Thursday, May 29, 2008

Strawberry-Rhubarb Ice Cream

The idea of Strawberry-Rhubarb Ice Cream occured to me this spring while I was pondering the various uses for rhubarb. For pies, I like just rhubarb - no strawberries. Perhaps it's because rhubarb is less available much of the year, so it's a rare treat. Perhaps it's because I'm a purist who loves the taste of rhubarb. But strawberries and rhubarb are a wonderful match and if the strawberries are a little short on flavor, the rhubarb seems to give them a boost.

The thought of cream cheese, with its slightly tangy flavor and buttery texture playing off strawberries and rhubarb just seemed perfect. One night a few years ago, I experimented with cream cheese ice cream and it worked! I wasn't sure it would freeze properly but it was fantastic. I had some frozen bluberries and threw them in the mixture and Wow - I was on to something!

This ice cream is very easy to make but you do have to cook and chill the rhubarb in advance. Since many ice cream machines require that you store the canister in the freezer for at least 8 hours, you can do that at the same time. The recipe calls for fresh strawberries, but you can certainly use frozen.


1/2 pound rhubarb, sliced into 1" pieces (fresh or frozen)
2-1/4 cups superfine sugar, divided
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2-1/2 cups half-and-half
1 cup whole milk
1 pint fresh strawberries, washed, hulled and mashed*
Pinch non-iodized salt

Put the rhubarb in a medium saucepan with 1-1/4 cups of the sugar and pour in just enough water to cover the rhubarb a little more than halfway. Bring to a boil and simmer over low heat until the fruit is tender, about 5 minutes. Stir to break up the chunks and cool to room temperature. Chill in a covered bowl in the refrigerator until very cold.

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the half-and-half and milk and beat until smooth. Measure out 1-1/2 cups of the chilled rhubarb and add it to the milk-cream cheese mixture along with the strawberries and the salt and stir well. Chill the mixture until very cold - at least 2 hours. Pour into an ice cream machine and process according to the manufacturers instructions. Makes a generous quart (you may not be able to get all of the mixture into the canister). Store in a covered container in the freezer no more than 3 days.

Note: You can puree the rhubarb mixture in a food processor before combining it with the other ingredients. This is especially desirable if the rhubarb is stringy. I prefer the texture slightly chunky, however. Leftover rhubarb can be served over the ice cream, spooned into yogurt, or eaten as is. It's also good with roast or grilled pork. Coarsely mash the strawberries with a potato masher, pastry cutter, or fork and include their juice.