Fruit purees and syrups add great flavor to ice cream, but the extra water can lead to crystallization, giving the ice cream a gritty texture. Not so with elderberry syrup. For whatever reason, elderberry syrup actually lends elasticity and smoothness to the ice cream, resulting an even creamier mouth feel. Here, finely chopped wild hazelnuts embedded in homemade soft chocolate chips enhance the elderberry ice cream with contrasting flavor and texture.
I use wild common elderberries from the shrub Sambucus canadensis. These can be gathered from the wild or purchased online: Elder Berries Whole Organic – 1 lb,(Frontier) Most online sources of elderberry come from the European elderberry, Sambucus nigra, which are very similar, if not identical, to the North American common elderberry.
Feel free to use any kind of hazelnut, wild or cultivated. You can forage for wild hazelnuts, buy European hazelnuts (also called filberts), or substitute with any other nut of your choice.
The ice cream is best if made with an ice cream maker. I swear by this one: Cuisinart ICE-21 Frozen Yogurt-Ice Cream & Sorbet Maker, White
Makes about 1 quart of ice cream
This is a thick, intensely flavored syrup. If you already know you like the flavor of elderberry juice or jelly, add a full batch of this syrup to the ice cream base. I like an intense elderberry flavor, but if you are new to elderberries, you might want to make a half batch of this syrup for the ice cream.
For best results, resist the temptations to mash the berries vigorously, and to add extra water. Over-zealous mashing can release some of the bitterness of the seeds into the juice. Excess water in the syrup means more water in the ice cream. A watery ice cream is a gritty ice cream. Relax – the recipe works well as written.
- 3 cups elderberries, carefully picked over to remove leaves, stems, and green berries
- 3/4 cups sugar
- 2 tbsp plus 1 tsp water
- Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Gently mash with a potato masher or the back of a spoon, constantly, over medium heat until berries begin to burst and release juice and the mixture begins to simmer.
- Reduce heat and continue to simmer, stirring and mashing frequently, until mixture begins to thicken. It needs to simmer for about 12 minutes to reach the thickness of a syrup. Stop sooner, however, if it begins to leave a sticky coat on the bottom of the pan when the pan is tilted.
- Remove from heat and pass it through a fine mesh strainer, into a clean bowl. You can stir and push the contents of the strainer with the back of the spoon to get as much juice as possible. Discard remaining strainer contents.
- Cool syrup completely in the refrigerator, and keep refrigerated until ready to use.
Yield is about 1/2 to 2/3 cup of thick syrup.
Chocolate hazelnut crunch
You can use raw or toasted nuts, as you like (I use raw). The small amount of vegetable oil reduces the melting point, preventing the chocolate chips from becoming extremely hard when frozen. The result is a pleasant, not jaw-breaking, crunch.
- 1/4 cup finely chopped (not ground) hazelnuts
- 2.5 oz. dark chocolate (or semi-sweet, milk, or white chocolate, as you prefer)
- 1 tsp mild tasting vegetable oil
- Warm the chocolate in microwave on high, stirring every 15-20 seconds, until completely melted (about a minute).
- Add oil and stir until completely blended.
- Stir in nuts.
- Pour onto large plate or small cookie pan lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Spread chocolate mixture into a 5-6 inch diameter circle. Freeze or refrigerate until hard.
- Break into small chunks. Keep refrigerated or frozen until ready to use.
Makes 3/4 – 1 cup of hazelnut chocolate chips.
Ice cream base
- 3 eggs
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 cup of low fat milk
- 3/4 cups sugar
- 3 tbsp tapioca syrup or corn syrup (do not use high fructose corn syrup – it is too sweet for this recipe)
- Pinch of salt
- In a medium bowl, whisk eggs to thoroughly blend yolks and whites, and set aside.
- Add remaining ingredients to 4 qt saucepan, and heat over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until it reaches a simmer. Remove from heat.
- Temper the eggs by slowly drizzling 1 to 1 and 1/2 cups of the hot cream mixture into the eggs, while whisking the eggs constantly and vigorously.
- Carefully pour the hot egg/cream mixture back into the 4 qt pan with the rest of the cream mixture, while whisking the contents of the saucepan. You do not need to drizzle it, but do not dump it in all at once because you might scramble the eggs.
- Return the 4 qt pan, which now contains all of the egg/cream mixture, to medium-low heat. Cook, stirring constantly (preferably with a heat proof spatula), scraping all portions of the inside bottom of the pan, until mixture thickens and achieves a temperature of 170-175 degrees F. (For best results, don’t guess – use a candy thermometer.) It should take about 8-10 minutes to thicken. Mixture should be noticeably thicker than raw cream.
- Remove from heat and immediately pour through a fine mesh strainer into a large heat proof bowl.
- Refrigerate immediately, or pre-cool in a cold water bath for about a half hour. Stir occasionally for the first 30-60 minutes of cooling. Leave refrigerated for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
Combine to make elderberry ice cream with chocolate hazelnut crunch
Stir cold elderberry syrup into fully cooled ice cream base until well blended. Churn in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions. Stir in cold hazelnut chocolate chips as you transfer ice cream to freezer storage container. Freeze until ready to eat.