Monday, May 16, 2011

Roasted Rhubarb Vanilla Ice Cream

I came home from the farmers' market on Saturday with a beautiful bunch of fresh red rhubarb stalks and no strawberries. It's still so early in the strawberry season, and they were selling at the market this week for eight dollars a pint, so I resisted. In hindsight, that decision ended up being a hidden gift, because it forced me to move beyond strawberry-rhubarb pies, galettes, and crumbles to come up with a more creative recipe using rhubarb.

Roasted rhubarb puree
A quick phone call home to chat with my dad yielded this recipe for Savory Rhubarb Lentil Dal from Mark Bittman. Interesting idea, but the idea of the first rhubarb of the season just disintegrating into a dish just seemed disappointing. I wanted this rhubarb to pop!

That's when I stumbled across this delightful blog by Tom from Tall Clover Farm, where he posts about the fruit he grows and the pies he makes. He'll also give you advice about how to set up your own compost bin and he'll tell you where to find the cute new raincoats his dogs are sporting.

Most importantly, he taught me how to make my first cooked custard ice cream. I've been eyeing cooked custard ice cream recipes since I got The Perfect Scoop: Ice Creams, Sorbets, Granitas, and Sweet  and Accompaniments and an ice cream maker for my birthday from my New Jersey relatives! I've made several of his Philadelphia ice cream recipes, which are uncooked, to great success, but I haven't attempted his multi-step custards.

Tom's recipe made it seem so easy, and it was! His step-by-step directions and gorgeous pictures drew me right in. What could be better than a vanilla custard ice cream with roasted rhubarb puree mixed in?

To determine whether the custard is fully cooked, run your finger down the spatula. If your finger leaves a path that is not quickly filled in by custard, it's ready!
This ice cream is full of flavor and so tasty. It was hard to balance scooping it into freezer containers and tasting! Now to figure out what to serve it with..... a post on that to come later!

Roasted Rhubarb Vanilla Ice Cream
adapted slightly from Tall Clover Farm

Tom's recipe called for a vanilla bean. The Park Slope Food Coop has ridiculously inexpensive vanilla beans (about 20 cents each). I used a tablespoon of a vanilla paste, but you could substitute a tablespoon of vanilla extract if you didn't have any of those. You'll need an ice cream maker to make the full version of the recipe, but you could also just eat the custard. It's delicious.

1 lb. rhubarb
3 cups half & half
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean
4 eggs

Roast rhubarb: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Clean the rhubarb by slicing off the ends. Chop the rhubarb into 4 inch pieces, and slice each piece in half lengthwise. Dust the rhubarb on both sides with granulated sugar, and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cook for 15 minutes. Remove the rhubarb, and let cool. If you overcook the rhubarb, the sugar will burn! Chop the rhubarb into a red mush, and set aside.

Make the custard: Add the half & half to the top of a double boiler over low heat. Split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds out. Add the bean and the seeds to the half & half. Stir the mixture often. Heat until bubbles form on the sides of the pan. Remove the mixture from the heat, and let it cool for about 10 minutes.

In a separate bowl, combine 3 egg yolks and 1 whole egg. Add 3/4 cup sugar and whisk together until creamy.

(After 10 minutes of cooling) Add 1/2 cup of the warm half & half mixture to the egg mixture, whisking constantly. If you do not stir constantly, you may be left with sweetened bits of scrambled eggs! Add the remainder of the half & half 1/2 cup at a time, whisking constantly.

Return the mixture to the double boiler and heat it over low heat. Continue stirring the mixture constantly. Heat the mixture slowly until it thickens and the mixture coats the spatula.

David Lebowitz says, "You'll know your custard's done when it begins to steam and you feel it just beginning to cook as you scrape the spatula across the bottom of the pan. You can test it by running your finger across the spatula coated with custard: It's done when your finger leaves a definite trail that doesn't flow back together."

Remove the custard from the heat and stir in the rhubarb puree.

Allow the mixture to cool on the counter, stirring regularly. Refrigerate the mixture until completely cool. Leave the lid slightly off the container as it cools in the fridge.

Prepare the custard accordingly, based on your ice cream maker. Sample regularly as it's being churned! Eat the ice cream immediately, or place it in a covered container in the freezer until it's ready to be served.


  1. I love ice cream and rhubarb. This sounds tasty. I might have to try an ice cream topping with the rhubarb from my garden.

  2. Ooh, might have to pursue this while rhubarb is fresh and plentiful. Looks great.

  3. The rhubarb here is just getting better and better. It was red and gorgeous this week!