It’s always quite difficult to adjust back to reality after an extended vacation. I just returned from a two week trip around the Mediterranean, and I am not ready for the real world yet. I do have an ice cream recipe to share, though! Many travel posts are forthcoming; I just have to whittle down the 3500 photos I shot, and… well… move. It might be a couple weeks before I post stories about the journey, but if you’d like to see some images in the meantime, I posted several on Instagram while I was away.
This ice cream recipe combines three of my favorite flavors: cardamon, vanilla and strawberry. It’s an incredibly harmonious trio. The cardamom adds a hint of exotic spiciness, but the strawberries and vanilla are comforting classics that make this an all around crowd pleaser during hot summer months.
I’ve left open the option to use either vanilla beans or vanilla bean paste, which is a secret ingredient in my spice cabinet. I buy vanilla beans in bulk to save money, but sometimes the last few beans dry out too much before I get a chance to use them. Vanilla bean paste is filled with beautiful specks of vanilla seeds, and adds a lovely flavor and slight caramel color to the ice cream. It’s what I used on the day the ice cream was photographed, so you’ll notice the slight tint. It’s technically not a perfect 1:1 swap between vanilla beans and paste (especially because the paste is slightly sweet), but it gets the job done!
If your new to preparing homemade ice cream, there’s a trick I use for testing when the base is ready. You can tell the ice cream base is getting close when it covers the spatula or wooden spoon. Run your finger across the custard. If the line is thick enough that it stays put without dripping or running, it’s ready!
- 12 ounces (approximately 3 cups) fresh strawberries, hulled
- optional: 2 teaspoons vodka
- 6 large egg yolks
- 5 ounces (approximately ¾ cup) granulated sugar
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3 white or green cardamom pods, smashed
- ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
- 2 vanilla beans (or 2 tablespoons vanilla bean paste)
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Slice the strawberries in half and spread into a single layer on the baking sheet. Roast for approximately 12-16 minutes, stirring/flipping the berries every 4 minutes to prevent sticking, until they are soft and the juices are running. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes.
- Puree the strawberries in a blender, leaving a bit of texture if some is desired in the ice cream. (Note: The puree can either be stirred directly into the ice cream base in Step 7, or swirled in once the ice cream has been churned. Swirling the puree can cause it to have an icy texture, so I recommend adding 2 teaspoons vodka to the blender while pureeing if you want strawberry swirls).
- Place the egg yolks and granulated sugar into a large bowl and whisk vigorously to combine.
- Add the whole milk, heavy cream, vanilla extract, cardamom pods, and ground cardamom to a medium-sized saucepan.
- Slice the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and use the flat side of a paring knife to scrape the seeds out of the pods. Add both the seeds and the pods to the saucepan, whisking to combine. (Note: if using vanilla bean paste, simply whisk the paste directly into the cream mixture).
- Warm up the cream mixture over medium heat. When the liquid begins to steam and just barely simmer, turn the heat down to low and then ladle some of the hot mixture into the egg yolks while whisking. This will temper the yolks and prevent them from scrambling. Pour the remaining liquid into the yolks, whisk, and then return the mixture back to the saucepan, using a spatula to scrape everything from the mixing bowl.
- Using a heatproof spatula or wooden spoon, stir the mixture constantly over low heat until it has thickened slightly, 3-5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for several minutes, stirring periodically. Stir in the strawberry puree here for a “no swirl” version of the ice cream. Strain the mixture over a fine mesh strainer into a clean bowl or quart-sized liquid measuring cup, discarding the cardamom and vanilla pods. Press plastic wrap directly against the surface of the liquid and place in the refrigerator to chill until very cold, preferably overnight.
- Prepare in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. For strawberry swirls, drizzle in the puree right at the end of the churning process, then continue chilling in the freezer for a firmer consistency.