The key ingredient in this ice cream–the cheat ingredient, if you will–is blackberry preserves. They contribute the fruity flavor, as well as a swirl of purple throughout the ice cream. They are also an easy way to add the essence of blackberry if summer’s bounty is coming up short. To be honest, I rarely reach for a handful of fresh blackberries as a treat. Their tang hits me at the back of my mouth, just below my earlobe, which is where I often register foods that are too sour for my taste. Blackberry preserves are the perfect happy medium for someone like me. Combined with the light flavor of lime zest, two pair mingle in a combination that is borderline tropical without going too far left.
The fact that this ice cream involves a cooked custard means that it will require you to have a bit more patience with its preparation. The custard has to be cooked at the right temperature, so that it will thicken. Then, it has to cool to room temperature before sitting in the fridge for a few hours. If you want to have ice cream for an evening dessert, my suggestion is to wake up early to make, cool and chill the custard. By the time night falls, it will only take a few minutes to churn this post-dinner treat. By the way, this is one life-saving trick to the cooked custard ice cream. If you notice that your custard base curdles slightly, do not panic. Remove from heat, cool to room temp, then blast it in a blender at high speed. This will break up any tiny curdles and set you back on the right ice cream track. Enjoy!
- 4 cups half and half
- 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped, pod reserved
- Zest of 2 large limes
- 8 large egg yolks*
- ¾ cup sugar
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¾ cup seedless blackberry preserves
- Pour the half and half, vanilla bean seeds, vanilla bean pod and lime zest into a heavy bottomed sauce pan. Set the flame to medium, and bring the half and half to just under a simmer. Take off the heat, remove and discard the vanilla bean pod, then set aside.
- While the milk heats, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and salt until the mixture is thick, creamy and ribbony. Use a ladle to add about 1 cup of the warm dairy to the eggs, whisking until the mixture is well combined. Transfer back into the original pot.
- Set over medium heat again, and cook, stirring constantly, until the custard thickens. If using a thermometer, the mixture should be about 170 degrees. Or, dip a spoon into the custard, drawing your finger down the back of the spoon. If the line remains, the custard is ready. Remove from heat, pour into a bowl, and bring to room temperature. After about 45 minutes, cover with plastic wrap, making sure the saran touches the surface of the custard. Transfer to the refrigerator for at least 8 hours, or up to overnight.
- Pour the chilled custard into the frozen ice cream base, and churn according to package instructions. Slowly add the blackberry preserves towards the last two minutes of churning, or once the mixture is about ⅘ of the way complete. You can eat the ice cream immediately as "soft serve", or transfer to airtight containers and freeze for 2-4 hours, or until set.