August 21, 2012

Recipe: Fig & Balsamic Vinegar Ice Cream

At the end of last week we explained our endless supply of figs from our neighbor's tree producing in the height of the season. As not to waste them, we've been having fun incorporating them into as many recipes as we can think of — one of which is ice cream!

Those of you that follow along know we love making ice cream the old fashioned way, using a vintage hand crank ice cream maker. We've shared our go-to creamy vanilla ice cream base recipe a couple times (here and here) which allows us to experiment with incorporating fresh ingredients and flavors on a whim — which is exactly what we did with the figs.

I thought it could be fun to really experiment with two flavors we've enjoyed outside of the dessert frame of mind — figs & balsamic vinegar — to see what might happen. Spoiler Alert: it's amazing, you can keep reading!

We've enjoyed the flavors of figs & balsamic vinegar in more savory dishes like these blue cheese prosciutto wrapped figs, but thought it could be an interesting twist to try to make an ice cream from these same flavors.

Ice Cream Base Ingredients:
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 pod vanilla bean, beans reserved
This ice cream base is what we use for every recipe — it's easy to make with simple ingredients and you can simply combine any additional flavors you want into it (like we did with our peach and blackberry versions). This go round, we used 4 whole figs, and 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar (one extra fig and a few additional dribbles of balsamic vinegar for garnish).

Combine cream, milk, sugar and vanilla beans in bowl. Roughly chop up 4 whole figs and pulse 3/4ths of the chopped figs in a blender or food processor. Add pureed fig mixture into cream base along with remaining 1/4th chopped figs*. Add 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar and stir to combine mixture well.

*Pureeing the figs will ensure the body of the ice cream really takes on the fig flavor — adding a few roughly chopped figs will provide those frozen bits of fresh fruit with each bite.  

Pour your ice cream mixture into the barrel of your ice cream maker and get everything set up to get cranking (why are my hands always in the cranking photos?)! Find full instructions for using a hand crank ice cream maker in this post.

Now just keep cranking! If you have company or kids around, this is a "fun project" you could delegate to them in 5 minute increments (we did not so I cranked). It takes about 15 - 20 minutes of continuous cranking for our ice cream maker to produce the following creamy texture:

Once you've cranked to a creamy thick consistency like above, it's time to either serve it up straight away or transfer to a freezer-safe container to set up a bit further. We like to let ours set up in the freezer a little longer after cranking to take it to that next level of frozen texture.

At this point, it's best to do some "quality control" tasting, just to make sure everything's as you planned of course...

Once hardened and set in the freezer to your desired consistency (we like at least 4 hours), scoop into bowls and garnish with a thin slice of fig, thin ribbons of fresh basil, and a small dribble of balsamic vinegar:

You could always forgo the garnish and just scoop straight from the container like I've caught Mary doing a couple times while this batch of ice cream lasted — I swear I am putting an alarm on that freezer door!

Would you try an ice cream with a flavor combination like this? Or maybe you have ideas for even more flavor combinations we should try for either ice cream, figs or both?



  1. Oh, wow. Looks like we are on the same page with figs! I have a post going up tomorrow about a main dish using some of these elements. Tried it over the weekend on a whim, and immediately thought of changing it up with ice cream to make a dessert, it was so rich. Either way, delicious!
    I love reading about your kitchen experiments. Your joy in life and enjoying the little things really shines through!

    1. Thanks so much Bekah — we are having fun with it all!

  2. I recently had icecream at Jeni's in Columbus, OH and I risked it and had 'Goats Cheese with Red Cherries' - it was absolutely incredible. I reckon fig and goats cheese could be just as nice...

    1. Willow — goat cheese would be an amazing addition, certainly would richen up things. We might just have to give it a try.


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