one ice cream flavor for the rest of my life, it would be black raspberry. Yes there's the color, almost obscene in its intensity. But the real appeal lies in the flavor of the black raspberries -- when married with cream, sugar and egg yolks, they yield an ice cream that's lush and fruity, and at the same time faintly floral; for me, it's a nostalgic flavor that reminds me of childhood summers in Maine, where I've consumed too many black raspberry (sometimes with chocolate chips) cones to count over the years.

More: For a true taste of Maine, try these New England lobster rolls.

Black raspberry happens to be my husband's favorite ice cream flavor too. Perhaps it's even the reason we're together?

Yet, for some reason I had never made it at home until this summer. When I considered this gaping void in my cooking repertoire, it seemed ludicrous. How could we ever expect Clara to jump on the black raspberry family bandwagon if she hadn't even tried it?

Little Girl Eating Strawberry Ice Cream

So I picked up some of the dusky, purple berries at the greenmarket (they are gorgeous right now) and set to work.

I was looking for an ice cream base that was rich and creamy without gilding the lily; it would be a crime to muffle the flavor of the raspberries. So I opted for a custard that uses a mix of milk and cream, plus three large egg yolks. A little sugar and some vanilla, and the rest was up to the berries.

I wondered whether I'd end up with the brilliant fuchsia hue characteristic of the more commercial varieties I grew up with, but I needn't have worried. The berries are like a concentrated dye, staining everything they come in contact with -- including your clothes. The freshly churned ice cream was undeniably purple, and the color only intensified once it had fully firmed up in the freezer. The flavor was just as I remembered it, if not a bit better.

Clara was unsure about the new flavor, but she managed a few bites before requesting some of her current favorite, strawberry (pictured above). I'm sure she'll come around.

Black Raspberry Ice Cream

Black Raspberry Ice Cream

Makes one pint

1 1/4 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
Kosher salt
3 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups black raspberries
Photos by Mark Weinberg and James Ransom
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