It's been a while since I've been to the Union Square green market and during my absence, the south side of the park has exploded with summer berries, fruits, and veggies. One of my finds was a delightfully fragrant basket of small blueberries.
Blueberries are loaded with nutrients and phytochemicals that have been associated with lowering the risk of cancer, preventing Alzheimer's, lowering blood pressure and preventing urinary tract infections. As good as they are for you, I've never been a huge fan except in baked goods and pancakes, but this basket looked so tasty I decided it's high time I give this underutilized berry a chance to be something more than a mere afterthought.
Helen over at Tartelette made some blueberry swirl ice cream the other day which looked absolutely phenomenal, thus an idea was born. Not wanting to be unoriginal and wanting to preserve some of the healthiness of the blueberries (ok... now that's a total lie because this is by no-stretch of the imagination healthy), I decided to go with a gelato base (which uses no egg yolks and less cream). L has been drinking this blueberry tea that always smells fantastic so that's where the tea idea came from.
This is quite possibly the best churned frozen thing I've ever made. It's not quite as simple as the custard-less varieties I've posted about here, here, and here, but since it doesn't use egg yolks it's somewhat simpler while being ultra creamy and velvety smooth. The combination of the creamy tea and tart floral blueberries was what really shone and made me wonder why no-one uses teas other than matcha for ice cream? I'm thinking combo's like Earl Grey and lemon curd, or strawberry jasmine, or even mugicha (roasted barley) fudge would be sublime.
for blueberry swirl
- Pour 1 3/4 C whole milk into a 2 cup liquid measuring cup then add 1/4 cup of cream. Stir, then pour 1 1/2 C of the liquid into a small saucepan. Add the sugar to the sauce pan and heat over medium heat until you see wisps of steam rising (but it's not boiling). Turn the heat off and steep the tea until the liquid is a creamy caramel color. Remove the tea bag(s) or strain the liquid if you used loose leaf tea.
- Add the corn starch to the remaining 1/2 C of milk mixture and whisk to combine. Pour this into the saucepan and whisk to combine. Return to the stove and heat over medium heat stirring with a silicone spatula to make sure the milk doesn't burn.
- Once the mixture is the consistency of thin gravy, take it off the heat and put it in a bowl to cool to room temperature then put the bowl in the refrigerator to cool completely.
- For the swirl just combine the blueberries, sugar and starch and mix together in a small saucepan over low heat. As the blueberries start to release their juices, stir vigorously to slightly crush the blueberries and to ensure the starch doesn't clump. Turn up the heat to medium and cook, stirring until the sauce has thickened. Cool to room temperature then throw it in the fridge until you're ready to use.
- Follow your ice cream maker's directions to freeze the gelato, then when it's finished, swirl in the blueberry mixture with a spatula.