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Cranberry ice cream.... any ideas?

I posed this idea for my part of a friend's Thanksgiving dinner... would it be enough to mix in a simple cranberry sauce (boil berries, sugar, water and lemon juice/zest and strain out the solid parts when cooked) with a simple vanilla custard base (with sugar reduced to account for the sweetness in the cranberry sauce)?

Thanks, 'hounds (and Carb Lover, who I know will come to my ice cream aid as she always does :)

Mr Taster

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  1. I am thinking that you could make a very syrupy reduction of cran sauce, prepare your ice cream as usual and then when it is almost finished mixing swirl in the cran sauce. you could even try making an orange zest and vanilla custard base since cran and orange compliment each other so well.

    1. agree with above poster. Don't change the sugar level in the custard base you make, unless your cranberry sauce is cloyingly sweet, which I doubt. Cranberries are so tart, it rarely is overly sweet. Also, since cranberry sauce thickens immensely, make a runnier than usual sauce. The orange zest is a good idea.

      Another thought is just making cranberry swirl. Then you really add it at the end. Like the last few churns, so it streaks throughout.

      2 Replies
      1. re: adamclyde

        I'm inclined to disagree about the sugar level. Yes, cranberries are tart, but sugar still lowers the freezing level. Of course there is some wiggle room, but I wouldn't add more than 10 or 20% more sugar than called for. Or, if the cranberry sauce has the same proportion of sugar as a typical ice cream base, adding it should be fine, I would just be concerned about adding a sauce (puree) with a very high concentration of sugar - whole berries would be OK because they'll remain discrete.

        1. re: adamclyde

          Actually my first attempt at making cranberry sauce (per the instructions on the back of the bag of fresh berries I got at Trader Joe's) was way too sweet, so I actually added the juice from 1/2 a medium sized lemon to it in order to sour it up a bit. The result was lemony and delicious, perfectly balanced sour and sweet.

          Mr Taste4r

        2. The swirl idea sounds nice and festive, and I agree about orange zest instead of lemon zest. You might also consider using some (or all) brown sugar in your cranberry sauce for a deeper flavor and to contrast w/ the sugar in the custard. Agree that you shouldn't reduce the sugar in your vanilla ice cream since cranberries are very tart (just don't make the sauce too sweet).

          Another route to go if you and your guests are cranberry lovers and want it to take center stage is to make it similar to how I made black grape gelato:

          It's like a sorbet mellowed out by a little cream. In this case, I'd cook down the cranberries in a little water til they burst. Puree the mixture in your vessel of choice. Strain out the skin. Make a simple syrup and then add to fruit puree til you get desired sweetness. Add pinch salt. Froth up some heavy cream and stir in. No eggs necessary. Chill and churn.

          This will give you an intense cranberry flavor and be very smooth and creamy but lighter than custard base. Nice w/ a drizzle of chocolate on top...

          Have fun and let us know how it goes!

          1. A tart cranberry sorbet (non-dairy) sounds like an amazing palate cleasner between courses, or maybe a sweeter version as a light dessert option with some candied kumquat slices and floretines. In fact, if I didn't already have more dessert options than I currently have guests, I might consider adding this one on.

            4 Replies
            1. re: rockycat

              I made a great (and easy) fresh cranberry sorbet last week that would be a wonderful palate cleanser. The addition of wine really made it both beautiful and complex.


              1. re: rockycat

                I just last night made cranberry orange and thyme sorbet!

                1. re: grubn

                  Sounds great. Could you please give the craberry sorbet w.thyme recipe? And do you think children would like it?

                  1. re: gmhopkins

                    Here's the recipe:

                    12 oz fresh cranberries
                    1 cup sugar
                    1 1/2 cups water
                    zest of 2 oranges
                    12 springs fresh thyme
                    1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice

                    Wash the cranberries and pick over them.
                    Bring the cranberries, sugar, water and orange zest to a boil. Cook for about 5 minutes or so until most of the cranberries pop.
                    Mix in the thyme sprigs, remove from heat, cover and steep for at least 30 minutes. Push the mixure through a fine seive or squeeze through several layers of cheesecloth, extracting as much of the liquid and pulp as possible; leaving just the seeds and the thyme behind.
                    Refrigerate until cold (preferably overnight). Stir in orange juice then freeze in your ice cream/sorbet maker. Makes 1 quart.

