This, my friends, is what happens when you take a classic dessert, break it down to its basic elements, and make it better. Roasting the strawberries turns them into a completely different beast- sweet, tart, and intensely flavored- and they shine when paired with a sweet, creamy, and slightly tangy buttermilk custard. If you are going to make only one ice cream this spring, make it this one.
2 cups cream
2/3 cup sugar
Scrapings from 1 plump vanilla bean
Healthy pinch kosher salt
1 cup full-fat buttermilk (really, use the full fat stuff)
5 egg yolks
Roasted strawberries (recipe below)
1. In a medium saucepan, heat the cream, sugar, vanilla bean and scrapings, and salt. Bring to a simmer, stir, then remove from heat. Cover and let steep for about an hour.
2. Pour the buttermilk into a container that has a tight-fitting lid. This will be the container you end up storing your ice cream in, so make sure it is appropriately sized. Place a fine mesh strainer over the container and set aside. Place the egg yolks in a medium bowl and whisk briefly, then set aside.
3. Reheat the cream mixture, stirring a few times, until it starts to steam and is very hot to the touch. Starting with just a couple tablespoons at a time and then gradually increasing (you can eyeball this- no need to measure), pour the hot cream into the egg yolks while constantly whisking the yolks. Once you have about half of the liquid added, you can pour the remainder in pretty quickly. Then, pour the new egg/cream mixture back into the saucepan and place over medium low/medium heat.
4. Stirring constantly with a wooden spoon and making sure to have it in constant contact with the bottom of the pan, gently cook the custard until it is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. You may have to play with your stove temperature a bit here. What you don’t want is curdled egg, so if your spoon is pulling up curdled egg, remove the pot from the heat immediately, let it cool for a brief minute, then return it to lowered heat.
5. Once the custard has reached the proper consistency, pour it through the strainer and into the cold buttermilk, then stir immediately to stop any further cooking. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or until thoroughly chilled (overnight is best).
6. Freeze in your ice cream churn, according to manufacturer’s instructions. As you pour the frozen custard back into the resealable container, dollop the roasted strawberries into the container with the ice cream and then stir very briefly. Cover and freeze for a few hours before serving.
To roast the strawberries:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and cover a baking sheet in a single layer of strawberries (sliced in half if they are large). Sprinkle the berries with a teaspoon of sugar. Roast for 20-30 minutes, stirring a few times during roasting, or until most of the liquid that has been released has cooked off. Remove to a bowl and refrigerate until completely cooled before folding into the ice cream.