comments 73

Backwoods Blueberry Buttermilk Sherbet

The final product!
Have you ever made a claim and promptly regretted its utterance? I often jinx myself with these kinds of pronouncements, also known as “famous last words.” Usually, when I begin a sentence with “I won’t” followed by “get lost,” “be late,” “cut myself,” “fall off this box,” “regret this tattoo,” or “take an unreasonable amount of time to finish graduate school,” I basically ensure that I will.

If you google the phrase “famous last words,” you’ll find the following Urban Dictionary explanation: to say “famous last words” out loud is to invoke “a warning that following the course of action just mentioned will result in impending doom.”

But this is not a story about doom. No, wait. I take that back. It is a story about doom! It is also a story about setbacks, humility, learning, redemption, and WINNING TWO FREAKIN’ ICE CREAM MAKERS BECAUSE I’M FREAKIN’ AWESOME YA’LL!

I offer you Daisy’s long overdue Brooklyn Ice Cream Takedown Diary:

Thursday, June 27: I return to NYC after visiting my parents for 10 days and spend the next 4 days drinking heavily decompressing.

Monday, July 1: I finally get around to buying an ice cream maker for the Brooklyn Ice Cream Takedown on July 7th. Having the choice between a $59.99 machine, an $89.99 machine, and a $400 machine, I go for the least expensive model. “Frozen Treats in 20 Minutes or Less!” is prominently advertised on the box.  Feeling buoyant and unstressed, I am unconcerned by having never used an ice cream maker before (prior to this experience, I had only made ice cream the old school way by dumping the ice cream mixture into a metal pan, putting the metal pan in the freezer, and stirring it every 30-45 minutes to break up the ice crystals). I am certain that the ice cream maker will make this Takedown a cinch. I leave it unopened on the floor of my apartment.

Tuesday, July 2: I confidently “chat” with Eryn at Ugly Food Tastes Better. She is in the competition too and is fretting about her freezer on the fritz. I mention that I am excited for the Takedown, especially given that the ice cream only takes 20 minutes to churn. I stretch and envision this being a walk in the park, a mere breeze after the HOURS spent baking 250 cookies for the Cookie Takedown or wrapping 250 little bacon candies until my fingers were aching and sore. True, I have to make two gallons of ice cream and the machine only churns 1.5 quarts at a time, but at 20 minutes a batch, I am confident I can knock out all 8 quarts on Saturday afternoon, the day before the competition.

In comparison, this will be so much easier, I say. Then I add the cursed phrase: “Famous last words, right?”

“Hahaha yeah!” Eryn laughs. Then she drops the bomb that shatters my smug peace and calm: “This one is time consuming because you have to refreeze the bowl 24 hours between batches.”

Omg. WHAAAAAAAAAAAAATTTTTTTTT????????????

I open up ice cream maker and swear that the i’s in “Cuisinart” are middle fingers.

The ice cream maker now sits in pieces on floor. There is the machine element, the freezer bowl, and the plastic dome that covers it all. I only have this one freezer bowl and it is not frozen. I also have a freezer so full of meat that I cannot even fit that one bowl in it. I officially freak out. I am in full panic mode.

At 4:30 am, I cave and order two more freezer bowls from Amazon. Overnight delivery. I pray that Amazon’s overnight delivery is really overnight delivery. When my neighbor across the hall wakes up later in the morning, I transfer the entire contents of my freezer to her freezer, shove the insulated bowl in it and wait.

Wednesday, July 3: The extra freezer bowls arrive in the morning and after a whole day in the freezer, only one of the three seems to be frozen. I hear no sloshing when I pick it up and shake it. I attempt my first test batch around midnight, figuring that I can only do two, maybe three tests before having to pick a final recipe. Sadly, there is no time for tinkering, no time for research, no more time for consulting fellow bloggers and friends.

I decide on a custard based ice cream and my inaugural flavor will be Peach Bourbon Jalapeño.

After much stirring, scorching, sieving, and saving, I come to the horrible realization that custard takes FOREVER to make! Worse, when I finally pour the ice cream mixture into the machine and turn it on, it churns for 20 minutes and produces no ice cream, only soup. It is not even the consistency of a smoothie.

Worst of all? The taste. My Peach Bourbon Jalapeño ice cream tastes like peanut butter-covered pepper jack cheese.

There is no peanut butter or pepper jack cheese in the recipe.

