Red Berry Swirl Ice Cream & Gingersnap Cones

July 23, 2011 at 6:23 pm 50 comments

Red Berry Swirl Ice Cream

For a long time, I’ve wanted to live in a city.

Two semesters in college have confirmed this. Sometimes I think Boston won me over just as much as the college tour. I see the parks as my quad, the neighborhoods as my library. When the sun dips, I love walking down the endless streets – light concentrates in the spaces between brick buildings, bathing the whole city in gold.

I like the way the sidewalks breathe at night. Even in the dark, people are everywhere, and insect wings glint under the streetlights. I love the way honking cars and buzzing neon signs become lullabies. In the morning, I wake up with the city. The bus exhales beneath my seat and happy smells waft out of the bakeries. Every day is new and full of possibility, of discovery and change. I feel alive.

Red Currants

My boyfriend I- isn’t like this. He appreciates the pizza parlors open until 2 am and enjoys late-night photography in Chinatown. But in the “real world,” he could never live somewhere with that many cars, with so many people.

He visited Seattle for the first time last week. I made sure we checked out downtown record shops and college student hangouts. But I-’s favorite things about Washington?

He loved driving east towards Fall City, where thick trees threaten to swallow the road. He’ll remember Snoqualmie Falls, the semi-decayed bridge we were too scared to cross, and the pie we ate at a tiny North Bend diner. He was impressed with rocky Mount Si and snow-capped Mount Rainier. And he liked our floating bridges.

He also liked my backyard. It’s large in proportion to our little house, wrapping around three edges of our home. One section is a grassy stretch, another features the stone path and garden Mom and Dad built two years ago, and the third area holds our herbs and vegetables.

Gingersnap Cones

There’s something magical about growing our own produce. Since our lettuce heads unfurled, I’ve eaten more salads than ever. We get on our knees to find the ripest strawberries, which are more tender and sweet than any grocery store berry. I like slicing them in half, pouring coconut milk over them, and sprinkling the top with raw oats. Food tastes better when it’s just picked, still sun warmed, still breathing.

Before we planted them in our garden, I’d never thought about red currants. Each berry is tiny, translucent, and unbelievably crimson. They’re a little sour and pop between your teeth. The morning every berry suddenly turned ripened, I picked currants until my fingertips and lips were perfumed red.

I have to admit that I don’t really know what to do with them. My mom and I picked every currant in a race against the birds, and now we have cups and cups of a fruit that remains a mystery to both of us. Our batch is a little too tart to eat raw but we don’t have any experience with cooking them. Mom simmered some into a syrup, and I swirled some into ice cream.

Cream Soaked Berry I dropped a tiny strawberry into the point of each cone (to seal the bottom.) The result? The last bite of ice cream cone includes a vanilla cream soaked berry. Amazing.

It takes a lot of currants to make not-so-much puree. I threw in a few of our strawberries to add sweetness, and some honey when strawberries weren’t enough. I layered the red berry puree with my favorite vanilla ice cream. The berries are so deep and vivid against the creamy white, freckled with black seeds, that I see galaxies and constellations in every scoop.

I spent an afternoon making gingersnap ice cream cones, and after an hour in the kitchen I was ready for fresh air. I went into the backyard to photograph them, and realized I didn’t want to go back in. The ice cream just tasted better outside. It made the berry swirl brighter and the vanilla more exotic, standing in the sun without a skyscraper or printed ad in sight.

I miss the bustle of living downtown, but I’ve learned something else. I want to eat like I’m tucked deep in the country. I don’t know how I’m going to make it work back in school, without soil or farm-fresh produce in sight.

For now, I’ll keep eating lunch outside, listening to the leaves rustle and feeling more alive than I have all summer.

Red Berry Swirl Ice Cream

This was my first time making ice cream cones! I made my own mold out of a semi-circle of cardboard, taped into a cone shape and wrapped in aluminum foil. The tuile batter is easy to make and pretty simple to bake. The hard part? Rolling them into cones.

The cookies were so hot when they came out of the oven, I could barely roll them around the mold. I tried wearing oven mitts, but really – you might as well not have fingers when they’re under that much fabric. In the end, I had some really tasty gingersnap cones that were completely open at the bottom. I dropped a tiny stemmed strawberry into the cone before topping with ice cream, and when I got to the last few bites, the vanilla cream soaked berry was magical.

