Thanks to the FOOD52 Hotline, I discovered last summer the sublime combination of blueberries with nutmeg. Blueberries – especially just-picked non-commercial varieties – have an intense, dominating flavor. So, to get the full effect of the nutmeg, I generously flavor the ice cream base with it. (Have you ever had nutmeg and vanilla ice cream? If you like nutmeg, you will love this flavored base.) This uses Jeni Britton Bauer’s aptly-named Splendid basic recipe, modified to infuse the milk with vanilla and nutmeg, and into which a nutmeg and cinnamon scented blueberry sauce is swirled. Enjoy!! ;o) —AntoniaJames
- Makes about a quart
One 4” vanilla bean
2/3 cup white sugar
2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon corn starch
2 ½ teaspoons, packed, of freshly grated nutmeg (1 teaspoon for the base and the rest for the swirled berries)
1 heaping cup of fresh blueberries
One 2” cinnamon stick
One 2” strip of lemon zest
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 ¼ cups heavy cream
1 ½ ounce cream cheese, at room temperature
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
- Flavor the sugar for the ice cream base: Measure into a small bowl the 2/3 cup of white sugar. Lightly score the vanilla bean with the tip of a sharp small knife and scrape out the tiny seeds, into the sugar. Rub the seeds into the sugar, taking care not to leave any on your fingers.
- In a small bowl, make a slurry by combining 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch. Stir it well.
- Put the scraped vanilla bean in a medium heavy saucepan with the remaining milk. Add 1 teaspoon of nutmeg and, over medium heat, bring the milk just to scalding. Turn off the heat and let the milk, nutmeg and vanilla sit for at least ½ hour.
- Put a small metal bowl in the freezer to chill. In another heavy saucepan, cook the blueberries with the remaining 1 ½ teaspoons of nutmeg, and the lemon zest, cinnamon stick and brown sugar over medium heat. When the berries start to sizzle – some will seem about to explode – use a potato masher to smash them all down into the bottom of the pan. This will release the juices quickly. Continue to cook the berries, mashing until they are all (or nearly all) crushed. They’ll give off a lot of juice! Turn the heat down to medium low and simmer, stirring frequently and taking care not to let the sauce scorch, for 10 – 15 minutes. At that point, you should have a fragrant sauce that looks a bit like a loose jam.
- Turn off the heat, remove the cinnamon stick and strip of lemon zest immediately, and put the berry sauce into the chilled bowl. Give it a stir and put it in a cool place. When it’s close to room temperature, put it into the fridge until ready to use.
- Proceed with Jeni’s basic recipe (which I’ve transcribed below), using the infused milk, and leaving the vanilla bean in as you boil the milk, cream, sugar and corn syrup. Follow the next steps, adding the slurry and then mixing the milk and cream in with the cream cheese (but please see my note below), and chilling in a zippered plastic bag. I leave the vanilla bean in while the flavored milk and cream are chilling.
- Churn in your machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Before putting the ice cream into your freezer to harden, smear about 1/3 of the blueberry sauce on the bottom of your storage container; add half of the ice cream, followed by another third of the blueberry sauce and then, repeat, swirling the top just a bit to combine.
- Allow to harden in the freezer, but take it out about 20 – 30 minute before eating, for easier scooping (and a more pleasing texture). I like to use a shallow but broad box for freezing ice cream because the larger space you have over which to pull your scoop, the easier it is to form a beautiful, tight round ball of ice cream. (I worked in an ice cream parlor as a teenager. In addition to a huge callus on my pulling hand and a lot of experience decorating ice cream cakes when the shop wasn't busy with customers, I picked up a few useful tricks.) Also, make sure to dip your scoop into cold water between rolls and while shaping and packing the ice cream into the scoop itself. And of course, always serve it with a smile! ;o)
- Enjoy!! ;o)
- Jeni’s (Truly Splendid) Ice Cream Base (except for the bracketed text, this is quoted verbatim from Jeni's generous post to FOOD52): “24 hours before you want to make the ice cream, wash the canister, dry it well, and place it in the coldest part of the freezer. Do not remove it until you are ready to pour the chilled cream into it. PREP THREE BOWLS: In a small bowl, mix about 2 tablespoons of milk with the cornstarch to make a slurry. In a medium bowl, add the salt and room-temperature cream cheese and whip all the bumps out. In a large bowl, make an ice bath (heavy on the ice) and set aside. COOK: Pour the milk, cream, sugar, and corn syrup into a saucepan. Bring to a boil and set a timer for precisely 4 minutes—the timing is critical. Turn off the heat and add the cornstarch slurry to the ice cream base in the pan. CHILL: Incorporate the hot cream mixture into the cream cheese. Do this a little bit at a time so that you can whip out any lumps of cream cheese. [AJ’s comment: Please see my note below. If you don't have an immersion blender, put the cream cheese in a bowl with a broad, flat bottom; use a dinner fork to start, and add only a couple of tablespoons of the cream mixture, and pressing down with the tines hard as you pull it across the bottom of the bowl. This gets the lumps out really nicely, as you create a smooth sauce with the fork.] Pour the hot ice cream base into a Ziploc bag and seal. Submerge in the ice bath until very cold. [AJ’s note: Or, you can put it into a regular storage container and put it in the back of your refrigerator for the afternoon or overnight, as I do when I have the time.] FREEZE: Cut the corner off the bag, pour the chilled base into the ice cream machine, and turn on the machine. When finished, transfer to a storage container and freeze until firm, about 4 hours. HOW TO TELL WHEN YOUR ICE CREAM IS DONE: The ice cream is finished at the exact moment when the machine isn’t freezing the ice cream anymore; the ice cream will begin to pull away from the sides (about 25 minutes). If you stop too soon, there will be a thin layer of really dense ice cream on the sides of the canister.”
- N.B. I use freshly picked blueberries from my own bushes for this. I've found that the fresh blueberries available commercially -- even in the farmers' markets -- are not nearly as flavorful as our blueberries. If you don't have intensely flavored fresh blueberries, consider using frozen wild blueberries instead. I bought some once, just to compare, and based on that, I think they'd work well. Use about 8 ounces of the frozen ones for this recipe, and add a teaspoon or two of lemon juice if their flavor isn't just a bit tart. ;o)
- After using Jeni's recipe for several different batches, I've concluded that the easiest way to incorporate the cream cheese into the milk and cream without any lumps is not to bother putting the cream cheese into a bowl. I drop it into the bottom of the plastic vessel that came with my immersion blender, along with the salt. Then I pour about 1/2 cup of the hot milk and cream on top of that, let it sit for a few seconds, and blend for about 10 or 12 pulses. Swirl it around to confirm that it's nice and smooth; buzz it for a few more seconds, if it's not. Then pour it back into the saucepan in which you boiled the milk, and give it a good stir. ;o)