I start crying.

Thursday, July 4: I decide to start fresh in the morning with a different custard base. Test batch #2 is to be a fresh strawberry, balsamic vinegar, and black pepper ice cream. The custard tastes good. I pour it into the machine and turn it on. It churns for 20 minutes. I have soup. Again.

At least it’s delicious soup :-(

Three hours before needing to leave to meet up with Tomoko for fireworks on her rooftop, I decide it’s triage time. I don’t have any time left to set up two gallons worth of custard base. I basically don’t have time for anything cooked. My downstairs neighbor Niki lends me a copy of Martha Stewart Living with a special section on ice cream — the last resort. I thumb despondently through it and my eyes fall on a recipe for Blueberry Buttermilk Sherbet that requires no cooking. The buttermilk catches my attention because being so lean (buttermilk is mostly water), I know it will freeze hard and fast. Blueberries are in the market too, which is fantastic since there are so few elements in a sherbet that you want the best fruit you can find. Best of all? No cooking required.

I do a quick test batch. It sets up better than the custard based ice creams since there is hardly any fat (things that inhibit freezing are gelatin, alcohol, stabilizers such as invert sugars, fat, and sugar). Unfortunately, it is still way too slushy.

As for the taste? The sherbet is a pretty color, but there are too many seeds (blueberries have tons). It’s also too sweet. The lemon zest has clumped unattractively around the ice cream paddle and looks like something found in a drain.

I throw the test sherbet in the freezer and cry all the way to the Upper West Side. At Tomoko’s, we troubleshoot and decide that given the time constraints, a sherbet is still the way to go. We also conclude that the freezer bowls are not getting cold enough to freeze the mixture properly. It does not help that my apartment is too warm and the bowls are loosing chill faster than the ice cream can churn. I go home, throw out everything that can be tossed from my fridge, turn the temperature setting as low as it can go, and hope for the best.

Friday, July 5: After staying up doing research and reading about how to achieve a good, smooth texture, I do the following:

1. I get myself a freezer thermometer. It costs a whopping $2 and tells me exactly what I suspected it would tell me: my freezer doesn’t get cold enough to completely chill the ice cream maker’s insulated bowls :-(

2. I figure that since the ice cream maker can only make slush, the best way to break up the giant ice crystals produced is to churn it as best as I can, let it sit in the freezer for about an hour, stick an immersion blender in the half-set ice cream, whizz it to get a smoother consistency, and let the freezer freeze it the rest of the way. I think I got the idea from Southern Living, but I frankly don’t remember anymore.

3. Contrary to Martha’s recipe, I decide to sieve the blueberry purée twice. If I had the time and patience, I probably would have done it once more on top of that.

4. I add booze. Specifically moonshine. I briefly consider vodka but think moonshine is more interesting. Besides, nothing beats a hillbilly-themed table!

5. I add more lemon juice. The forecast for the Takedown is sunny and hot, and I want something tart and refreshing.

6. I follow Susan’s recommendation and add a stabilizer to enhance mouthfeel and improve texture. She recommends glucose and thankfully, Niki’s candy business has her swimming in glucose. I cadge a couple of cups off my neighbor and hope that the combination of alcohol and invert sugar will prevent crystallization and keep my ice cream stable in the heat.

I put together my boozy blueberry buttermilk mixture, pour it into the machine, and lo and behold . . .

Houston, we have sherbet :-)

I crank out 4 quarts and put the bowls back in the freezer to refreeze.

Saturday, July 6: I crank out the remaining 4 quarts and collapse.

As for the competition results the following day? I am pleased to report it went well :-)

Read more about it here.

* A very special thanks to Eryn for the heads-up about the machine! I would have been in serious trouble if not for you!

The next stand mixer I win is yours, Babe! 

And everyone should check out Eryn’s blog on which she has posted her recipe for Honeysuckle Tres Leches Ice Cream with Tres Harinas Cake Crumb and Red Fruit Compote. Delicious!

Special equipment:

A 1-1.5 quart ice cream maker

A fine-mesh sieve

A stick or immersion blender

Ingredients:

2 pints of fresh blueberries

1 cup of sugar

1 tablespoon of glucose or of another invert sugar such as light corn syrup (optional)

2 cups of buttermilk

2 tablespoons of moonshine or vodka

The juice of 3 lemons, strained

How to prepare:

1. In a food processor or blender, purée the blueberries with the sugar and the invert sugar if using. Press the purée through a fine-mesh sieve with a silicon or flexible plastic spatula. Discard the solids and pass the purée through the sieve a second time to get the remaining seeds. You can even choose to sieve the purée a third time if you would like an even smoother texture.

