If you’re an ice cream lover like I’m an ice cream lover, you might just agree that this recipe is life changing. Paradigm shifting. Mind blowing. Hyperbole? I don’t think so. This Blueberry Swirl No-Churn Ice Cream is my first foray into the no-churn ice cream world, and I feel like all my ice cream dreams just came true.
Yes, I own an ice cream maker. It’s somewhere in the utility closet on a high shelf. It’s fun to use, but first I have to freeze the churn overnight, supposing I can find room in the freezer for it (raise your hand if your only freezer is the one in your fridge). I don’t mind cooking a custard on the stove for the base, as for this pumpkin spice ice cream, but it’s something of a project and not one that satisfies my craving in any acceptably speedy way.
And yes, I’m also a fan of “faux” ice cream (I call mine “nice cream”). This vegan treat uses frozen bananas as the base and it’s also quick and easy to whip up. I’ve made several varieties of nice cream, from fruit-based like this blueberry sweet cherry one to chocolate (I still need to write about that!).
But to be able to make a rich, dairy-based ice cream in little time and with little fuss … that’s something I can really get into! I’d heard of no-churn ice creams for years, and you probably have too, but it wasn’t until this week that I decided to jump on that particular bandwagon. I’m glad I did!
Blueberry Swirl No-Churn Ice Cream
You see, berry season is in full force right now in beautiful Southwestern Ontario, and I had a lot of freshly-picked blueberries in my fridge calling out for special treatment. (If you’re reading this in winter, no fear — just use frozen berries!) A vision popped into my head of a creamy ice cream full of swirls of blueberry syrup and even some whole berries.
It takes only a few minutes to make a simple blueberry syrup. Just bring berries and a bit of water to a boil and then simmer until most of the berries have popped and the mixture is nice and syrupy (it will thicken more as it chills). I made mine the evening before, but if you’re not making it ahead of time, just cool it down quickly by setting the pot in some ice water and stirring a couple of times. You want to be sure the syrup is cold when you add it to the ice cream base, or you know what’ll happen … bad melty things.
Making the ice cream base is easy peasy. I followed the method my friend Renee of Sweetsugarbean uses in her no-churn recipe in her ahh-mazing book All the Sweet Things. (Do you have it yet? If not, go get it as soon as you’re done here! You’ll thank me. Really.) In other words, whipping cream, adding condensed milk and whipping some more. Then I swirled the cream and blueberry syrup together in a loaf pan using the handle of a tablespoon. And then into the freezer it goes. All done except the dishes, and there aren’t many of those! The ice cream will be ready in four to six hours … even I can wait that long.
I Scream, You Scream …
The result? A rich ice cream with loads of blueberry flavour and even some whole berries. It’s a feast for the eyes, with that brilliant reddish-purple (like violet and magenta got together and created a new colour), pale mauve, and darkest purplish blue. And flowing swirls against a creamy backdrop. It’s like art in a bowl. Who needs unicorns when you can have this?
Self restraint flew out the window when it came to choosing photos for this post. I’m beyond happy with how they turned out, and could look at them all day long (while eating ice cream).
I can’t wait to experiment with more flavours. But I also can’t wait to eat some more of this Blueberry Swirl No-Churn Ice Cream dream.
Blueberry Swirl No-Churn Ice Cream
© Marlene Cornelis, Urban Cottage Life.com 2017
No-churn ice cream uses condensed milk instead of the traditional cooked custard, which is why it’s so much easier and quicker. Yes, there’s a lot of blueberry in this recipe; you could use less if you prefer. And if you don’t want whole berries in your ice cream, strain the syrup through a sieve before cooling. You’ll notice I didn’t sweeten the syrup. The ice cream itself is plenty sweet from the condensed milk, and I wanted the contrast of that blueberry tartness, bearing in mind that it’s mellower once the berries are cooked.
Prepare a 9 X 5-inch loaf pan by lining it with plastic wrap or parchment paper, enough to fold over once the tin is filled. (If I were to use a glass pan, I wouldn’t feel the need to line it unless I wanted to lift out the ice cream to slice it.)
- 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
- a splash of water (about 2 tbsp)
- 2 cups whipping cream (35% milk fat)
- 1 can (300 ml) sweetened condensed milk
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract (vanilla bean paste would be good too)
Prepare the syrup by bringing the berries and water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium high heat. Turn the heat to a simmer and cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until the berries have mostly popped and released their vibrant juices. If using right away, place the pan in ice water and stir a couple of times to quickly chill the syrup. (It’s crucial that the syrup be cold before you add it to the ice cream!)
Now it’s time to get beating! Using a stand or handheld mixer, whip the cream until it’s soft. Drizzle the condensed milk and vanilla over the cream, and continue beating at high speed until the cream is stiffer. I wouldn’t say mine reached stiff peaks, but it was definitely much heavier than the soft peaks stage. [Note: I read on BBC Good Food that you can combine the cream, condensed milk and vanilla and then whip it all together. I’m going to try that next time as it sounds even easier and quicker.]
Working lightly to avoid deflating the cream, spread about half the ice cream in the loaf pan. Dollop half the blueberry syrup over it, and then use the a tablespoon handle to swirl it together. Repeat. How much you swirl is up to you, but it’s pleasing to have the contrast of the blueberry against the cream.
Cover with the overhanging wrap and freeze until firm. Get the ice cream out of the freezer about 10 minutes before you’re ready to scoop it. I found the blueberry ribbons and puddles in it were harder than the ice cream itself, making it a little difficult to make perfect scoops, but I can live with that!