Know this: When making ice cream, water is your greatest enemy.
It forms tiny icicles in your sweet treat, tarnishing its smooth texture with a harsh frost. Worst of all, it sneaks up on you in many ways. Water is in milk, fruits, mix-ins, even on your rinsed ice cream scooper.
The key to making perfect ice cream is to avoid it. That means roasting strawberries, boiling milk, and pressing wax paper directly on your finished product's surface.
This reasoning -- which can be credited to Jeni Britton Bauer of the wildly successful brand, Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream -- will make for one of the best ice creams you've ever had. What follows is a strawberry ice cream recipe based on this technique.
Pine Island strawberries from Upper East Side Farmers' Market
You should probably start with the best strawberries you can find. These Pine Island berries are available at the Upper East Side farmers' market on Saturdays.
Roasting them not only evaporates water, it also intensifies the fruit's flavor. Once puréed, you add them to your custard. The result is a pink-tinged ice cream, one that feels rich on the tongue and tastes of pure strawberry.
Ice cream, right out of the machine
Roasted Strawberry Ice Cream
Makes about 1 pint
1 pint strawberries, washed, hulled, and halved
3/4 cup raw sugar
3/4 cup whole milk
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Combine strawberries and 1/4 cup sugar in a baking dish. Bake for 15 minutes or until the strawberries are dark red and have released their juices. Allow to cool.
In a blender or food processor, purée the strawberries. Measure the purée; you should have about 3/4 cup. Set aside.
Set a fine mesh strainer over a large heatproof bowl. Set aside.
Bring the milk, cream, and remaining 1/2 cup sugar to a boil in a medium sauce pan. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until slightly thickened. While whisking, slowly drizzle in about one cup of the hot liquid. Pour the egg yolk mixture back into the pan and cook over medium heat. Stir continuously until the custard thickens slightly, coats the back of a wooden spoon, and reaches about 170 degrees on a candy thermometer.
Pour the custard into the strainer. Press plastic wrap on the surface and chill for about four hours. (If you're impatient like me, you can pour the custard into a gallon-sized Ziploc and submerge into an ice bath for about 20 minutes.)
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Freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. Scoop the ice cream into a container and press wax paper onto the surface -- this will prevent icicles from forming. Freeze for about three hours, or until firm enough to scoop.
Follow Emily on Twitter @EmilyCodik.