Spruce Tip Ice Cream
Once in a while a miracle happens in the kitchen. It seems to happen when expectations are low, when you're collaborating with friends, when you're going off a hunch, and when you’re making, well, a mess. It sounds more like a recipe for disaster, but for me at least this is when the magic happens.
This is how this spruce tip ice cream recipe came to be. Going off a hunch that spruce tips would go especially well in ice cream, my friend Keely and me set to work with her ice cream maker once warm day in July. Keely has a chemistry background, which comes in handy in the kitchen. To use her words, the apple sauce in this recipe is an excellent neutral substrate to promote pureeing of the spruce tips. Blanching takes the tannic edge off the spruce tips and releases incredible aromas, as well as softening them for blending. You’ll notice this also makes them lose their incredibly vibrant colour, but don’t worry, the end result is a lovely green ice cream reminiscent of pistachios. Here’s a tip: set aside the liquid from the blanching, strain, and enjoy as a lovely tea.
If you're in need of fresh spruce tips, see this post about foraging for them. They're in season in Newfoundland from mid-June to mid-July (just in time for ice cream season).
(Makes approx. 500 g ice cream, or enough to fill one medium-large Tupperware container)
Spruce tip puree (makes ½ cup + 1 tbsp)
½ cup (50 g) spruce tips
¼ cup (65 g) unsweetened applesauce
1 tbsp sunflower oil
Ice cream mix
1 cup (125 g) heavy cream
1 cup (125 g) milk
½ cup (110 g) superfine sugar
6 egg yolks
fine sea salt
It all starts with freezing the ice cream maker attachment of your mixer. So stick it in the freezer for at least 24 hours prior to using.
For the puree, blanche the spruce tips in 2 cups of boiling water for 10 seconds and drain, reserving the liquid. Place the blanched spruce tips, applesauce, oil, 1 tbsp of the reserved spruce water, and ¼ tsp of fine sea salt into a food processor or blender. Blend for 5 minutes or until smooth.
Place a medium saucepan on low heat and add the cream, half-and-half, sugar, egg yolks, and ⅛ tsp of fine sea salt. Heat, whisking all the while, until just before you reach a boil, about 10 minutes. Add the spruce tip puree and whisk well. Take off the heat and set aside to cool completely.
When the ice cream mix has cooled, strain it through a fine mesh strainer. Pour the strained mix into the bowl of your frozen ice cream maker mixer attachment and process for 15-20 minutes. At this stage it will have the texture of soft serve ice cream. Transfer this mixture into a large plastic container and freeze overnight.
Serve this ice cream with toasted almonds and mint leaves, or simply with a few chopped spruce tip needles.