Roasted Strawberry-Miso Ice Cream
I was always on the frence about fruit-based ice cream made with eggs. Yes, you got that right. I wrote “Frence,” which is my subconscious speaking (or writing), most likely because I’ve got both France – and fresh strawberries – on the brain these days.
After rhubarb, strawberries are the first sign of spring at our markets. And while there are plenty of different types out there, I wait for the glorious day that the apple vendors from Picardie arrive at my market with barquettes of fragrant red berries that are so ripe they’re red all the way through when you slice them in half. Another bonus is that when you buy two baskets, they give ya’ a deal on the second. So, of course, I pick up two.
Some fruits lend themselves to bring cooked, such as apricots and peaches, but I’m on the fence (not “frence”this time) about strawberries. Their texture and bright flavor are big parts of their appeal and I tend to leave them out of baked goods, preferring them fresh.
However, I was reading an article in The Wall Street Journal that talked about pairing miso with desserts and my curiosity was piqued. Included was a simple vanilla ice cream with miso, which got my attention because I liked the idea of what they said would add “a rich butterscotch flavor” to ice cream. And I had hunch that the savory idea of roasted fruit or berries might be a nice pairing with salty, fermented white miso. So I made up a custard, stirring in some white miso, roasted some strawberries, then churned everything up.
One issue I’m asked about frequently from people who make ice cream, is that they’re vexed when they add chunks of fruit to ice cream, which become frozen solid after spending some time in the freezer after churning. (Short answer: fruit is around 90% water, and we all know what happens to water when you put it in the freezer.) So the best solution is either to add macerated fruit at the end of churning and eat the ice cream quickly, or serve the fruit as a sauce, which is my usual modus operandi.
So roasting the berries in sweetener is a way to get the sugar into the berries (sugar inhibits freezing) – so there you have it. Another bonus is that when I pulled the roasted strawberries out of the oven, their flavor concentrated with a few spoonfuls of golden syrup and a touch of balsamic vinegar. I was thrilled with the flavor, and did everything I could to keep my spoon away from them.
Even though I got the strawberries right, finding the right miso was a challenge. I had hoofed it over to Belleville, to one of the massive Asian supermarkets, and was completely flummoxed when I couldn’t find the saikyo miso recommended for the ice cream. So there I was, hunched over my iPhone, Googling the various types of white miso while I dodged weekend shoppers, running their shopping cart wheels over the feet of the poor guy trying to figure out what it says on all those Japanese miso pouches.
I picked the lightest one I could find, shinshu shiro miso. (If you don’t know your miso either, I posted some links about miso varieties below that you can read before you’re standing in the busy aisle of the supermarket.) I later discovered, with my (marginally) better Internet connection at home, that the miso I used was more fermented than others. But if you can get the saikyo miso recommended in the original article, it’s probably best to use that. If you’re not convinced you’ll like miso in your ice cream, you can make this one without it, just using the roasted strawberries. (Unless you eat them all first!)
Roasted Strawberry-Miso Ice Cream
Note that roasting the strawberries will darken them, as well as concentrate the flavors. So the color of the ice cream will be a little more muted than if using fresh strawberries. (There is a fresh strawberry ice cream recipe, that isn’t custard-based, in The Perfect Scoop.)
If you don’t wish to use the miso, simply omit it from the recipe, and balance the mixture with a few drops of fresh lemon juice or kirsch, before churning.
For the roasted strawberries:
1 pound (450g) strawberries
3 tablespoons golden syrup, maple syrup, or light-flavored honey
1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
a few turns of black pepper
For the ice cream custard:
- 1 cup (250ml) whole milk
- 1/2 cup (100g) sugar
- 5 large egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons white miso (such as saikyo, shiro, or shinshu)
- 1 3/4 cups (430ml) heavy cream
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC).
2. Hull the strawberries and cut them in quarters. In a wide shallow baking dish with high sides (one that will fit all the berries in a single layer, with space between them), toss the berries with the golden syrup, balsamic vinegar, and black pepper.
3. Spread the berries across the bottom of the baking dish and roast on an upper rack of the oven, stirring once or twice during roasting, until they are well-cooked and the juices have thickened substantially, about 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and scrape into a bowl. Once cool, take a pair of scissors and snip the cooked berries into smaller pieces, directly in the bowl.
(The berries can be prepared up to three days ahead, and refrigerated.)
4. To make the ice cream custard, heat the milk and sugar in a saucepan.
5. While the milk is warming, make an ice bath by placing a 2-quart (2l) bowl in a larger bowl partially filled with ice and water. Set a strainer over the top of the smaller bowl and pour the cream into the bowl.
6. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and miso. Gradually pour some of the warm milk into the yolks, whisking constantly as you pour. Scrape the warmed yolks with miso and milk back into the saucepan.
7. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heat-resistant spatula, until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula. Strain the custard into the heavy cream. Stir over the ice until cool. Add the vanilla extract and refrigerate to chill thoroughly, preferably overnight.
8. To finish the ice cream, mix the roasted strawberries with the miso ice cream custard, then churn in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Related Links and Recipes
Know your miso (Bon Appétit)
What’s the difference? White, Yellow and Red Miso (The Kitchn)