Dried Apricot Ice Cream – Dairy Free

I got a new ice cream maker for my birthday. Her name is Betty, and she is fire-engine red, and oh-so pretty. My old ice cream maker that has put in hard-service for 7 years was starting to complain about mix-ins and was tricky to clean. So with a generous amazon gift certificate from my brother for my birthday, I bought Betty.

And for my first batch of ice cream, David Lebovitz’ Dried Apricot ice cream caught my eye…and has now stolen my heart. Like David, I adore dried apricots, and really have to watch my apricot-scarfing, as they are not a low-cal snack! My favorites are the California slab apricots from Trader Joes – they have a nice twangy tartness, and always seem pretty fresh. I did want to make this one dairy-free, so I went with an all-coconut base. The pectin in the apricots and the thick milk made for a VERY creamy ice cream…Mark thought it was too creamy, and I informed him that it simply wasn’t possible for ice cream to be too creamy. I’d definitely make this one again, and it’ll be a nice bright flavor for winter, when other fruits aren’t available.

The recipe also calls for steeping the apricots in white wine – I used my current favorite Vinho Verde Gazela white wine – it’s light, crisp, slightly bubbly, and less than $10 a bottle. You really couldn’t detect the wine flavor in the finished ice cream, but I did enjoy a couple glasses of Gazela with dinner last night on the balcony.

Dried Apricot Ice Cream
adapted from David Lebovitz, The Perfect Scoop

2 cans canned coconut milk (Choakoh is the best Thai brand)
5oz dried California apricots, roughly chopped
3/4 cup light white wine
1/2 cup sugar
a few drops of lemon juice

Warm the apricots and wine in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer, and cook for 5 minutes. Turn heat off and cover. Let the apricots steep for an hour. Then, pour the apricots and wine, sugar, coconut milk and lemon juice into the blender and puree until smooth. Chill thoroughly before turning in your ice cream maker.

Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

First of all, Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there, and especially to mine! Like most Dads, ours reigned over the meat grilling, and did a fine job with the handling of meat and fire. Dad taught us a lot of things – like how to mow the lawn and clean the pool – skills that I don’t use much in my urban life…But now that I’m an adult, I really appreciate how he always put family first. His job was a means to allow him time to spend with the family, and it was important to him to be home around 5:30 every evening. His job was over an hour away from home, so this meant getting up early so that he could be home at a reasonable hour. And I find that I’ve set up my career the same way – I’m usually at my desk at 7a.m., and try to leave the office at 4pm, so that I’m home around 5p.m. (I also seem to have acquired the hour-long commute, too – but at least I do it on bike or train). So thanks for being home with us every evening, Dad, and attending all of our basketball games, track meets, concerts, plays and always being proud of us. We will definitely be commemorating the day with some grilled lamburgers a bit later on.

And now, to the ice cream…The June strawberry fest continues unabated this week in our home, though I think I’m glad that I bought my flat of strawberries last week – all the rain this week has waterlogged the berries, and while they’re still excellent, they were more excellent last week. Glad my freezer is already well-stocked.

Anyway, with a few more quarts of berries in the fridge, it was definitely time to whip up some ice cream. Do not make this ice cream with store-bought strawberries. And if I’m being straight with you, dear readers, I’d also tell you to *never* buy strawberries in a grocery store. California grows crap strawberries, and the ones shipped cross country are nothing like the luscious, sweet as candy berries that are grown locally by Midwest farmers. So get your behind out of bed on the weekends and hit the farmer’s market in June if you want REAL berries.

This ice cream is awesome. I know I say that a lot, and maybe my standards are low, as I rarely make a batch of ice cream that isn’t worthy of illicit spoonfuls stolen from the container late at night or early in the morning. This ice cream is light, and tastes of beautiful fresh berries, with a cheesecakey finish, thanks to the addition of goat cheese. You might think goat cheese an odd addition to ice cream, but it really did bring in the cheesecake flavor, with less than half the calories and fat. Give this one a turn in your ice cream maker while the berries are still good!

Strawberry ice cream with goat cheese
makes a bit more than a quart

1 quart strawberries, washed, stems removed and sliced
3/4 cup sugar
1 13oz can coconut milk
3/4 cup half & half
pinch of salt
3 egg yolks
4oz fresh goat cheese
2 T vodka

  1. Separate the egg yolks from the whites. Set aside the yolks in a bowl, and save the whites for later use.
  2. Place cleaned and sliced strawberries in a bowl with the sugar and vodka and let it sit for an hour, stirring every now and again.
  3. After an hour has passed, heat the coconut milk and half & half in a small saucepan gently. When the milks are warm, but not yet hot, whisk the yolks in their bowl, and then sloooowly pour in the milk, whisking constantly. The goal is to keep the eggs from scrambling. When the milk and yolks have been combined, pour the mixture back into your saucepan, and gently heat while stirring constantly with a rubber spatula, making sure you scrape the edges and bottoms.
  4. Heat the custard until it gets steamy and thickens so that it will coat the back of a spoon. It will be about 170 degrees when the custard is done.
  5. Crumble the goat cheese into a large bowl, and then place a fine mesh sieve over the bowl. Pour the custard through the sieve and into the bowl, and stir to melt the goat cheese, making a smooth mixture. Set the custard aside for a few moments to cool.
  6. When the custard has cooled off quite a bit, pour it into a blender along with the strawberries and their juices. Puree in the blender, then chill thoroughly before turning in your ice cream maker.

