You know that feeling you get after you’ve had your heart broken and then you meet someone new, and suddenly it feels like every cell in your body is waking up?
Something about this ice cream reminds me of that.
Maybe it’s the juxtaposition of the rich, lemony cheesecake flavor (which I will forever associate with post-breakup rituals, thanks to “The Golden Girls”) against all of those ripe, sweet, promising berries. But then there’s also the addictive crunch of the graham cracker crumble. And that dreamy ribbon of strawberry sauce.
This is ice cream worth shaving your legs for. And you don’t even need a candy thermometer.
You make the cheesecake ice cream base by combining the lemon zest, cream cheese, sour cream, half-and-half, sugar and a pinch of salt in your food processor or blender and blending it until it’s smooth. That’s it. Like making a cream cheese smoothie. And then, after that three minutes of effort, you tuck it away in the refrigerator for at least four hours. (I highly recommend getting this part of the process out of the way the night before you want to eat the ice cream.)
Next, you gather the ice cream’s mix-ins. You bake and break a graham cracker crust, make the strawberry sauce by melting your favorite strawberry jelly in the microwave, and spread out your frozen berries on a plate. (It’s easier to distribute the berries evenly in the ice cream when you can pick them up a few at a time and place them where you want them. Folding them in would break the berries and discolor the ice cream.)
After you pour the cheesecake ice cream base into your ice cream maker, you wait until the last few minutes of churning and add a small handful of graham cracker crumble, so that the crunch is distributed throughout the ice cream. Then, as you transfer the ice cream to a freezer-safe container, you quickly layer the ice cream with frozen berries, a few spoonfuls of melted jelly and a dusting of extra graham cracker crumble.
When you put the ice cream into the freezer, it won’t look like much. But as you pull the scoop across the ice cream and see it start to roll onto itself in a glorious orgy of cream cheese, berries, graham cracker crumbs and strawberry sauce, you’ll be glad you shaved your legs.
Mixed Berry Cheesecake Ice Cream
Makes about 3 cups
Graham Cracker Crumble:
- 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 5 crackers)
- 1/2 tablespoon sugar
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 8 ounces cream cheese
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup half-and-half
- 2/3 cup sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup red jelly (strawberry, raspberry or currant), warmed in the microwave until melted
- 1/2 cup frozen berries
- For the Ice Cream: Place the lemon zest in a food processor or blender.
- Cut the cream cheese into small pieces, and add it to the lemon zest. Then add the sour cream, half-and-half, sugar and salt. Blend until smooth.
- Transfer the mixture to a bowl, cover it, and chill it in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.
- For the Graham Cracker Crumble: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter until moistened. Transfer to a 9-inch springform pan, pie plate or cake pan. Press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan. (Don’t worry if they don’t cover the entire bottom of the pan.) Bake for 7 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Using a fork, gently break the crust into small crumbs. Set aside.
- Once the ice cream mixture has chilled for at least 4 hours, freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. During the last few minutes of churning, add about 1/4 cup of Graham Cracker Crumble.
- As you transfer the ice cream from the machine to a freezer-safe container, place half of the ice cream into the container. Sprinkle half of the frozen berries onto the ice cream, followed by a few spoonfuls of melted jelly to create a thin layer over the ice cream. (Do not stir.) Then spoon the rest of the ice cream over the jelly. Sprinkle the remaining berries on the top and a few spoonfuls of Graham Cracker Crumble. Place a layer of plastic wrap over the ice cream, fasten a lid on the container, and place the container in the freezer for at least 4 hours before serving.
- To serve, top the ice cream with any remaining Graham Cracker Crumble. Or, make a topping for the ice cream by warming the leftover jelly in the microwave and tossing your remaining berries in the jelly until well mixed.