Red Berry Swirl Ice Cream
Adapted from David Lebovitz
Makes a quart

Vanilla Ice Cream
1 cup (250ml) whole milk
A pinch of salt
3/4 cup (150g) sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 cups (500ml) heavy cream
5 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Red Berry Swirl
8 oz red berries (I used 5 oz red currants, 3 oz strawberries)
1 1/2 tablespoons of honey (to taste, may be more or less)

First, make the vanilla ice cream. Heat the milk, salt, and sugar in a medium saucepan. (I waited until I saw the liquid steaming.) Scrape out the seeds of the vanilla bean with a paring knife and add to the milk, along with the bean pod. Cover, remove from heat, and let infuse for an hour.

Set up an ice bath by placing a 2 quart bowl inside a large bowl partially filled with water and ice. Put a strainer on top of the smaller bowl and pour in the cream.

In another bowl, stir the egg yolks together. Reheat the milk until warmed, then gradually pour some hot milk into the yolks, constantly whisking to keep the eggs from scrambling. Once the yolks are warmed, scrape the yolks and milk back into the saucepan and cook over low heat. Stir constantly and scrape the bottom with a spatula until the mixture thickens into a custard that coats the back of the spatula.

Strain the custard into the heavy cream and stir the mixture until cooled. Add the vanilla extract and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, preferably overnight.

Meanwhile, make the red berry puree. Combine the berries and honey in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir and mash with a spoon, bringing the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and continue to cook until the berries are soft, about 10-15 minutes.

Press the puree through a very fine sieve into a bowl. Press down to get all the juice out, leaving behind the seeds. Cool to room temperature and store in the fridge in an airtight container until ready to use. (It’ll keep this way about a week.)

When you’re ready to churn the ice cream, remove the vanilla bean from the custard and freeze in an ice cream maker. Pour a third of the churned ice cream into a container, smooth the top with a spatula. Spread 1/2 of the berry puree over the ice cream. Top with half the remaining custard. Smooth the top and spread the remaining berry puree over it. Finally spread the last of the custard over the puree.

Freeze the ice cream until solid. When you drag the ice cream scoop through the container, the layers of berry puree will swirl through.

Printer-Friendly Version – Red Berry Swirl Ice Cream

Gingersnap Cones
Just barely tweaked from David Lebovitz
Makes eight 6” cones

1/4 cup (60 ml) egg whites (about 2 large egg whites)
7 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon (90 g) sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2/3 cup (90 g) flour
2 tablespoons (30 g) unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon mild molasses

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Combine the egg whites, sugar, and vanilla in a small bowl. Stir in the salt, spices, and half of the flour. Mix in the melted butter and molasses, then stir in the rest of the flour until smooth.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Use a small offset spatula to spread 2 level tablespoons of batter into a circle with a diameter of 6″ (15 cm). I traced the circles onto the underside of the parchment to get even circles, and I was able to bake two per sheet. The smoother and more even your rounds, the prettier your cones will look.

Bake one sheet (two cones) at a time. Start checking after 10 minutes, but depending on your oven, the baking time will be 10-15 minutes. The cookies will be golden brown throughout, with some lighter and darker spots.

Pull the sheet out of the oven and run a thin metal spatula under a circle to loosen the edges. Quickly flip it over and roll it around the cone shaped mold. Press the seam firmly against the counter to close the sides of the cone, and press the bottom together to pinch the point at the bottom. Let the cone cool slightly on the mold until it keeps its shape, then let it cool completely in a tall glass. Roll the other cone (if the cookie has cooled too much to roll, return the sheet to the oven for a minute.)

Continue to bake and roll cones with the remaining batter.

Printer-Friendly Version – Gingersnap Cones

Entry filed under: Cookies, Frozen Desserts. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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50 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Molly  |  July 23, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    I’ve been reading about people ending up with red currants in their CSAs this past week. Your ice cream and cones solutions sound sublime, but I think if I had a box around (and it wasn’t 99 degrees outside!) I would bake some sort of rustic tart/crostata with the currants, mixed with some nice summery nectarines. Maybe toss the fruits with savory herb; thyme, perhaps?

  • 2. Chef Tom Minchella  |  July 23, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    That is great timing with this hot weather we are having, thanks for the post!!

  • 3. The Embellished Nest  |  July 23, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    Beautiful post! I’m going to try making those cones!

  • 4. kyleen  |  July 23, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    Making your own ice cream cones is such a great idea. My brother loves ice cream + ice cream cones, but my mom hates store-bought ice cream cones. If only I had an ice cream machine and some red currants…

  • 5. Lorilee  |  July 23, 2011 at 10:20 pm

    The cones and icecream sound wonderful. I have never grown currants. Slightly sour berries make wonderful preserves and jellies or pies. I love to make jelly with the wild Mustang grapes that grow here in South Texas. (The skin is too sour to eat. You cook the grapes and only use the juice because of this and the seeds!)
    I just had a lesson in Apple Strudle making from my 90 year old grandmother!

