Let me start by saying, you need this icecream in your life. Need. It is everything delicious and lovely and spring, and is a little evil. But sometimes, that’s ok. This is one of those times.
The beautiful rhubarb in my garden was the inspiration for this endeavor. It really is one of my favorite perennials. Although I also have strawberries in the garden, we never seem to have enough to make something out of. Actually, we never have enough for them to even make it inside the house, despite having six very healthy, productive plants. How do you say ‘no’ to a ripe, sun-warmed berry? They’re consumed just as soon as they’re picked. So, to insure that next spring we would produce enough organic strawberries to make it in the house, we planted over 60 baby strawberries in the front yard as attractive edible groundcover in the flower beds. The manual labor eliminated any guilt from this indulgence.
I used to think that making icecream from scratch was excessive; that it was one of those things that is ok to just buy…but then the Handy Man surprised me with an icecream attachment for my Kitchenaid and I learned that I had been so misguided. Homemade icecream is just divine and superior in every way to that stuff at the grocery store labeled “icecream.” This is one of the few items that really isn’t cheaper to make than buy, but the price is comparable, and the quality superior. I like that it also gives you the ability to control the ingredients by using organic dairy, seasonal, local, organic fruit and less sugar.
On that note, this icecream has much less sugar than typical icecream recipes. If you like it sweeter, by all means add more honey, but we really like it this way! It allows all of the flavors to come out, particularly the tartness of the rhubarb, as well as the subtleties of the red wine. These are some pretty adult-flavors, but they also pleased the pallet of our youngest dinner guest at three years old.
And speaking of adult flavors – let’s talk about wine! Wine selection is important because the reduction imparts a surprising amount of flavor, so be sure to pick something you like! I selected a blend that is a little bit fruity, but not sweet, with a Pino Noir-like finish. Merlot would work nicely as well. But the type of wine is much less important than simply selecting something you like. Just try not to eat it all at this state, when it starts to smell really delicious…
I wait to churn the icecream until just before it’s time to serve dessert. Mostly because I love to serve it straight out of the icecream machine, while it has that thick, creamy, soft-serve consistency. It’s also a fun party-trick and only takes 10 minutes. Our very wonderful friends baked a strawberry rhubarb pie to pair with the icecream… it was heaven. HEAVEN, I tell you.
2 cups heavy cream
1 ¼ cup half-and-half
½ cup sugar
½ cup raw, local honey
2 cups chopped fresh rhubarb (4-5 stalks)
3 cups chopped fresh strawberries (1 pound)
¾ cup red wine (reserve the rest of the bottle for drinking)
1 heaping tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
- To make the custard base, combine ½ cup sugar and egg yolks in a large bowl. Whisk until pale yellow and set aside. Combine heavy cream and half-and-half in a saucepan over medium heat. Heat until scalding (180°F), or until tiny bubbles start to form around the edge. Do not boil. Slowly add ½ cup of the hot dairy mixture to the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly, to temper the eggs. Gradually add the rest of the dairy mixture, stirring continuously. Pour dairy and yolk mixture back into saucepan and cook over medium-low heat until mixture reaches 160°F, stirring constantly. Pour mixture back into the large bowl, and place bowl in an ice-filled bowl until custard cools completely, stirring occasionally (about 20-30 minutes).
- While that cools, combine ½ cup honey, rhubarb and wine in a saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a soft boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and let wine reduce for 10 minutes, or until rhubarb is tender and the liquid has a more syrup-like consistency. Remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes.
- In food processor, combine strawberries, wine-rhubarb reduction, cinnamon and vanilla; process until smooth. Fold rhubarb mixture into custard base and refrigerate until cold (at least 2 hours, or overnight).
- Freeze icecream according to your icecream-maker’s directions. Eat immediately for soft-serve consistency, or freeze for 2 hours, if firm consistency is desired.