How do you “summer”? Are there special activities you look forward to, or is there a certain state of mind you try to be present in?
When we lived in Arizona, summer meant “hibernation”. Running from one air conditioned building to the next in hopes of not melting your face off. But there were always those warm summer nights, sitting on the driveway, staring up at the clear night sky filled with stars and a bright moon. We were of course still sweating, even at midnight, but there was a kind of stillness about those nights. A feeling of peace. In late summer came the monsoons. Giving you a break from the monotonous days of scorching sunshine. Dust storms would turn the sky dark, and we would run inside and stare out the windows – watching the storm engulf us. The rain would pour as if a huge water balloon had been hanging above our heads in the sky and suddenly burst. Lightening, thunder, wind, and so much rain. It was still hot, but there is nothing (nothing) like the smell of a desert storm.
We left Arizona for southern California, where our families (and myself) are from, and were looking forward to some beach-vibes in the summer. However, what “summer” came to mean was a-million-plus people all coming to vacation where you lived. The other nine months of the year were beautiful. Perfect weather, less people. But summer brought the hoards of humans into our space, crowding the beaches and clogging up the freeways (okay those are always clogged, they just made it worse). Getting out of the city for a summer adventure took hours. I would still plan for an early summer escape to either Yosemite or Yellowstone, and a late summer trip to beach camp in San Onofre – but we had to plan around the insane population increase otherwise. We learned to mostly bear through those months, our real vacation would happen in the off season.
Now we are in Colorado, having left California and moved here just last October. This is our first summer, and I believe it will be our best. I can’t say much for the winter, or for living in the city (not a fan), but the mountains – YOU GUYS – the mountains. They are so close, in 20 to 30 minutes we are at a trailhead hiking to THIS. We are waking up early on a Saturday to put a few more miles on the car so we can explore THIS. There are sunset hikes after work during the week, day trips into the mountains on the weekend. EVERY WEEK. EVERY WEEKEND. This is my dream! Camping, hiking, and swimming in lakes and streams – all of these activities are endless here because the Rocky Mountains are out backyard. The winter may suffocate me because I like to go outside at all times (comfortably), and can’t afford the glorious winter sports gear that gives people a reason to live here during the freezing months. But summer, this I can do – and I’m going to make sure we do it so well.
Berries, fresh herbs, and ice cream. These things also scream summer, and I combined them all in this delicious recipe for you! Blackberries may be my favorite berry of all (right next to blackcaps and boysenberries), and I discovered that roasting them works some kind of magic. Swirl them through ice cream and I nearly DIE. I took my favorite herb to pair with blackberries, thyme, and steeped a few fresh sprigs in the simmering coconut milk batter. Perfectly sweetened with raw honey, and topped with a cornmeal crumble (because it sounded good and why not?) – this is the ice cream of my summer dreams!
I made this especially for a brand I love, Artifact Uprising. They are incredible people with a beautiful product – and no, this is not sponsored. Just made with love. See this ice cream in their summer feature here (but I also have the recipe for you below). Happy summer folks, now go eat a melty ice cream cone!
ROASTED BLACKBERRY + THYME ICE CREAM W/ A CORNMEAL CRUMBLE
Makes about 5 cups of ice cream and 2 cups of crumble.
Roasted Blackberry + Thyme Ice Cream
2 cans of full fat coconut milk
1/3 cup raw honey*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped)
4 to 6 sprigs of fresh, organic thyme
2 to 3 cups of fresh, organic blackberries
2/3 cup oat flour
1/3 cup organic, non-GMO corn flour
1/3 cup polenta (or more corn flour)
pinch of salt
3 tablespoons raw honey*
2 tablespoons refined coconut oil
*I only use unpasteurized honey (in its raw state), organically produced, and sustainably harvested. If you do not eat honey, substitute maple syrup.
Begin by making the ice cream batter. Whisk the coconut milk and honey in a saucepan on the stove until it comes to a simmer. Turn off the heat and add the fresh thyme, pressing down to submerge it well. Let the thyme steep for 10 minutes, then pour the ice cream batter into a glass/ceramic bowl through a mesh strainer to remove the thyme. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours.
While the Ice cream is chilling, preheat the oven to 350F. Rinse and dry the blackberries, and then sprawl them out on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes (or until they look like they are about to burst). Remove from the oven, and slowly smash with the back of a fork – being careful not to splatter your kitchen (and self) with blackberry juice. Set aside to cool.
With the oven already preheated to 350F from roasting the blackberries, prepare the crumble. Combine the flours, polenta (if using – it gives it a good crunch, if you would like a more traditional crumble texture use more corn flour instead), and salt in a mixing bowl. Add the honey and coconut oil, and combine using a large fork. It should have the consistency of dough. Using your fingers, sprinkle the dough out in small sized clumps on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes (watching to make sure it doesn’t burn). Remove, and let cool completely. Break up into smaller chunks and store in an airtight container at room temperature until ready to serve with the ice cream. You can add the crumble as-is, or do as I did and grind it up into a crumb using a mortar and pestle (or food processor). This method works especially well for sprinkling on your ice cream cone (pictured above).
Once your ice cream has chilled, add it to your ice cream maker and follow the manufacturers instructions. When done, place half of the ice cream in your desired container, swirl in half of the roasted blackberry smash, add the rest of the ice cream, and swirl in the last of the roasted berries. Cover and freeze until set (a few hours) and serve with cornmeal crumble.