August 30, 2018

Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

I know, I know. I just posted a recipe for strawberry cheesecake. But it's 90 degrees outside, I need something to cool off, and I want to use all the end-of-season, ripe, juicy strawberries while I still have them. Labor Day weekend is also approaching, and I'm always looking for patriotic desserts that everyone will love, plus it's pretty cool and refreshing to follow a big outdoor barbecue. Strawberry ice cream is already pretty popular, but making the base cheesecake-flavored and folding in a crunchy graham cracker crumble really takes it over the top.

The ice cream base consists of cream, milk, vanilla, sugar, a pinch of salt, and, of course, cream cheese. I whisk the sugar into the cream cheese first since you're not going to have a smooth base if you try and stir in a whole block of cream cheese. The sugar softens up the cream cheese (which should already be at room temperature), making it much easier to gradually whisk in the other ingredients. That should set aside to chill for a while since you'll get much better results if you try and freeze a cold liquid than a warm one.

In the meantime, you can toss some graham cracker crumbs with butter and sugar then toast and crumble them. I'd make some extra because I was eating it with a spoon even before it was mixed into the ice cream, and it's extra tasty when you sprinkle more on top of the ice cream. The last component is the strawberry compote: I combine fresh strawberries (or frozen, since they'll be pureed anyway) with cornstarch and sugar to taste. That gets pureed until smooth since the strawberry chunks become icy and hard when frozen. The last step is cooking the puree for a few minutes to thicken so you don't have watery ribbons frozen in your ice cream; you should end up with a thick, jammy spread that you can swirl in.

As long as you have an ice cream maker, this recipe is incredibly easy but incredibly impressive. Yes, there are ways to make ice cream without one, like whipping cream and combining it with sweetened condensed milk, but you can get ice cream makers as cheap as around $30, which is worth it in my opinion if you have any interest in playing around with ice cream recipes. Coming from a lab where people literally get PhDs in ice cream, I know how important air cells, freezing time, and other factors are when it comes to getting a rich, creamy ice cream. Essentially, you want to aerate the ice cream base and freeze it quickly for a softer texture with minimal grainy ice crystals. The faster and colder you churn, the better the ice cream is, which is why you see so many places freezing theirs with liquid nitrogen. The freezing process depends on your ice cream maker, so be sure to follow directions. I swirl in the strawberry puree and graham cracker crumbs as I scoop it into a tin to freeze further so the ice cream doesn't all turn pink, but that's a personal preference. You can also switch it up with other cookies like oreos or vanilla wafers and, of course, other fruit purees. Cheesecake will always be in style, so don't be afraid to switch it up with some ice cream!

2/3 Cup Graham Cracker Crumbs
1 Cup + 6 T Sugar
3 T Butter, Melted
1 1/2 Cups (8oz) Chopped Strawberries
2 tsp Cornstarch
8 oz Cream Cheese, Softened
1 1/2 Cups Cream
1 Cup Whole Milk
1 tsp Vanilla
Pinch Salt

Heat oven to 375F.

Combine the graham cracker crumbs, 3 T sugar, and butter. Spread onto a baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes or until golden and fragrant.

Blend the strawberries with 3 T sugar and cornstarch in a food processor or with an immersion blender until smooth. Transfer to a small pot and simmer on medium-low heat until thickened, about 5-10 minutes. Refrigerate until cooled.

Whisk the cream cheese and remaining 1 cup sugar together until smooth. Whisk in the cream, milk, vanilla, and salt. Pour into a prepared ice cream churner and churn according to instructions.

While the ice cream is still soft, swirl in the graham cracker crumble and the strawberry sauce. Freeze until firm.

Serves 6
Recipe Adapted from Like Mother Like Daughter

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