A friend, who knows how much I enjoy creating in the kitchen, recently asked if I would develop a special cranberry ice cream for a family member’s birthday. Since it’s fall cranberry season around here, I eagerly accepted the challenge.
(For those accustomed to me writing about technology topics, I assure you that food creation is a solid branch of geekery too.)
After looking at recipes on the internet and trying a few experiments, I determined that most tasted fruity but lacked that wonderful, bracing tartness and flavor that screams “cranberries!”
That meant upping the ratio of the fruit to dairy and sugar, which can cause ice crystals and diminish the creaminess. The solution is to use a bit of corn syrup instead of all sugar. (Thanks to Alton Brown and one of his science lessons in an ice cream episode of Good Eats many years ago for the chemistry on that.)
Also, like many fruity ice creams, eggs in the mix can mask some of the fruitiness. (Thanks to ice cream wizard Max Falkowitz, especially his old Serious Eats ice cream articles, for that.) So I went eggless for this recipe. That also means no cooking is needed, making for a super simple recipe.
While I was at it, I made another batch for myself that I like to call “Kickberry” because it has the addition of candied hot habanero pepper bits. Spicy and sweet works so well together, as does spicy and creamy. This has it all: cool and creamy, fruity, tart and sweet, with an afterburn kick—oh yeah! See the notes for the details.
Tart Cranberry Ice CreamCourse: DessertDifficulty: Easy
A perfect fall ice cream that is fruity and creamy with that signature cranberry tartness.
- Cranberry Puree
24 oz fresh cranberries, washed and sorted (typically 2 bags)
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon orange juice
- Ice Cream
3 cups half and half
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
- Cook the cranberries, water, salt, and orange juice in a large saucepan until they break down, maybe 10 to 15 minutes.
- Allow to cool for 15 minutes or so then puree in a blender, food processor, or mash by hand. Press the cranberry mush through a fine mesh strainer to remove the skin and seeds.
- Mix together the half and half, sugar, corn syrup, and cranberry puree. Put it in the refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours—overnight is even better.
- Churn the mixture in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer the ice cream to a chilled container and stow it in the freezer to harden for a few hours before serving.
- Chilling the mix to below 40° F before churning helps stop the formation of ice crystals.
- Honey would be a good substitute for the corn syrup because it also has ice-crystal busting power. It would alter the flavor, but in a pleasant way.
- For a kicked up version, finely chop a few habanero chilies after removing the seeds and inner membranes. Candy the peppers by sautéing in butter and honey for a few minutes. Add them and any liquid in the pan to the mix before refrigerating so that hot pepper goodness can steep in the dairy while it cools down.