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, which is almost obscene in its intensity. But the flavor of black raspberries, when combined with cream, sugar and egg yolks, transforms into something rich and lush, and at the same time floral; for me, it's a nostalgic flavor, both childlike and sophisticated at the same time. It 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.
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?
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. —Merrill Stubbs
Heat the cream, milk, sugar and a pinch of salt in a heavy pot until it's just beginning to bubble around the edges (do not let it boil).
In the meantime, whisk together the egg yolks in a heatproof bowl. Temper the yolks by slowly whisking in about a third of the hot cream, and then whisk this mixture back into the pot with the rest of the cream.
Cook the custard over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until it coats the back of a wooden spoon, about 5 minutes. Make sure not to let it boil. Strain the custard through a fine mesh sieve and stir in the vanilla.
Puree the raspberries in a blender and strain through a sieve to remove the seeds. Stir the puree into the custard, cover and refrigerate until completely chilled, preferably overnight.
Freeze the mixture in an ice cream maker, transfer to a container and put in the freezer to harden completely. Soften for a few minutes at room temperature before serving.