The flavor of this ice cream was inspired by a trip to the grocery store. I splurged on a small box of red currants, a tart and tangy relative of the grape. After popping one in my mouth, I knew I wanted to use the little red fruit as a swirl in ice cream, but I had to think of a complementary base. I thought that a subtle sweet fruit base would pair well with the tart flavors of the currants, and when I turned around the pears were staring me right in the face. How is that for sudden inspiration? My favorite kind. Enjoy!
Ice cream base inspired by recipes in Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home
Note: The pear flavor of the base is subtle, almost floral in nature. You may add more pear puree if you'd like but the base may become too icey. For a stronger pear flavor, consider substituting a pear sorbet base and spoon the red currant sauce on top. —scoopmuse
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Peel, core, and quarter pears. Spread pears evenly in an 8"x8" glass baking dish. Toss with 1/3 cup sugar. Bake pears for 45-60 minutes, until just softened (bake time will vary depending on ripeness of the pears). Stir pears every 5 minutes for the first 20 minutes of baking to prevent sugar from burning; stir occasionally for remaining bake time. Remove pears from oven and let cool slightly. Transfer pears and sugar syrup to blender. Add lemon juice and puree until smooth. Set pear puree aside (yield should be about 3/4 cup).
Fill a large bowl with ice water. In a small bowl, mix 2 Tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch. In a medium bowl, whisk the cream cheese and salt until smooth. Set a fine mesh sieve over the bowl and set aside.
In a medium saucepan, combine remaining milk, cream, remaining sugar, and corn syrup and bring to a low boil over medium heat. Boil until the mixture begins to thicken, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and off the heat, gradually whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Return to a boil and cook over moderately high heat until the mixture is slightly thickened (draw a line on a spoon), about 1 minute.
Gradually pour the hot milk mixture through the sieve into the cream cheese and whisk until smooth. Add pear puree and stir to combine. Set the bowl in the ice water bath, and let stand, stirring occasionally, until cold, about 20 minutes.
Once chilled, pour into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Spoon a layer of red currant swirl (directions below) on the bottom of a plastic ice cream container. Lightly spoon a layer of ice cream on top. Continue to alternate layers red currants and ice cream until the container is full, saving some swirl for top of ice cream. Do not stir. Freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.
Red Currant Swirl:
Combine red currants and sugar in small sauce pan over low heat. Warm mixture until currants begin to release their juice, stirring frequently. Continue cooking until currants begin to resemble a sauce but most of currants are still holding their shape (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat and cool completely. Chill until ready to use in ice cream.