June 24, 2014 Leave your thoughts
People, it’s summer! Rejoice!
And what says “summer” more than fruit-infused ice cream?!
In the late days of spring and early days of summer, strawberries and rhubarb make their first appearances in Connecticut. I’ve been waiting all year for fresh, local fruit (even though rhubarb is technically a vegetable, I think…), and here we are! I got my strawberries from the local farmers’ market and rhubarb from a farm stand up the road from my house. You can’t get better than that.
My favorite part about this ice cream is the wonderful combination of sweet and tart. On its own, rhubarb is EXTREMELY bitter, but with a little help from some sugar and strawberries, it tuns into a much mellower, tastier sidekick to the creamy vegan ice cream base.
At my house, we love having a little crunch in our ice cream, so I added some chocolate chips for flavor, color, and texture. You can leave them out if you like, or replace them with your favorite kind of nut (I’d recommend almonds or hazelnuts here). But really, who leaves out the chocolate?!
Let’s taste how fruity this summer can be. Yum.
First, soak 1 1/2 cups of raw cashews in a water bath overnight. You can also do this a few days in advance and keep the cashews in a glass jar in the fridge. Make sure you freeze the bowl of your ice cream maker, too!
Before you get started on making your ice cream base, you’ll need to make the strawberry rhubarb sauce. It’s super simple and tastes amazing–I dare you not to keep dipping a spoon back in for more.
To begin, chop up a pound of rhubarb–for me, that was about 6 big stalks. I recommend trimming off the bottoms, slicing the stalks in half lengthwise, then cutting into 1/2-inch cubes in the other direction.
In a small saucepan, combine 1/3 cup of water with 1/3 cup of organic cane sugar or coconut sugar and stir over medium heat until dissolved. Add the rhubarb, then bring the mixture to a boil. As soon as it bubbles vigorously, turn the heat down to medium-low and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Watch as the rhubarb magically disintegrates!
To the rhubarb, add in 1 pint of fresh (or frozen + thawed), roughly chopped strawberries. Cook for another 10 minutes, then take a little sauce out and stir in 1 tablespoon of arrowroot powder into it. Add it back to the sauce, whisk to combine, then taste and adjust for sweetness and thickness. It should hold together pretty well on its own but not be a goopy paste.
Pour the sauce into an airtight container and put in the fridge for at least four hours or until cool to the touch. That’s one trick about ice cream: you DO NOT want any of the ingredients to be warm!
Meanwhile, make the ice cream base: combine the soaked cashews with 1 14 ounce can of full-fat coconut milk (about 1 1/2 cups), 1/3 cup of melted coconut oil, 1/3 cup of honey (or coconut nectar to make it vegan), 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 cup of rosé in the bowl of a blender. That’s right, rosé.
When it comes to homemade ice cream, another trick I’ve found to make a rich, creamy base that doesn’t get icy is to add some alcohol. Yes, I am sixteen, and yes, I know that I am below the legal drinking age. No, I don’t care. It’s not like I’m chugging the stuff at a bawdy party. I’m using it to lower the ice cream’s freezing point and make it easier to scoop here!
Anyway, blend everything on high until smooth and creamy, then press the ice cream base through a sieve into an airtight container. Let cool in the fridge for at least four hours or until cool to the touch.
Once both the ice cream base and the sauce are cool to the touch, put the sauce in the bowl of the ice cream machine and churn according to your manufacturer’s instructions–THE LONGER THE BETTER. When you think you have about five minutes remaining, add 1/2 of the strawberry rhubarb sauce and 1/2 cup of chocolate chips or nuts, if you’re using them.
Scoop the ice cream into a loaf pan or airtight container and smooth the top with a spatula. Pour the remaining sauce on top of the ice cream and use a fork or wooden skewer to swirl it around a bit to make a pretty pattern.
Freeze until solid–I find it’s best after 4-6 hours–and let sit out for five to ten minutes before scooping.
Aestival win! (Aestival means of or occurring in summer–can you tell I’m studying SAT vocab?)
What is your favorite early-summer fruit (or vegetable)? Leave me a comment here or on Facebook and let me know!