You know that guy that never seems to know when the party is over? Well, in the party known as summertime, I’m that guy.
It’s been a few weeks since the official end of summer and, I’m still not ready to let go. The sun. The outdoor neighborhood cafes. The ease of throwing on my favorite tattered shorts and racing out of the door. With that said, I was beginning to embrace fall. But then came the setback. I was hit with a sight that screamed, “Don’t give up just yet!”
Walking around my neighbor, I saw it… a lone wild tomato plant growing in a patch of dirt. A wild tomato plant?…growing in downtown Brooklyn?…in October?
It made me think, “If this little guy can struggle and hold on past his seasonal prime then surely I can join him in his one-man fight to save “Fun Under the Sun.’”
Later that night it hits me, “I’ll make ice cream.” I mean, there’s nothing that says summer like ice cream. And because I came up with this Quixotesque plan over a glass of vino, I was inspired to make a red wine ice cream.
A quick web search brought me to a 2004 NY Times recipe for red wine ice cream. I decided to tweak it a bit. It was too one dimensional for my taste. For a bit of sweetness, I decided to incorporate stewed blackberries. Also, I thought blackberries would bring out the berry flavor of the wine grapes.
This ice cream has a beautifully complex flavor profile. It’s sweet, creamy (it uses 9 egg yolks) and has a slight sourness to it (I’m assuming because of the tannins). The frozen blackberries add a pop of fruity flavor as well as a bit of texture. And at the risk of scaring someone of you away, the peppercorns and cinnamon sticks give the ice cream an almost undetectable hint of spice. Served with a drizzle of the blackberry syrup, it makes a deliciously atypical frozen treat.
For a moment, I forgot about the loss of summer. I was feeling good about my seasonal coup. Walking around my neighborhood a day later, I mentally dismiss people in their autumn jackets for giving up so soon.
I approach the spot of the tomato plant that so inspired me to join his seasonal battle. I’m not sure if was the cool autumn nights or the countless dogs who relieved themselves but, I was horrified to see that my tomato plant, my little mighty engine that could, had bitten the dust.
Today, I’m wearing a long-sleeved shirt and light jacket. As Kenny Rogers once sang, “You gotta know when to hold. Know when to fold them.”
NOTE: I used the Spanish red wine, Grenache. If you can’t find it, any full body red will do. Since the recipe calls for 2 standard bottles of wine, I recommend that you buy one large 1.5 litter bottle. It will be cheaper and it’s not hard to find a decent bottle.
NOTE II: You may wind up with a bit too much ice cream batter for your maker. If this happens do not overfill your ice cream maker – it may not churn properly.
BLACKBERRY & RED WINE ICE CREAM (with Blackberry Syrup Topping)
Adapted from the NY Times
1 1/2 cups sugar (plus, 3 TBL)
1 pint blackberries
2 bottles full-bodied red wine
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 TSP whole black peppercorns
2 cups milk
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 TSP kosher salt
1/8 TSP vanilla extract.
In a medium-sized saucepan over a medium high flame, add ¼ cup of sugar, blackberries and 3 tablespoons of water. Stirring occasionally, cook the blackberries until they have slightly broken down and released a good deal of their juices, about five minutes. Strain to separate juice and berries. Refrigerate the blackberries until they are completely cool. Add juice back to the saucepan and cook over medium heat until it thickens to a rich syrup, about 2 minutes. Refrigerate the syrup until it’s cool.
Pour wine into a large pot and bring to a simmer. Add cinnamon sticks and peppercorns. Simmer until the wine is reduced to 1 cup (it should take about 1 hour).
In a large pan, bring the milk, cream and half of the sugar to a boil and turn off heat. In a bowl, whisk together yolks and remaining sugar. Temper the yolks into the boiling milk by gradually whisking about 1 cup of milk into the yolks and adding this back into the pot with the remaining milk. Stir in the salt and the vanilla. Whisk in the reduced wine. Set pan over a bowl full of ice to cool. Pour the chilled ice cream base through a fine mesh strainer. Process the base in an ice-cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Add stewed blackberries into the maker five minutes before stopping it. Freeze in the freezer for at least 2 hours before serving.
Serve ice cream with a drizzle of syrup over each serving.