This isn't a hard one to make, but it does take a lot of steps. Mix caramel, reduced balsamic vinegar, strawberry puree, and vanilla ice cream and bing bang boom you have a truly great result. Mrs. Fellow's one spoonful turned into a bowl's worth. It perfectly balances the flavors of every component. You can taste each flavor and yet they combine to create something entirely new.
Vanilla Ice Cream with Strawberry-Balsamic-Caramel
Balsamic Vinegar Reduction
Don't bother with white or expensive balsamic vinegars. This is a frozen dessert, the taste will be masked by your tongue. Any supermarket brand will do. I used the one sold at Costco. If you insist putting an expensive balsamic vinegar in the ice cream, go ahead, just skip this step. Real $100+ balsamic vinegars are superior products and do not need the be reduced very much, if at all.
- Put the balsamic in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the reduction is so thick that you can run a spoon over the bottom and leave a temporary trail. When it cools it should be like syrup. If it isn’t, heat it again and keep going. You should have less than half a cup.
- BE SURE TO DO THIS IN A WELL-VENTILATED AREA. Otherwise, your house may smell like vinegar for a while.
1 cup balsamic vinegar
You may need to adjust the sweetness of the berries, but be careful to minimize the amount of sugar you use. Remember that you will be adding caramel to the puree so the sweetness can get overpowering if you aren't careful. If I were pureeing strawberries for other reasons, I would probably add a bit of lemon juice for acid. This is not necessary here because the reduced vinegar will take care of the acid component.
- Put all ingredients in a saucepan. Cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat until boiling. Simmer until berries are soft (about five minutes).
- Put the ingredients of the sauce in a blender and puree. Be careful and hold the lid on tight when blending hot things.
- Pour the contents of the blender through a fine mesh sieve to remove seeds.
2 pints of strawberries, stems and leaves removed
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
To make the Strawberry-Balsamic Caramel:
Two things will jump out at you about this sauce. First, is that it won't be as thick as caramel, even when refrigerated. Don't worry, it works in the final product. Second, the color is dark. Balsamic does that. Don't worry, it makes a dramatic contrast to the vanilla ice cream.
- Mix one cup of the strawberry puree with 3/4 cup of the caramel and 2 tablespoons of the balsamic reduction. You may find this easier to do if the caramel is warm.
- Cool (if necessary), then refrigerate until cold.
Putting it all together:
- After you make the ice cream, place about 1/3 of the finished product in the container. Spread out a layer of the caramel.
- Repeat for the next 2/3 of the ice cream alternating with layers of the caramel.
- Put the full container in the freezer for an hour or so to firm everything.