Friday, April 26, 2013

Cheesecake Ice Cream with Strawberry Rhubarb Granita

I’m pretty obsessed with strawberries these days.  When the season shifts and the market is flooded with new fruit, it’s impossible not to get mesmerized.  Then I spotted some fresh rhubarb a couple of days ago and boom, I had to jump in. 

Even though one of my very favorite things is Strawberry Rhubarb Pie, I had some leftover cream cheese from another project so my senses wandered toward some sort of strawberries and cream thing.  Since, along with strawberries, it’s hard to resist a little slice of good cheesecake, I made an ice cream that has some of the same qualities as a good cheesecake. It’s a delicious but plain ice cream with a spot of lemon juice and vanilla to enhance the flavor.  Instead of adding strawberries and rhubarb to the ice cream base, I went with a granita to contrast the creamy with an icy tart fruit flavor.  I’ve also added some diced and sugared strawberries to bring another element of texture and freshness to the plate.  I like the way everything co-mingles without being overly rich.  

The ice cream is great on its own but is also the sort you can pair with lots of different fruit and cookies.  I’m thinking a fresh blueberry compote or a raspberry coulis would be fabulous or some fresh cherries roasted in balsamic when they roll in sometime in the next few weeks.  A parfait of layered ice cream, berries and crushed shortbread, graham crackers or cocoa wafers would also be a playful dessert.  

It’s spring - get your strawberry rhubarb on!

Bench notes:
- This is a simple ice cream made in a food processor. The cream cheese and small amount of heavy cream make for a good creamy mouthfeel without the need for egg yolks.
- The amount of sugar in the granita is going to depend on the ripeness of your fruit.  You may want to add a bit more once you’ve tasted the puree but too much sugar and the granita won’t freeze.
- Use a shallow container for the granita so it has more surface area and will freeze evenly.

Cheesecake Ice Cream with Strawberry Rhubarb Granita

Cheesecake Ice Cream
Makes about 1 pint

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 C milk
1/2 C heavy cream
1/2 C sugar
1 T + 1 t lemon juice, to taste
1/2 t vanilla
pinch salt, to taste

Strawberry Rhubarb Granita
Makes about 1 pint

6 oz (about 3 medium stalks) rhubarb                                  
1/2 C water                                      
1/4 C + 2 T sugar                                                                            
1/4 vanilla bean (optional)
zest of 1/2 orange
6 oz strawberries, plus more for garnish if desired
1 1/2 t lemon juice

For the ice cream, place all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth and well blended.  Taste and adjust for lemon juice and salt.  Pour into an airtight container and chill thoroughly, preferably overnight.

Churn according to your ice cream machine’s directions. Pour into an airtight container, press a piece of plastic wrap into the surface, cover and place in your freezer to firm up.
For the granita, trim and cut the rhubarb into 1/4" pieces.  Bring water and sugar to a boil. Lower the heat, add rhubarb, vanilla bean seeds and pod (if using), orange zest and simmer until tender, about 10 minutes. Take off the heat and cool.  Remove vanilla bean, if using.

Hull and slice the strawberries.  Place them in the bowl of a food processor with the cooled rhubarb.  Process until the fruit is pureed.  Add lemon juice.  Strain though a fine-mesh sieve and discard the solids.

Pour into a shallow airtight container, cover and place in the freezer. After about 2 hours, take the tines of a sturdy fork and scrape the surface of the granita to form slushy icy crystals. Place back in the freezer and repeat again in an hour or so.

For the strawberry garnish, slice or dice strawberries and place in a bowl with a sprinkle of sugar.   Toss thoroughly.  Serve a scoop of ice cream with a dollop of granita and strawberries.


Jerry | Simply Good Eating said...

This is a fantastic idea for ice cream especially with the spring time warming up and summer approaching :) Thanks for sharing this post!

pastry studio said...

You're very welcome, Jerry. Yes, it's a really good ice cream for this time of the year.

Love your blog! Thanks for stopping by.

Kate said...

I am with you on the SR Pie. I have had strawberry-cheesecake ice cream and thought it was wonderful. I do think I would prefer the plain cheesecake ice cream even more. As you sai, great canvas for other fruits too, and as always your suggestions send me swooning.
I would love to have a pint of each in the freezer to pull out and dazzle guests.
Thaanks for another happy Friday.

pastry studio said...

Kate, thank YOU, and cheers for a great weekend!