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~ Have a Blackberry-Cobbler Ice-Cream Kind of Day ~

IMG_9088Newsflash.  Blue Bell, the Texas-based ice cream company, announced on Twitter, that its Southern Blackberry-Cobbler Ice Cream will be available in stores, for a limited time only, starting Monday, June 4th.  This popular seasonal flavor consists of a creamy, blackberry-flavored vanilla ice cream with flaky pie crust pieces and blackberry sauce swirled throughout.  Being a worshiper of the blackberry, under normal circumstances, this news would have caused me to race around town in an attempt to hoard as much of it as I could stuff into my freezer.  It didn't.  Why?

Homemade blackberry-cobbler frozen custard + tips on adding fruit to ice-cream:

IMG_8541 IMG_9069 2I decided to make my own version of blackberry-cobbler ice-cream (frozen blackberry-cobbler custard, to be more specific), by adding some of my own homemade blackberry cobbler to a batch of my frozen vanilla-custard ice-cream base, as it churned away in my ice-cream making machine.  This wasn't an experiment for me -- I just wish I had thought of this flavor-concept sooner.  I knew it would work perfectly.  You see, had I long ago learned:  

In order to keep fresh fruit (most commonly strawberries), which is mostly water, from turning into fruity bits and clumps of rock-hard ice cubes, before adding it to the churning ice-cream base, it needs to be cooked in a manner that removes some of its water content and its concentrates flavor -- this is achieved by briefly simmering on the stovetop, or sometimes roasting in the oven (which conveniently happens as fruit and berries bake away in cobblers, crisps, etc.).

Occasionally, a recipe will instruct to macerate the fruit in alcohol, meaning sweetened, fruit-flavored brandies and fruit-flavored schnapps.  The food science behind this:  Alcohol has a lower freezing point than water, so, once added to the churning ice cream or custard, the fruit won't turn into fruity ice cubes.  I'm here to tell you this does not work perfectly.  You see, I long ago learned: While the maceration of fruit renders it soft and tender, most of its flavor gets leached into the liquid, leaving semi-flavorless and soggy fruit to add to the ice cream or frozen custard.  

The difference between ice cream & frozen custard:

IMG_9046During June, July and August, we'll all most-likely eat more ice cream than we did during the past nine months.  In my kitchen, I'll be making more during the next three months than I did during the past nine too.  That said, while everyone (myself included) will generically refer to it as ice cream, what I'll technically be making is frozen custard, and, if you make homemade ice cream, I'm betting you're making old-fashioned frozen custard (or a version of it), too.  Here's why:

De2oQusVQAEmuuh.jpg-largeStore-bought ice cream is made from milk or skim milk, or, milk or skim milk and cream, corn syrup or sugar, and flavorings.  Egg yolks are sometimes added, but not required. Ice cream is made in a machine that pumps lots of air into it as it churns, yielding a light mouthfeel.  It is federally defined as:  a frozen dessert containing 10% milk fat. That said, the simplicity of making old-fashioned ice cream has been so convoluted by high-tech machinery (to insure consistent, signature, hand-scoop-able texture), and additives, preservatives and stabilizers (for a long and palatable shelf life), one couldn't reproduce it adequately in the home kitchen, even if one was inclined to try.

IMG_9431Frozen custard is made from whole milk, or a combination of milk and cream, egg yolks, sugar and flavorings.  Egg-yolks are a requirement, and regulations require 1.4% egg yolks by weight.  The higher fat content (from milk and/or cream) gives it a rich, luxurious taste.  Whether made in a hand-crank or commercial machine, frozen custard is churned at a slow pace, to incorporate little air, giving it its dense texture.  Because it melts almost on contact with the lips (similar to soft serve ice cream), it is best served immediately, directly from the machine it was made in.

Frozen-custard and ice-cream  recipes are not created equal.  Sometimes the consistency is too soft, sometimes its too dense, or worse, sometimes it's full of nasty ice crystals.  Some recipes are cloyingly sweet, and other times, there's simply not enough flavoring added.  Frozen custard and ice-cream are both emulsions with two components (fat and water) that need lots of encouragement to meld, by adding components that absorb water (sugar, starch and protein).

A little bit of rich & creamy frozen custard history:

IMG_9054Frozen custard was invented on Coney Island, NY, in 1919.  Two ice-cream venders, Archie and Elton Kohr, discovered that when they added egg yolks to their home-made ice-cream base, they produced a richer, creamier, smoother ice cream.  On the first weekend they sold 18,460 cones. They had invented the precursor to our present-day soft-serve ice cream, with one exception: little air was pumped into their product.  As described above, true frozen custard is quite dense.  The mixture enters a refrigerated tube, and, as it freezes, blades scrape the frozen product from the sides of the barrel walls.  Unlike hand-scooped ice cream, the mixture stays in the machine, being discharged directly into cones or cups, on an as-needed basis, to be served immediately.

