Our toddler son Emmett loves any kind of fruit he can get his hands on. So when we discovered a blackberry thicket growing on the side of a retaining wall mere blocks from our house, he was in heaven. Multiple times a week during the summer he would lead us on a walk to pick blackberries for his morning walk and mid-morning snack. As the summer reached its peak there was such an abundance we would all collect an extra handful or two to wash and freeze for later. By the end of the season we had multiple pints of fresh frozen berries in our freezer and I was inspired on a hot August weekend to put them to good use.
- 2 pints fresh blackberries
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 1/2 cups half-and-half
- 5 egg yolks
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 4 ounces semisweet chocolate (chopped)
- Combine the blackberries, 1/4 cup of the sugar and the lemon juice in a saucepan. Cook over high heat until the blackberries are broken down and syrupy, about 20 minutes. (If you’ve ever made any kind of fruit jam, it’s the exact same process.)
- Pour the mixture into a bowl through a fine mesh strainer. Using a whisk or spoon, force out as much of the deep purple liquid as you can, and then set it aside to cool. (Compost the blackberry pulp and seeds.)
- Wash the strainer – you’ll need it again later
- Heat the half-and-half and remaining 1 cup sugar in a saucepan over medium heat.
- Meanwhile, using a whisk, beat the egg yolks until pale and thick.
- Temper the eggs by splashing a small amount of the warm cream into the yolks, whisking constantly. (This is an important step, make sure the cream is warm but not boiling. They key to tempering is to get the egg yolks warm enough so they mix with the warm cream to make a base the custard rather scrambled egg yolk suspended in cream)
- Pour the tempered yolks into the saucepan, stirring gently. Cook over medium-low heat until thick, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes. Don’t let the custard boil, small simmering bubbles on the sides will happen as you get close. (your custard base is ready when you can coat the back of a wooden spoon, run your finger through the liquid and it doesn’t fill behind)
- Remove the custard from heat and strain it into a second glass bowl to let it cool for 5-10 min (for best results cool in an ice bath to halt the cooking process as fast possible.
- While the custard is cooling, fold the heavy cream into the bowl with the cooled berry jam base
- Finally, fold in the cooled custard base
- Cover and refrigerate this mixture until cool. (4-24 hours)
- Freeze the mixture according to your ice cream maker’s instructions. My cuisinart was about 15 minutes of churning. (Add the chopped chunks of semi-sweet chocolate at this point if you want to go that route. I love it both ways so I usually sprinkle them on top of an individual serving)
- Transfer the ice cream to a freezer-safe container and allow it to harden overnight.