                    All the adults loved this. We made pizzelle cones to go with it. Also would be great as a mid meal palate cleanser. The kids were highly attracted to the color - it is a very luscious pink - but thought it was too tart upon tasting. If you are going to serve it as a dessert and want kids to enjoy it too, I would recommend increasing the sugar.

              2. cranberries are very yummy with white choc and pistachios. a topping of pistachios would be nice and maybe a white choc. base for your ice cream. keep the orange zest in there as it wouild add lots of great flav.
                caramel just seems to be on my mind too...or more specifically a brittle of some sort, maybe with pistachios, coated in white choc. broken up and added as a garnish.

                1. Well here was my first attempt. I wanted to drizzle a ribbon of sour cranberry through sweet vanilla ice cream.

                  I made Martha Stewart's basic vanilla ice cream (nothing groundbreaking, just a solid, basic vanilla made with milk, sugar, cream, vanilla beans, vanilla extract and egg yolks).

                  I then tried making a drizzle-able cranberry sauce by modifying the recipe on the bag, which called for 1 cup sugar and water to one bag of berries. Now I made this recipe before-- as listed, the recipe creates a chunky, thick, jam-like consistency which obviously would not work as an ice cream drizzle.

                  (My goal was to make a thin sauce to ribbon into the vanilla. I also wanted a sour contrast to the sweet vanilla.)

                  I modified the recipe as follows: one bag cranberries, 2 cups water, 1/3 cup brown sugar, juice of 1/2 medium lemon (I was afraid orange juice would add too much sweetness), zest from one orange. I then strained it to get a smooth sauce and chilled it in the freezer until it was cold (not frozen). The result was a silky textured, lemony sour sauce (prob too much lemon) with a deep, rich consistency. Too sour for eating straight, but perhaps a good contrast to the sweet ice cream.

                  I poured a test amount of the ice cream mix into the machine and ran it for about 5 minutes. When it was the consistency of soft serve, I started to drizzle in the raspberry sauce-- but here's the problem. If you pour it in slowly as a drizzle, by the time you're done pouring it begins to integrate throughout the ice cream, turning it pink. That's not a ribbon. If you pour it too fast, you get clumps.

                  Is there a certain technique to gauge how fast to drizzle in the sauce? I'm kind of baffled. I think I would have had better results if I had simply emptied the ice cream into a bowl and folded in the cranberry sauce with a spatula.

                  In the end, I wound up with a uniformly pink ice cream (albeit with a few pale streaks of white and red) which tasted neither like cranberried nor lemons, but sort of like strawberries. Pretty odd.

                  As a last gesture of futility I just poured my cranberry sauce directly into my ice cream maker and came out with an intensely sour sorbet. Weird.

                  Any opinions on how to properly ribbon this in?


                  Mr Taster

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Mr Taster

                    Glad you made a first attempt. I'm no ribboning expert since I don't really go for chunks or swirls in my concoctions.

                    My instinct though is that you need a fairly thick/chunky sauce that doesn't incorporate too quickly, although this may not result in a distinct "swirl". You may also need to churn the vanilla base a bit longer so that your ice cream firms up a touch more. Seems like your goal would be to get the base to be a different consistency and temp. than the sauce which should minimize complete merging of the two.

                    Also keep in mind that a full batch may have reacted differently than a small test batch. Good luck! Will be curious to hear what others have to say...

                    1. re: Mr Taster

                      I actually think your best bet might be to make the ice cream to the stage you normally do (it's still pretty soft at this point), put it in your freezer storage container, then hand drizzle/swirl it in until it's about as evenly distributed as you want it, then freeze it hard.

                      1. re: Jeda

                        I agree that you should fully churn your ice cream, then put the swirl in by hand before freezing.

                        I would also throw some dried cranberries in the ice cream as well, but that's just me.

                    2. I think that carblover is right about letting the icecream become firmer. I would try to make the cranberry swirl stuff a very thick cosistency almost like a very well cooked caramel. and then super chill it to make it even thicker.
                      Maybe making the icecream base then putting in the bowl of a mixer that is chilled and using the paddle attachment (also chilled) to stir in the chilled cran. stuff would work. The key would be to keep everything very cold.