This blackberry swirl ice cream is a combination of my adoration of fresh, seasonal fruit, sweet, creamy desserts, and two little girls who are obsessed with all things purple. And ice cream. I mean, of course, ice cream.
I have beautiful memories of making homemade vanilla ice cream each summer at my grandparents’ home in Idaho when we would go visit them. My grandma would mix the ice cream base and pour it into the tall metal canister that my grandpa would carry out to the back porch and pack in ice and rock salt. Then he would churn it by hand in an old, saltwater stained ice cream maker. I loved helping with the churning and sitting there on the warm concrete steps on a hot summer evening talking with my grandparents while we accomplished the other tasks of preparing a summer meal like shelling peas or shucking the corn from their garden. It’s one of those memories that I look back on now and see as part of the real magic of my childhood and something I want to share with my girls. Although I have to say that it is SO much easier and nicer to be able to freeze ice cream using my KitchenAid ice cream mixer attachment that I just keep stored in my freezer so that it is ready whenever I want to mix up a batch for a special treat.
Maybe I will see if I can get my hands on that old-fashioned hand churn, just to give my girls the chance to make ice cream the way I grew up making it. But in the meantime, they definitely loved helping make this blackberry swirl ice cream by first picking the blackberries from a local fruit orchard that had bushes that were completely loaded in the dark, luscious berries.
I actually tried making blackberry ice cream a few different ways, including a completely purple version where the blackberry puree was stirred into the ice cream base like strawberry ice cream. But it wasn’t until I tried layering the most perfect homemade vanilla custard base with a fresh blackberry puree to create a swirled ice cream that I knew I had found the ice cream of my dreams. Every bite has ribbons of sweet purple blackberry puree in it and the ice cream base has the creamiest, most wonderful mouthfeel. And yes, that’s a real word and totally not something I made up. It means “the tactile sensation a food gives to the mouth.” I have tried too many homemade ice cream recipes that are either too gritty or end up leaving a yucky coating in your mouth, but this one has none of those problems. It is sweet, but not too sweet, and it freezes without getting all icy. And every scoop is gorgeous, with those vivid purple swirls tucked into dreamy white clouds of vanilla.
Also, you should know that this ice cream takes a warm piece of already scrumptious blackberry nectarine cobbler to a whole other level of goosebump inducing deliciousness. Just saying.
- 6 ounces blackberries fresh or frozen
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream divided
- 3/4 cup sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 4 egg yolks
Combine blackberries and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring and mashing the berries while cooking to help them release their juices. Once the berries have broken down, add the cornstarch, stirring well to combine and so that no chunks remain, and remove from heat. Strain mixture through a mesh strainer into a clean bowl, pressing the berries against the sides of the strainer to get as much juice out as possible. Discard the solid blackberry seeds that remain. Cover the blackberry puree and chill in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours.
Combine the whole milk, 1/2 cup of the heavy cream, sugar, salt and vanilla in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture begins steaming and bubbling around the edges. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks in a separate bowl and set aside. When milk mixture is steaming and bubbling around the edges, remove 1 cup of it and slowly drizzle the hot milk mixture into the beaten yolks while whisking continuously, to temper the eggs. Make sure not to scramble the eggs by adding all the hot liquid too fast. Add remaining milk mixture and stir to combine into a thin custard. Pour the custard mixture back into the saucepan and continue cooking until it starts to coats the back of a wooden spoon (between 170 and 175 on a candy thermometer) - typically only 1-2 minutes.
Pour the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream into a medium bowl, then add the warm custard by first pouring through a clean mesh strainer into remaining heavy cream and stirring to combine. Cover and cool completely in the refrigerator (4-6 hours or overnight) before churning.
Once the custard base is thoroughly chilled, pour into an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. My ice cream maker only takes about 20 minutes to reach a soft serve stage. Remove the churn paddle and, using a freezer safe container, layer a few scoops of ice cream with drizzles of the cold blackberry puree (there's no right or wrong way to do this, but I would recommend not stirring the puree in or your white vanilla base will turn purple!), and repeat until all the ice cream base and puree are combined. Cover and place in a freezer to cure for at least 4-6 hours so the ice cream can harden all the way through.
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