BERRIES HAVE THE BEST MOUTHFEEL, the way you can feel each one individually in your mouth—like tapioca, or really well-cooked sushi rice. But people have lost some important berry vibe. These days everybody wants them to be sweet. I think they should be sour. That’s what I liked about saskatoons when I first encountered them in Newfoundland, where they call them serviceberries. I also like how the harvest window is so small. They’re not exactly rare. But commercially, you don’t see them that much. The last thing is that they’re really good for you—rich in anti-oxidants and very healthy. —J.C.
My collection of ice cream machines includes a century-old Swedish-made Husqvarna, which consists of metal drum attached to a hand-crank set over a wooden bucket.
From the early noughts, there’s a Cuisinart that pairs an electric motor to a gel-filled sleeve that had to be frozen for at least two days before use. My latest acquisition (just in time for Ice Cream Day) is a spanking new, completely digitized and automated model from Breville called The Smart Scoop.
If these machines were instead computers, the Husqvarna would be an abacus (cool to look at, impossible to use). The Cuisinart is more the Commodore 64 (revolutionary and cheap, once – but in a time long past). And the Smart Scoop, well – it’s an iPhone (it does everything you want it to, plus a whole bunch more that you’ll never bother to find out about).
I have been experimenting with The SmartScoop for three weeks now. It is fully automated and equipped with its own compressor; plug it in, push a button, and it’s ready to go. All you have to do is make your base, chill it well, and you are half an hour away from perfect, smooth rich ice cream. My favourite is praline, with a 50:50 split of hazelnut and almond paste churned into the chilling custard. Strawberry – made with a fresh purée of field-harvested fresh local berries – is a close second. But the unanimous crowd pleaser is vanilla chocolate chip, made with hand-chopped Valrhona 70% dark single plantation chocolate, grass-fed organic cream, farm eggs and Madagascar vanilla, and no additives or preservatives (that’s right: it’s good for you).
Vanilla chocolate chip ice cream
375 ml (1½ cups) whole milk
375 ml (1½ cups) whipping cream
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
6 egg yolks
125 ml (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
125 ml (1/2 cup)* chopped top quality dark cholate (like Valrhona Guanaja 70%)
*use more if you want to!
Combine whole milk and cream in a saucepan and heat nearly to a simmer. Add vanilla bean and seeds and set aside to steep. Meanwhile, in a large bowl whisk together egg yolks and sugar until the mixture gets fluffy and turns pale yellow. Add a tablespoon or two of the hot milk mixture to the egg mixture and whisk. Transfer the tempered egg mixture to the saucepan with the hot milk and cream, and stir with a wooden spoon (no more whisking – you don’t want air in the mixture). Place saucepan on medium low heat, and continue to stir gently. Heat mixture to 85°C. Or, if you don’t have a candy thermometer, keep stirring until mixture thickens enough to coat the back of the wooden spoon. Do not boil. As soon as mixture is thickened strain it through a fine mesh sieve into a clean mixing bowl set over a large bowl of iced water. Stir to cool. Once cool, transfer to the refrigerator – preferably overnight (the cooler the custard you start your ice cream with, the richer it will be).
Churn according to your ice cream manufacturer’s instructions – adding chocolate chips five or ten minutes from completion.