Sweet Success: Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream

It’s been a rough week in our house, with a wonderful end to the weekend. All month we’d been looking forward to participating in a 30-mile bike ride for the American Cancer Society’s Walk & Roll event, and today was the big day. We rounded up a few friends to join us on the ride, and together we raised $1,350 to support the services of the American Cancer Society!

And then, on Tuesday I got “doored” on my ride home…for those not familiar with this foe of urban bikers, it’s when a person in a parked car opens their car door and hits a biker. In my case, I was riding at a brisk pace, and was thrown from my bike. Thankfully, nothing was broken, but I’ve got some large and very colorful bruises and a torqued shoulder. The shoulder pretty much put me out of commission for the rest of the week as far as biking goes. Then on Wednesday, Dave – a member of our cycling team, got hit by a car on his ride home from work…only Dave’s accident required an ambulence and ended in a broken wrist and wearing a cast for 6 weeks. So, Dave and I were benched for the ride, and Danielle was kind enough to join us for the 5-mile walk option for Walk & Roll, serving as official escort of the walking wounded. Greg and Mark ended up being the only cyclists for Team Responsible Adults, but they did us proud, finishing the 30 miles easily and safely!

Special thanks to all who supported us today – your gifts will help many cancer patients in Illinois receive care and services that they need to fight cancer.

After the beautiful walk this morning, I decided that we needed a sweet end to the beautiful weekend, so I happily opened my brand new ice cream cookbook, The Perfect Scoop, in search of inspiration. I found exactly what I was looking for in a chocolate peanut butter ice cream. I know I write about ice cream a lot, but it’s not only a dessert that I love, but it’s so simple to make at home, and to make gluten-free! I switched up the original recipe a bit using half-dairy/half coconut milk as I normally do (and this would work fine with all coconut milk if you’re dairy-free). I also made my own peanut butter by simply tossing peanuts in the food processor and running it until it turned to butter, adding 1tsp walnut oil to loosen it up just a touch. The final touch to the ice cream came when I decided to make some chocolate covered peanuts to add in as a mix-in. The finished ice cream was incredible – the ice cream was a perfect creamy balance of peanut butter/chocolate flavor, and the sweet/salty chocolate covered peanuts took it right over the top. We’ll be savoring this quart of ice cream for a few days!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream
adapted from David Lebovitz, The Perfect Scoop

Makes one decadent quart

1 1/2 cups half & half
1 14oz can coconut milk
1/3 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 cup agave syrup
Pinch of salt
2/3 cup smooth peanut butter
2 T rum

  1. Whisk together the half-and-half, coconut milk, cocoa powder, sugar, and salt in a large saucepan. Heat the mixture, whisking frequently, until it comes to a full, rolling boil (it will start to foam up). Remove from the heat and whisk in the peanut butter, stirring until thoroughly blended. Let the mixture cool for a few minutes, then add rum and blend in the blender for a few seconds until smooth.
  2. Chill the mixture thoroughly, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Chocolate covered peanuts
1/4 cup chocolate chips
2/3 cup roasted peanuts
pinch of salt

  1. Melt the chocolate chips, then stir in the peanuts to coat, along with a pinch of salt. Scoop coated nuts onto a small sheet of parchment paper and smooth as best you can into one layer. Pop in the freezer to chill quickly. When the ice cream is almost done, remove the peanuts from the freezer, and break up the peanut mass into bite-sized chunks, or chop with a knife. Fold the chocolate peanut chunks into the finished ice cream as you pour it into a storage container.

Other People’s Blogs: Agave Sweetened Chocolate Ice Cream

What’s a girl to do with a few lonely egg yolks leftover after making a batch of macaroons? Lemon curd or ice cream? I only had one lemon on hand, so poor me, I had to resort to ice cream. And I felt like making something a little more decadent, so there was only one man to turn to – Mr. Ice Cream himself, David Lebovitz. Not only has he written a cookbook about ice cream, he writes a truly sweet blog about dessert and his life in Paris.

I found a recipe for an Agave-sweetened chocolate ice cream on David’s blog, and I had all of the ingredients, so I made up the base. I did use half coconut milk, half dairy, as usual, and I only used the three egg-yolks I had leftover from the macaroons. I haven’t made a true custard-based ice cream in a long time, and while it takes a little more effort than my usual ice creams and sorbets, it is SO worth the extra effort.

The finished ice cream has a velvety creaminess that is only achieved with the addition of egg yolks. And this ice cream packs some serious chocolate power – this is a very rich, adult ice cream, to be savored in small bowls, preferably shared with friends.