I don’t want to get ahead of myself or anything, but I think I may be one blog post away from declaring 2012 the Summer of Ice Cream. I tried a new ‘scream recipe over the weekend, and it was off the charts: brown sugar balsamic ice cream! WHAT? Omg!
I introduced the brown sugar balsamic ice cream to the mixed berry cobbler and they totally fell in love. Or maybe I just fell in love with them. But either way I’m pretty sure all of us were very happy together.
OK, so this ice cream. The recipe is Brown Sugar-Balsamic Swirl Ice Cream from Bon Appetit. It’s a fairly standard vanilla base, but made with brown sugar instead of regular white sugar, so it has a wonderful deep maple flavor. The swirly bits you see, which look deceptively like chocolate, are actually balsamic vinegar reduction, which is made by simply boiling down regular balsamic vinegar (just the cheap stuff will do; it mellows out and gets a nice complex flavor once it’s reduced to a syrup). You mix the custard base in the ice cream machine, then add the syrup and whisk it in the machine for just a few seconds at the end, and it gets this lovely balsamic swirl. Holy cow it is delicious. Sweet and tangy, and interesting without punching you in the face and screaming hey I’m a crazy ice cream! I couldn’t resist adding a sprinkle of fleur de sel when serving, because everything tastes better with salt. (In fact, if I don’t declare 2012 the Summer of Ice Cream, it will have to be the Summer of Salty Desserts. See also: Chocolate Salty Cake.)
One helpful hint, the recipe tells you to boil the vinegar for about six minutes until it’s reduced to about two tablespoons, but it doesn’t tell you what heat to boil it at. I did mine on high and burnt the heck out of it, creating a solid block of carmelized vinegar. No bueno. The second batch I boiled a medium-low, which was much better. So, the point of this paragraph is: boil the vinegar at medium low. It probably takes about ten minutes or so. Also, don’t lean over the pan and inhale directly, or you could pass out from vinegar fumes.
And now let’s talk about the cobbler. Oh the cobbler. This is the Mixed Berry Cobbler from Bon Appetit; the recipe tells you you can make it with any berry mixture you want; and I do think it would work with just about any berries at all. I used raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and strawberries. It was wonderfully tart and the perfect accompaniment to the sweet, tangy ice cream.
One recipe note about the cobbler, the instructions have you knead the dough topping and roll it out on a board then cut it into squares, but mine was way to loose to be kneaded. I suppose I could have added more flour but instead I just mixed the dough/batter in the bowl and spooned it onto the fruit. It worked just fine–and hey, I’ll take spooning over kneading any day, so I was happy.
These two gorgeous creations, when combined, were really just pretty amazing. I served them together at a small dinner I cooked for friends on Saturday, and then again over brunch with another friend the next day. Everyone kind of lost their minds over the combo, myself included. It hits just the perfect note between classic and surprising–you think you’re getting an old-fashioned dessert, just your basic cobbler and ice cream–but little do you know, something unexpected awaits.
And here’s the other ‘scream I made recently (s0 good!): Peppery Butter Pecan Ice Cream