2. Combine the purée with the buttermilk, the moonshine or vodka, and the strained lemon juice.

3. Churn the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If your sherbet fails to properly set up like mine did, churn it as best as you can in the machine, transfer it to a sturdy container, and let it harden in the freezer. After 45 minutes to an hour, use an immersion blender to blend the sherbet and break up any larger ice crystals. When the mixture is smooth, return it to the freezer to harden.

The finished sherbet will keep for about two weeks in the freezer.

Our Growing Edge

This blog post is also my first contribution to the amazing Genie De Wit’s Our Growing Edge. Our Growing Edge is a monthly event that aims to connect food bloggers, broaden our horizons, and encourage us to try new things.

Anyone can be a part of the party! For more information, please go to the page Genie has set up on her blog Bunny. Eats. Design.

This month’s host is Stacey from The Veggie Mama. Thank you so much Stacey! To take a look at the participating bloggers this month, click here.

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73 Comments

  1. Loved reading about the lead up to your great victory! I happen to have both buttermilk and blueberries in the house at the moment. No moonshine though. Would bourbon work?

    • Thank you for the kind comment, Lorraine! I don’t see why bourbon wouldn’t work. Try it and report back! I bet it’s delicious!

  2. What a harrowing few days! You are a champ indeed. I would have thrown in the towel at the first hurdle. Excellent work, and hilarioulsy related, Daisy! Thanks for this enjoyable post. xo

    • Thank you for reading and for all of your support, Birgit! You know what they say: winners never quit and quitters never win 2 ice cream machines :-) Or something like that :-)

  3. One of my favorite posts of yours ever, and not just because I’m mentioned in it. :-)

    Seriously: a wonderfully harrowing, nail-biting read with a happy ending! I loved it. And congrats on the takedown! I can’t wait to get wasted making boozy ice cream with you.

    • Thank you so much, Susan! I don’t know what I would have done without you! Your post on Rhubarb Sorbet saved me. My sherbet would have totally melted that day (especially since I decided to add the booze) if not for you! One of the judges was telling me that I could have achieved the same texture by using liquid nitrogen. It was welcome advice but not something I normally have lying around the house :-)

      Yes, let’s make boozy ice cream together. I also found out that you can only really add 3 tablespoons of liquor per quart of ice cream/sherbet mixture before it fails to freeze. You know what that means? More to drink :-)

      Thank you again!

        • I would love too! Time is slipping by so quickly, isn’t it? I’m not sure if August will be what I had hoped. I just got a teaching position at FIT and orientation starts mid-month :-(

          What’s Seattle like in the winter?

  4. Dude, reading this made me all stressed out. I love cooking but at my own pace and my own terms. Way to get the heart racing. Glad to hear that it worked out and love the idea of a hillbilly sherbet. Second place is very respectable! Thanks for submitting this to Our Growing Edge too. A pleasure :)

    • Thank you, Genie! It was stressful and heat-racing, but worth it in the end. Even before I got to the competition, I was just thinking, “Win or lose, I learned so much and I am grateful for that.” What I learned was also what made me think of Our Growing Edge. Thank you for organizing it!

      And the votes from the judges and from the people? Gravy :-)

  5. poodle

    What a stressful endeavor! That’s how my luck runs too, although I doubt I would have won in the end. Congrats again. When life hands you lemons, make sherbet right?

    • Thank you Poodle for the kind comment and all your support! Did you know that I freaked out so badly on twitter that I actually lost followers? Oh, well. They weren’t the ones who count anyway :-)

      And yes! When life hands you lemons, you make sherbet :-) I’m going to put that on a t-shirt and wear it next year!

      • poodle

        I don’t recall your freak out being dramatic enough to cause anyone to want to stop following you on Twitter. People are weird. I enjoyed the tweets because it showed how you just plowed on through those obstacles and found a way to get it done. (I’m giving you a virtual pat on the back right now) :)

  6. That must’ve been a super stressful time before the competition. Could you even sleep at night with such a panic overload?
    It was great to read your report day by day!
    The sherbet looks delicious!

