Sunday, May 17, 2009

Cheesecake Ice Cream

I've always been a cheesecake junkie. I love all types and forms, from rustic Italian ricotta cheesecake to dense, knock-your-socks-off New York-style cheesecake. Even frozen cheesecake sounds great to me, so I thought I'd try making a cheesecake-inspired ice cream. My friend Marshall Rosenthal, a pastry chef in Minnesota, makes a version with chunks of baked, chilled cheesecake in it, crust and all. I decided to try adding cream cheese and sour cream to a simple base of creme anglaise. I made a graham cracker crust, broke it into chunks, and served the ice cream on top. A refreshing strawberry sauce is the ideal accompaniment to this delightfully rich ice cream.

Cheesecake Ice Cream with Strawberry Sauce
Makes about 1 1/2 pints

Cheesecake Ice Cream:
2 1/2 cups milk
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
8 large egg yolks
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Graham Cracker Crust:
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Strawberry Sauce:
One 16-ounce bag frozen strawberries, thawed
1/3 to 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Make the ice cream base:
1. Combine the milk with 1/2 cup sugar in a medium saucepan. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring to dissolve the sugar, until scalding. Remove from heat.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and the remaining 1/2 cup sugar. Whisk about 1/2 cup of the hot milk into the yolks. Pour this mixture back into the saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture thickens enough to leave a path in the back of the sauce-coated spoon when you drag your finger across it. The mixture should register 170 degrees F. on an instant-read thermometer. Add the cream cheese, one chunk at a time, whisking until it is completely melted. Pour the custard into a large
bowl. Whisk in the sour cream and vanilla. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Make the crust:
3. Preaheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter. Press the mixture into the bottom of a 9-inch cake pan. Bake the crust for about 8 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool completely.
4. Use a butter knife to break the crust up into irregular chunks (1 inch or smaller).

Process the ice cream:
5. Process the ice cream base in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. Pack the ice cream into an airtight container and freeze for a least 4 hours, until firm.

Make the sauce:
6. Process the strawberries, sugar and lemon juice in a food processor until pureed. Strain through a fine sieve to remove the seeds.

To serve:
7. Spoon some graham cracker crust chunks in the bottom of a glass or bowl. Scoop some ice cream on top and serve the sauce in a small pitcher alongside.