  • 6. Warm Vanilla Sugar  |  July 24, 2011 at 1:58 am

    Your hometown sounds so nice. I’m so glad your bf enjoyed it. I love the city too, and my bf is more interested in the parks and green spaces around the city. This ice cream is such a great looking treat! I have red currants in my garden now. Better try this!

  • 7. Emily @ Wardrobe Block  |  July 24, 2011 at 3:38 am

    Gorgeous post.

  • 8. Charlotte  |  July 24, 2011 at 6:38 am

    I mix red currants into muffins or rolls just as though as they were cherries or cranberries. They’re a little sour, but combine nicely with the sweet dough or some chocolate chips. And I love red currant jam.

  • 9. Lauren at Keep It Sweet  |  July 24, 2011 at 7:32 am

    I love this. Your photos for this post are amazing!

  • 10. Sibylla  |  July 24, 2011 at 8:23 am

    my mom uses red currants in cakes –
    almond crust, lots of berries, and a sweet meringue topping.
    That’s a German classic; if you want to, I can translate a recipe for you. It’s delicious!

  • 11. Lauren  |  July 24, 2011 at 10:13 am

    Absolutely love your blog. It has inspired me to bake something special today. Will post pictures soon! I just finished my freshman year at BU, what college do you go to in Boston?

  • 12. sarah c  |  July 24, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    this is kind of embarrassing but i didn’t know what those little red berries til now, haha. i’m definitely going to have to try your recipe. and i think i’m more like your boyfriend- as much as i love what the city offers, i usually need to escape into the countryside not long after.

  • 13. Sue  |  July 25, 2011 at 12:53 am

    The gingersnap cone sounds amazing!

  • 14. Amy  |  July 25, 2011 at 6:45 am

    This was a beautiful post :) Your writing is so gorgeous, fluid and evocative of every sun soaked moment I didn’t want to stop reading and I definitely can’t wait for summer to come again in the Southern Hemisphere so that I can try making my own ice cream and cones to match!

  • 15. thefunkykitchen  |  July 25, 2011 at 9:52 am

    What a great idea for the cones! I have been making ice cream like mad all summer, the cones will certainly be a hit!

  • 16. wizzy  |  July 25, 2011 at 11:54 am

    Fresh berries and ice-cream. This just screams summer:-)

  • 17. Evelyn  |  July 25, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    The photos are lovely – so summery! :)

  • 18. Lacrema  |  July 25, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    Beautiful post. I always enjoy your pictures and youur writing so much. I’m glad we’ve seen more of you this summer!

  • 19. Michelle  |  July 26, 2011 at 6:11 am

    Looks delish, cant wait to try this.

  • 20. Lynne @ 365 Days of Baking  |  July 26, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    Beautiful post. The ice cream and cone look delicious. I keep saying I’m going to dust off the ice cream maker and use it. Maybe today’s the day.

  • 21. elizabeyta  |  July 26, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    I do not think currants can grow here but this post definitely gives me ideas. I love the homemade ice cream cones. I had not thought of that and somehow missed that from David Lebovitz.


  • 22. yossy | apt2bbakingco  |  July 26, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    That lead photo is just gorgeous. If you still have them around, currants are amazing in jellies and jams. I made a strawberry-currant jam last year that knocked my socks off with it’s sweet-tartness.

  • 23. Loralei  |  July 26, 2011 at 7:23 pm

    Red currant jelly is fabulous. Clear and sparkly. Wonderful on a cranberry-nut muffin and also as a glaze with chicken. Little jars are wonderful gifts at Christmas.

    • 24. Elissa  |  July 26, 2011 at 8:21 pm

      Loralei – That sounds fantastic! We still have a lot of currants and I’m sold, I think this is what I’m going to make!

  • 25. Yatee  |  July 26, 2011 at 7:58 pm

    Yum, I am imagining how that little strawberry at the bottom must taste. I recently made a similar ice cream, from inspiration from another blog- gingersnap ice cream with a cherry swirl. It was like cherry pie, perfect for summer. Unfortunately, the gingersnap flavor was a little overwhelming. Gingersnap cones seem perfect, though.

  • 26. Erika  |  July 27, 2011 at 1:51 am

    This looks so yummy. When I was growing up my parents had a huge garden . 2 red current bushes. My mom would layer it with vanilla pudding,. so good. Now I have to buy the berries and make this recipe. Looks yummy.

  • 27. bittersweetbaker  |  July 27, 2011 at 6:39 am

    I’ve been wanting to make homemade ice cream cones for a long time! Your gorgeous photography has given me the push I needed – I’m planning on pairing the gingersnap cones with a lemon ice cream for tomorrow.

