Have you seen all the roasted strawberry ice cream recipes floating around the internet lately?
Okay, I had to try one. I chose David Liebovitz’, which also includes miso. But, I skipped the miso since I didn’t have any. And, I used my neighbor Heather’s ice cream machine, which she lent to me while she was out of town.
This ice cream! My, was it delicious.
If you haven’t made it already, you should. It is incredible: A creamy vanilla base streaked through with sweet-tart, deeply-flavored strawberries.
Roasting the fruit removes much of the water and cooking it with the syrup helps prevent the fruit from freezing into icy bits. Instead, while in the oven, the strawberries develop a complexity worthy of partnership with the cream-and-custard base.
After Heather returned, I gave the machine back (and have been contemplating buying one ever since). Yes, fresh ice cream is incomparable.
I know there are many ice cream recipes out there which don't require a machine, including some by Nigella Lawson. I just haven't tried them yet. But I will. Soon.
Today, though, I was craving flavors similar to that strawberry ice cream. The David Liebovitz one.
I made this instead.
Pot de crème is basically an egg custard. It is a simple and often considered by some as a homely sort here in America, where the general preference runs toward more showy, decadent desserts whose names suggest the idea of sin.
Sometimes though, all I want is a little sweetness and nothing over the top. As I made my pot de creme today, I remembered eating an ethereal, just sweetened steamed custard before bedtime as a child.
I encourage you to embrace the humble custard. Classic ice cream begins with a custard, so why not choose this?
I made the same roasted strawberries from the David Liebovitz recipe and put them in the bottom of a glass topped with a vanilla custard. Then, I put the whole thing into a water bath in the oven. After my custards cooled a bit, I spooned just a tad more of the strawberries and syrup over each one.
Not ice cream. Not David Liebovitz’ most delicious ice cream ever, but a good second choice. Which I'd say is not a bad thing at all.
Here’s to being Number Two!
P.S. If you want to be a real American about it, a good dollop of sweetened whipped cream on top would also be divine.
Pot de Crème with Roasted Strawberries
Makes 6 small custards (in 4-6 ounce ramekins). Or, make fewer but larger ones, if you wish!
For the Roasted Strawberries
1 dry pint strawberries, hulled
1 ½ Tablespoons golden syrup or honey
¼ teaspoon balsamic vinegar
A couple of turns of fresh black pepper
For the Custard
2 1/3 cups half-and-half
1 vanilla bean, split in half
5 large egg yolks
¼ cup evaporated cane sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Cut berries into quarters. Place in a wide, shallow dish. Drizzle golden syrup and balsamic vinegar over the berries. Sprinkle pepper on top. Place on top rack of oven. Stir once or twice during the cooking process. Allow to cook for 30-40 minutes, until berries are softened, have darkened a bit and syrup has become thickened.
Add a tablespoon to the bottom of each ramekin; set aside. (Strawberries may be prepared up to three days ahead and refrigerated.)
Preheat oven to 320 degrees.
In a saucepan, place half-and-half. Using a small paring knife, scrape in vanilla seeds from split bean and toss in the pod itself. Bring to a gentle boil then remove from the pot. Allow to infuse for a minimum of 30 minutes. Use a fine sieve, strain the liquid. The half-and-half should remain warm to the touch.
In a bowl, beat the yolks with the sugar. Pour the infused half-and-half slowly, whisking the mixture. Stir in the vanilla extract. Pour the mixture into your ramekins or jars, making sure to remove any foam that might have formed on the surface.
Set jars in a pan and fill half way up the sides of the jars with warm water. Cover tightly with foil. Place in oven and cook for 40-45 minutes, until the custard is jiggly but not set.
Top with remaining roasted strawberries and/or sweetened whipped cream.
Note: Can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days after warming up at room temperature. But these are best when still slightly warm!
Adapted from/inspired by the amazing David Liebovitz.