  7. Dearest Biscuit
    The opposite of a self-fulfilling prophecy I gues…. I am as victim to them as you.
    But so glad you got there with this project and know you have how many ice cream makers?
    Surely it’s time to go into big time production with these delicious recipes!
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy

    • Thank you, M. Dandy! I should know better by now to keep my mouth shut lest I jinx myself. Next year, I will start much earlier!

      I ended up with three ice cream makers in the end: the lower end model that I bought, a lower end model that I won, and a higher end model that I won. I kept the higher end model and gave one of the machines to my wonderful assistant who earned it for hauling all of my stuff to the event in the hot and humid weather (it was a RealFeel temp of 107° that day — or 41.6° C). He earned it!

      • Dearest Biscuit
        41.6 Celsius!?!
        Mon dieu, never mind the ice cream melting, I think The Dandy would have done!
        Ice cream making in such conditions should be regarded as an extreme sport.
        Further congratulations.
        Yours ever
        The Perfumed Dandy

        • Oh it was quite steamy, M. Dandy! We have had a string of unrelenting heat waves. Only recently does it seem to have broken.

          I was quite worried that all that hard work was going to melt before we got to the venue. Thankfully, it was fine and the organizer had chunks of dry ice waiting for us!

  8. Epic! Your skill and patience far outweigh anything I could muster. Ice Cream, like bread baking, is something way outside my comfort zone

    • Thank you, trixfred30! Now that I have this brand-new, fancy ice cream maker, I should really attempt more frozen desserts.

      Sadly, it is still in a box on my floor ;-)

  9. jaspreetksingh

    Woah, crazy story getting to the finish line. It sounds delicious!

    • Thanks, Jas! It was delicious! And very refreshing, which I think made it stand out. Can you believe that I was the only sherbet at the event?

      In any case, it’s been too long, dear friend! Let’s get together soon. What is your schedule like? You and Preeti in town?

  10. Steve

    You forgot the part when you panicked and tried to get me to help think of an off-color name. (I still like “A Kick in the Blue Balls,” “Great Blue Balls of Fire” or “Blue ‘Barry White’ Lightning”). You decided to be more tasteful, and obviously Brooklyn appreciates it. Great story!

    • Thank you, Steve! Yes, I did panic and tried to get you to help me think of off-color names :-) Yours were very good though!

      Actually, a friend of mine who came to the event came up with the best one that I can’t believeI didn’t think of when cycling through Deliverance-themed monkers:

      You-Got-A-Purty-Mouth Blueberry Buttermilk Sherbet.

  11. Are you seriously tempting me with sorbet right now? LOL. I am so tempted and so hungry it’s not even funny lol. I seriously need to consider having lunch earlier int he day LOL

  12. gorgeous! I don’t even have one ice cream machine… Though I do have a gift card with my name on it and it’s definitely going towards one!

    • Thank you so much, Nick! Is that gift card burning a hole in your pocket? You should get one! When you do, I can’t wait to read all about the ice creams you come up with!

  13. heidiskye333

    This is truly the best blog post ever. I know I shouldn’t have (because you were so stressed out) but I laughed because I’ve been “in the weeds” too and managed to pull a rabbit out of my butt. Been there. Done that. But you write about it in the funniest and most honest way possible. My feeling is that Ben and Jerry are eyeing your recipe right now for their next most popular flavor of all time. When I buy Backwoods Blueberry Buttermilk Moonshine Sherbet at the convenience store at 2 am because I have the worst sugar craving in history I’ll tell the woman at the cash register that I know the chef who developed this fantastic treat. :)

    • Thank you for your kind comment and all of your wonderful and heartfelt support, heidiskye333! I managed to pull TWO rabbits out of my butt!

      I still can’t believe that I won. I was so shocked at the event that I couldn’t even put words together properly. I’m just so glad that so many people enjoyed it.

      As for Ben and Jerry’s, are you a 30 Rock fan? I just saw in the subway an ad for their new flavor: Liz Lemon. I think it’s a Greek yogurt-based flavor. Isn’t that brilliant?

