The ice cream base in this recipe is a fantastic starting point for any seasonal fruit flavor. We have a wild rhubarb plant growing behind an old building at Zapata. Last week I harvested some of the rhubarb and made a simple compote that goes great on toast or mixed into some yogurt and granola. This recipe takes the compote a step further by swirling it into a custardy vanilla ice cream. The result is a rich, creamy, and slightly tart ice cream, similar to strawberry ice cream. I sprinkled a little flaky salt over my scoop.
2 lbs rhubarb, trimmed and chopped into ¼ inch pieces
¾ cup water
2 cups sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 bay leaf
Combine the rhubarb pieces and water in a large non-reactive pot. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the rhubarb begins to soften, about 1 hour.
Add the sugar, cinnamon, and bay leaf to the rhubarb. Cover the pot and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until very thick, about 1 ½-2 hours. Remove from the pot from the heat, uncover, and allow to cool thoroughly.
The compote can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Ice Cream Base
Makes a little over one pint of ice cream
1 cup (250 g) whole milk
1 cup (230 g) heavy cream
1 vanilla bean
4 large egg yolks
¼ cup (50 g) sugar
pinch of salt
In a small saucepan combine the milk, cream, and seeds from the vanilla bean (you can save the bean pods or throw them into the milk mixture) over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a very light boil and then remove from heat. Allow the mixture to cool and infuse for up to one hour, the longer you leave the mixture to infuse the more pronounced the vanilla flavor will be.
Strain the mixture to remove any vanilla bean pieces. Reheat the mixture over low heat until it begins to simmer.
In a small heatproof bowl thoroughly whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, and salt.
Using a ladle, slowly drizzle some of the warm milk mixture into the bowl, making sure to stir as you’re drizzling. It is very important to add the warm milk slowly and constantly stir so the eggs gradually increase in temperature but do not cook. Continue adding the milk to the eggs until the two mixtures are well combined. Pour the contents of the bowl back into the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the custard thickens and coats the back of a spoon. This process should take roughly ten minutes.
When the custard is thickened pour it through a sieve or mesh strainer into a bowl set into a larger bowl full of ice or very cool water. Cover the bowl of custard and place the bowl and the ice bath in the refrigerator. Allow the custard to cool completely before churning.
When the custard is cool, churn it according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.
When the ice cream is about ¾ through its churn cycle add the rhubarb compote (or any other ingredients), tasting after each addition until you reach your preferred taste.