Strawberries and balsamic vinegar are a match made in heaven! Strange as it may sound, this strawberry balsamic ice cream has the perfect balance of sweet, tangy, creamy and fruity.
Using balsamic vinegar in a dessert may seem odd to some folks, but pairing balsamic with fruit actually brings out their natural sweetness and amps up that fruit flavor. When you reduce balsamic vinegar, the bite of the vinegar actually dissipates and you’re mostly left with sweetness. You’ll still get some tang, but it won’t taste like vinegar.
I actually initially tried the strawberry and balsamic ice cream combination from Bi-Rite Market in San Francisco, CA. Since strawberries also have that great balance between sweetness and acidity, they’re great with balsamic vinegar! If you’re down to be a little bit adventurous, I highly recommend trying this ice cream flavor!
A Bit of Warning
Since this is a custard-based ice cream, the process is a bit longer than just dumping ingredients in an ice cream machine. However, I promise that it’s worth it! In any case, making a custard is actually not as hard as I initially thought. Once I got more into ice cream-making, it’s gotten easier and less intimidating to make.
Tools you’ll need
Strawberry custard base
- 1.5 cups strawberries
- 1 cup cold whole milk
- 1 cup sugar (divided in half)
- 2 cups cold heavy cream
- 2 whole eggs
- 4 oz softened cream cheese
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- a pinch of salt
Strawberry balsamic sauce
- 1 cup strawberries
- juice of 1 small lemon
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- a pinch of salt
- We'll start with the custard base ingredients. Macerate the strawberries by cutting them up and placing them in a bowl with half of the sugar (1/2 cup). Let them sit there for 30 minutes until their juices come out.
- While the strawberries are macerating, heat the milk and the heavy cream in a small pot on the stove. Also, preheat your oven at 350 degrees.
- While your milk is warming up, whisk the eggs with the other half of the sugar and a pinch of salt in a mixing bowl.
- Temper the eggs by slowly pouring the hot milk. Be careful with this part! I'm always paranoid that I might accidentally make scrambled eggs. So, you have to keep whisking the eggs while you slowly pour the hot milk. I would also highly recommend adding the hot milk in batches (maybe about 1/4 cup at a time).
- Put the egg-milk mixture back into the pot and keep whisking it. Let it simmer until it coats the back of a spoon. Congratulations! You just made custard! Chill the custard in the fridge while you work on the strawberries again.
- Roast your macerated strawberries on a lined baking sheet in the oven for 20 minutes.
- Using a hand mixer, combine the roasted strawberries with the softened cream cheese and vanilla extract. It's okay if it's not completely smooth; I like little chunks of strawberries.
- Then, combine your cream cheese-strawberry mixture with your slightly cooled custard base until mixed thoroughly. If the whole thing is still a little warm, put it in the freezer for 15-20 minutes.
- While the strawberry custard is chilling, you can work on the strawberry balsamic sauce. This will serve as the "swirl" that you put in the ice cream. Cut the strawberries into smaller pieces and put them into a small pot on the stove with all the sauce ingredients (lemon juice, sugar, balsamic vinegar, and pinch of salt). Cook down until the the sauce is reduced; it shouldn't get too thick.
- Take your chilled custard and churn for about 20-25 minutes (or until soft serve consistency) in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions.
- Now comes the fun part: swirling! Once your ice cream finishes churning, put one-third of it into a freezer-safe container. Then, drizzle one tbsp of the strawberry balsamic sauce on top of the ice cream and use a knife (or something similar) to swirl it around to your heart's content. Continue the process until all of the ice cream is in the container. At this point, you should still have about half of the strawberry balsamic sauce leftover. Save that as topping when your ice cream is ready to serve.
- Freeze for at least 6 hours.<
- Let it sit on the counter for at least 10 minutes prior to serving. Alternatively, you can microwave it for 15 seconds. Enjoy!