IMG_8947For my easy-to-make, foolproof vanilla-flavored custard-base:

2  cups heavy cream

2  cups whole milk

2  tablespoons pure vanilla extract*

2  tablespoons firmly-packed cornstarch

8  large egg yolks

1 1/4  cups granulated sugar

1/4  teaspoon sea salt

*Note:  Because my blackberry cobbler is doubly-flavored, with blackberry brandy and pure blackberry extract, there is no reason to add either to my vanilla-flavored custard base.

IMG_8948 IMG_8948 IMG_8948~ Step 1.  Place cream, 1 1/2 cups of the milk and vanilla extract in a 4-quart saucepan on the stovetop. In a 2-cup measuring container, using a fork, whisk together the remaining 1/2 cup milk and cornstarch.  Set aside.

IMG_8957 IMG_8957 IMG_8957 IMG_8957 IMG_8957 IMG_8957 IMG_8957~Step 2.  In a medium bowl, use the fork to whisk egg yolks, sugar and salt. Add the egg yolk mixture to the 2-cup container with the milk/cornstarch mixture.  Use the fork to vigorously combine the two mixtures.  Set aside.

IMG_8974 IMG_8974 IMG_8974 IMG_8974~Step 3.  Heat the saucepan of milk mixture on the stovetop over medium heat.  Heat the mixture until almost steaming (not full-steaming, simmering or boiling), whisking occasionally, about 2-3 minutes.  Adjust heat to low.  While whisking constantly, gradually and in a slow steady stream, whisk the egg yolk/sugar/milk/cornstarch mixture into the almost-steaming milk mixture.  Increase heat to medium and continue to cook, whisking constantly, until mixture begins to thicken, about 2-3 minutes.  In the beginning, mixture will be foamy on top.  As foam subsides and when mixture begins to thicken, switch from whisk to a large spoon to stir.  Continue to cook gently until custard base is simmering gently, nicely-thickened, silky-smooth and ribbon like, about 3-4 minutes.

IMG_9003 IMG_9003~ Step 4.  Remove saucepan from heat and immediately transfer custard base to a 2-quart food storage container.  Cover the surface of the custard base with a layer of plastic wrap, meaning: don't cover the container, lay the plastic directly on the surface of the custard (to prevent a rubbery skin from forming on the top).  Cool for 1-2 hours prior to putting the lid on the container and refrigerating for several hours to overnight.

IMG_9012 IMG_9012 IMG_9012 IMG_9012~Step 5.  From here forward, for the rest of this recipe, follow the directions that came with your ice-cream maker.  Because mine has a built-in freezing system, I pour all of the cold custard base into the stainless steel work bowl (which has been pre-chilled by the machine for me).  The lid goes on the work bowl and the machine gets turned on to churn for 1 hour - 1 hour, 10 minutes. The frozen vanilla-custard is ready to be served.  It's done.  To add the blackberry cobbler:

IMG_9025 IMG_9025~Step 6.  While custard is churning, portion 1-pound of my blackberry cobbler recipe -- use another at your own risk -- which has been chilled in the refrigerator for several hours.  Use a teaspoon to cobble it up into blackberry-sized pieces.  Return plate of cobbler pieces to refrigerator until custard has churned for 1 hour.

IMG_9033 IMG_9033 IMG_9033 IMG_9033~Step 7.  Open lid of the ice-cream machine.  As  custard churns, begin dropping cobbler pieces from plate into work bowl, a few at time, until all have been individually churned into the custard. Return lid to machine and churn another 20-30 minutes, until desired consistency is reached.

Scoop atop a bowl full of cobbler or into an ice-cream cone...

IMG_9059 2... atop a bowl full of blackberry cobbler is da bomb...

IMG_9094... & enjoy your journey back to a kinder, gentler time. 

IMG_9113Have a Blackberry Cobbler Ice Cream Kind of Day:  Recipe yields 1 1/2 quarts blackberry cobbler ice cream.

Special Equipment List:  2-cup measuring container; fork; 4-quart saucepan; whisk; large spoon; 2-quart food storage container w/tight-fitting lid; plastic wrap; ice-cream maker; ice-cream scoop

6a0120a8551282970b0168e4f037de970cCook's Note:  For another type of frozen treat, one that's perfectly-portioned and more kid-friendly than blackberry cobbler, check out my recipe for ~ Decidedly-Decandent Frozen-Hot-Chocolate Pops ~. 

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2018)


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