      • heidiskye333

        Greek yogurt based flavor?! Oh baby! Does that ever sound wicked tasty! Hubby and I have sort of become yogurt snobs. He has his faves. I have mine. We love “reviewing” new yogurts together and making comments. I’m definitely going to look for Liz Lemon so we can try it. Because I grew up in the Burlington, VT area I remember the very, very first Ben and Jerry’s ice cream shop in the early 1980′s. I think it was a garage if I recall correctly. Boy! Did they outgrow that place quickly! There is a small bronze circle embedded into the sidewalk where their shop used to stand. I can envision your first shop: Daisy’s Delish Delights in SoHo which is known for its Backwoods Blueberry Buttermilk Sherbert, Bacon and Maple Syrup Ice Cream, and Min-Tea Sorbet. :)

        • I love thick yogurt too! Sometimes I like the runny stuff, like if I’m using it as a sauce or something. I always go for the full-fat stuff because the lower fat yogurts have a terrible chalky texture and taste of paste.

          Min-Tea Sorbet? That is a brilliant name and a brilliant idea! Bet it would make a terrific popsicle too. Speaking of which, I think I have some popsicle molds lying around here . . .

  14. maritesszurbano

    Outstanding post. Everyone loves to read a story about the struggling hero and you made it! Love you! xoxo Mar

    • Thank you so much, Mar! I love you too!

      And can’t wait to see you! You still coming, right? Or do I need to fly out to Seattle and fetch you :-)

  15. the husband

    What a great story! I was reading it on the subway and couldn’t help
    but laugh out loud! Heads were turning! Congratulations on the outcome! We will have to plan a trip around one of the contest next time. Is the higher end machine one with a built in compressor? If so, how do you like it?
    B will send you a workaround for the sausages. M.

    • Thank you so much, Michael! I would absolutely love it if you and Birgit were in town for a Takedown. The bacon one is coming up and I would love to bounce some ideas off you!

      I think this machine still has a freezer bowl insert since it’s not monstrously heavy. Don’t really know though . . . it’s still in the box :-)

      But I hear those compression ones aren’t very good. The best reviews that I have heard are for the old-fashioned hand-crank ones. You know, the ones filled with ice and rock salt?

      In any case, it is always a pleasure to have you drop by! Glad I could make the commute a little more fun :-)

    • Thank you, Scroungelady! Yes, I think I have the ice cream thing down. Well, the sherbet-making at least :-) Always so happy when you drop by!

  16. Once again – congratulations on your well-deserved victory! And thank you for sharing the story of its making with us.

    • I gave one away and gave the other one back. Now it’s back down to one :-) But it’s the fancy one :-)

      In all honesty, if I do the competition again next year (and I probably will), doing it the old fashioned way is probably the easiest way to go!

      Thank you for the kind comments and for dropping by! Always great to see you :-)

  17. You are the cutest!!!!! Thanks hunny!! I can. not. wait. to make this! Fingers crossed i get more blubes in CSA this week!!!!

  18. I think I could have used a mason jar of moonshine myself after reading your harrowing tale (though I still laugh out loud when I think of the Cuisinart giving you the finger)!

    • I will never leave one of these things to the last minute again!

      But having said that, I probably will . . . At least the new machine makes a whopping 2 qts instead of 1.5 :-)

  19. Scrumptious, harrowing, exhausting, stressful, and so, so funny! My God, I felt both exhausted and the faint burgeonings of an anxiety attack while reading through your initial hurdles with the bowls. What a stressful experience! I would have curled up and shrieked in a corner from it all. But you hung in like a champ, and, like Mohammed Ali, weaved, ducked and danced like a butterfly to the victorious end. BRAVO, cheri, BRAVO!!!! And what gorgeous looking photos, by the way. I so badly want some Moonshine Blueberry sherbet now! xoxoxo

    • Thank you, dearest Kafka, for the kind comments! I remember when I poured that Peach Bourbon Jalapeño test flavor out and tasted it for the first time. My first thought was, “This needs some bread . . . OH GOD!!!!”

      But it all worked out in the end :-) If I could send you some, I would!

  20. Janet Rörschåch

    That simply looks gorgeous. It’s hot enough right now that a scoop of that would be delightful!

    • Thank you so much, Janet! It was really perfect on the day of the Takedown because it was so hot and humid that day. Sometimes something refreshing is what is needed to hit the spot! Thank you again for the kind comment and for dropping by!

  21. Pingback: Come Cheer Daisy on at the Brooklyn Bacon Takedown on October 19 at The Bell House | coolcookstyle

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  23. Pingback: I’m in! Come see me compete in the Brooklyn Ice Cream Takedown on July 27th! | coolcookstyle

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