I know I don't seem like the kind of woman who would take food from a baby's mouth, but here's my son's version of a recurrent childhood experience. Joshua, now 37, claims that on the nights when, for some reason or another, he didn't get dessert, I would tell him, "Go to sleep now and you can have ice cream for breakfast!" His story is that he would go to bed, wake up, head straight for the freezer and find that I had eaten all the ice cream. Every last bit.
And here's my version: He's right.
I am helpless before ice cream. Along with dark M&M's and salty black licorice, ice cream is my Kryptonite. If I buy it - which I rarely do, because the consequences can be so dire - I might just eat it spoonful by spoonful standing up, trying to trick myself into believing I am "just having a taste." But if I make it, which I often do because I love eating it just-churned and then fully frozen, I'll make a celebration of it by turning simple ice cream into a elegant-enough-for-company dessert. In other words, I'll make a sundae.
In winter, it's hot fudge forever. But these days, I'm wearing out this summer berry sundae, a construction anchored by fresh raspberry ice cream made with buttermilk and yogurt, topped with a fresh raspberry drizzle-over, mixed berries in a light sugar-and-citrus syrup and softly whipped cream. Of course it's delicious, but it's also naturally beautiful. The berries make any other decoration unnecessary.
You can substitute store-bought ice cream for the homemade; it can be any berry flavor or plain, delicious vanilla. But if you have an ice cream maker, I would love for you to make this recipe, which is great. It's a Philadelphia-style ice cream, meaning it is made with no eggs, no custard, no stove-top precooking involved. The mixture is done in a blender or food processor, and it has a sweet-tangy flavor that's hard to come by in the freezer section of your supermarket.
It also has an amazing texture, something that's not so easy to get when you're using fresh fruit. The secret: vodka. Just a little, yet just enough to lower the freezing point and keep the ice cream smooth and scoopable. Adding liquor means the ice cream will take longer to set once it is churned, but I like to think that means you have a longer time to eat it like soft-serve.
• This ice cream base is not as rich as most, so the milk powder (or powdered milk) is an important ingredient. It helps round out the texture of the ice cream without adding fat. It does have one downside: a habit of hiding out in clumps at the bottom of the blender or along the sides. So scrape the jar often and assiduously.
• You can use other berries for the ice cream; just make sure they're small. If you use strawberries, cut them into bite-size bits.
• The raspberry drizzle-over is technically a coulis, berries pureed with a minuscule amount of sugar and a squirt of lime juice, if you like. I make the puree with a handheld blender; you can also use a mini processor or, simplest yet, mash the berries with a potato masher or ricer and finish the job with a fork. If you plan to distribute the puree via squeeze bottle, strain it first.
• When you whip the heavy cream, stop when it just starts to thicken; add the sugar, vanilla and the sour cream, if you're using it (use it; it makes the cream kind of like crÃ¨me fraÃ®che); then beat just until it holds medium-soft peaks. You can go further, beating until it's scoopable, but I think the texture of soft cream is the best match for the elements in the sundae squad.
• Choose whatever berries you'd like for a topping, and let them macerate in the sugar until they yield a little syrup. You can do that ahead of serving time, but if you want to add the lime juice, hold off on doing so until the last minute, so the acidity doesn't soften or discolor the berries.
Hey, Josh! Come on over. We'll have ice cream for breakfast. And this time, I promise it will be there.
DORIE GREENSPAN'S SUMMER SUNDAES WITH RASPBERRY ICE CREAM
SERVINGS: 6 (makes a generous 1 quart of ice cream)
This dessert is built for summer.
MAKE AHEAD: The churned ice cream needs to set in the freezer for at least 3 hours and (packed airtight) up to 2 weeks. The fresh berries need to macerate for at least 10 minutes at room temperature or up to 8 hours in the refrigerator. The raspberry drizzle-over can be made and refrigerated up to 2 days in advance. The whipped cream can be refrigerated a few hours in advance; whisk vigorously a few times just before serving.
For the ice cream
• About 3/4 cup fresh raspberries (a little more or a little less is fine)
• 1 cup shaken buttermilk, regular or low-fat
• 1 cup heavy cream
• 1/3 cup sugar
• 1/4 cup honey
• Pinch fine sea salt
• 1 cup plain yogurt, preferably Greek (can be nonfat)
• 1/4 cup powdered milk
• 2 tablespoons vodka
• 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
• Sliced almonds, toasted (optional; see NOTE)
For the berries
• 1 1/2 cups mixed berries, such as blueberries, raspberries and hulled strawberries (cut strawberries into small pieces)
• 1 tablespoon sugar
• Squirt fresh lime juice (optional)
For the drizzle-over
• 1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries
• 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
• Fresh lime juice
For the whipped cream
• 1/3 cup very cold heavy cream
• 1 tablespoon sour cream (optional)
• 1/2 teaspoon sugar
• 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
For the ice cream: Combine the berries, buttermilk, cream, sugar, honey and salt in a blender (preferable) or food processor. Puree for as long as 2 minutes; you want the mixture to be very smooth. Add the yogurt, powdered milk, vodka and vanilla extract; puree until the mixture is once again smooth, stopping to scrape the jar or bowl a few times to make sure the milk powder hasn't clumped on the bottom or sides. If you don't want the occasional bit of seed in your ice cream - I like it - strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer and discard any solids.
Depending on your ice cream maker, you may have to thoroughly chill the mixture before churning. Follow the manufacturer's directions to churn the custard into ice cream. Pack the ice cream in an airtight container and freeze for at least 3 hours or until firm enough to scoop.
For the berries: Stir together the berries and sugar in a medium bowl; allow to stand at room temperature for at least 10 minutes, stirring a few times, until a little syrup collects in the bowl. Taste, and add lime juice, if you'd like, but only if you're using the berries right away (because the acid in the juice will "cook" some of the berries). They can hold at room temperature for up to 2 hours; after that, cover and refrigerate for up to 8 hours. Stir before using. The yield is about 11/2 cups.
For the drizzle-over: Combine the berries and sugar in a blender (you can use an immersion blender or a mini food processor); puree until smooth. Stir in the lime juice (to taste). The yield is about 3/4 cup.Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 days.
For the whipped cream: Pour the cream into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a balloon-whisk attachment, or use a handheld electric mixer; beat on medium speed until it thickens slightly. Stop to add the sour cream, if using, then add the sugar and vanilla extract; beat until the cream holds medium-soft peaks. The cream is nicest when it doesn't hold a firm shape. The yield is about 3/4 cup.
When ready to assemble, put 2 scoops of ice cream in each bowl or glass; cocktail (martini) glasses are fun. Spoon in some of the drizzle-over, followed by the macerated berries, whipped cream, more drizzle-over and some toasted almonds, if you like.
NOTE: Toast the sliced almonds in a small, dry skillet over medium-low heat for several minutes, until fragrant and lightly browned, shaking the pan to avoid scorching them. Cool completely before using.
Nutrition | Per serving (using low-fat buttermilk and nonfat Greek yogurt): 320 calories, 6 g protein, 37 g carbohydrates, 17 g fat, 10 g saturated fat, 60 mg cholesterol, 90 mg sodium, 4 g dietary fiber, 32 g sugar