  • 28. Geni - Sweet and Crumby  |  July 27, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    I know what you mean about loving the city but feeling completely at home or relaxed in a more rural area. I live in a suburb outside L.A. and our backyard is totally secluded—a perfect match between city and country life if you ask me. We see deer, rabbits and flocks of birds on a regular basis; tall pine trees and palms intermix as well. I think you will find a balance to what you like about city and “country” life somewhere when you claim an area to stay. As for the ice cream, it looks marvelous, refreshing and rich at the same time. Have never tried making my own cones, but that’s worth the exploration it seems. Take care and enjoy the rest of your summer.

  • 29. The Taste of Summer: Berries | the kitchen generation  |  July 28, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    […] Red currants are slowly becoming less of a mystery to me. Before my mom planted a bush in our garden, I saw them as an unusual luxury ingredient, something you’d look for at the grocery store for a particular recipe. Now we have more than we can eat, enough to stain every finger. Each berry is a slightly see through globe, redder than you thought possible, thin-skinned and easy to burst. But their sweet-tart flavor makes them more then a garnish. I like throwing a few handfuls into baked goods, simmering them into a sauce to stir into lemonade and maple syrup, and swirling puree into vanilla ice cream. (Recipe: Red Berry Swirl Vanilla Ice Cream) […]

  • 30. Russell at Chasing Delicious  |  July 28, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    The gingersnap cones sound incredible! And it all looks so scrumptious. What a great recipe. Thanks for sharing!

  • 31. Candace  |  July 29, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    Have you seen the Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams book? I immediately thought of it when I saw this post — the ice cream looks so creamy and full-flavored.

    Maybe a currant and orange scone would work?

    I’m so glad that college life hasn’t kept you from blogging and shooting staggeringly beautiful photos!

  • 32. MaggieCooks  |  July 29, 2011 at 7:32 pm

    It looks delicious can’t wait to make my own cones! :D

  • 33. Cookie  |  July 31, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    Your writing is so beautiful. You are a natural at both writing and cooking. Thank you for sharing both with all of us! :)

  • 34. Hilda  |  August 1, 2011 at 4:29 am

    Hey there,

    I was in Boston for school, and your description of the atmosphere was dead on. However, I dreaded the torturous summer in the east coast, damn the intense humidity, but nevertheless love the beautiful white Christmas.

    Your post about ice cream and cones is making me crave for baskin robbin in this god forsaken heat.

    Love your writing, but I have to agree with your bf, I would rather be in seatle over Boston :)

  • 35. Rachel - Season With Love  |  August 1, 2011 at 10:32 pm

    Wow, that ice cream looks beautiful! Love the splash of bright red through it. If only I had an ice cream maker!

  • 36. ♥, Ange  |  August 3, 2011 at 1:17 am

    I’ve been following your blog for a little while now, and you are such a good writer! I really enjoy reading your posts. Anyway, love the homemade cones, definitely gonna have to try them soon!

  • 37. Cookie Cakes  |  August 3, 2011 at 10:29 am

    wow, those cones look unreal!

  • 38. Kennedy  |  August 7, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    Can’t decide which sounds better – the cone or the ice cream!

  • 39. helen  |  August 8, 2011 at 8:01 am

    Hey, love your site, especially because I’m seventeen and baking (soon to be 18 and baking though :)). The ice-cream seems delicious, but I hope to try your lemon basil oil cake first! Hope to enjoy more your posts!

  • 40. CJ  |  August 8, 2011 at 10:14 pm

    I learned how to eat red currants years ago during a high-school summer in Germany – my host family grew them in their backyard garden. Put currants in a dish, pile on sugar, eat with a spoon.

  • 41. lemoncupcakegirl  |  August 9, 2011 at 10:24 am

    Red currents were my all time favourite berry as a child. My dad had a little homestead in our backyard, and we had all the berries and fruit we could ever want. I’d sit outside for hours and pick the red currents.

  • 42. Kangatush  |  August 9, 2011 at 11:42 am

    The soil part is tough, but Boston has tons of farmer’s markets to get your produce fix. Go to to search. It has the hours and days of operation and it shows the end date for the season (most are the end of November). I’m sure there’s at least one in walking distance, or at least a short T ride.

  • 43. Rachel's Cottage House  |  August 11, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    Those cones look fantastic! I will have to try making them some time. This is my first visit to your blog, but it’s great, and you should be proud of it!
    -Rachel (

  • 44. Olivia  |  August 14, 2011 at 4:15 am

    I love this. I’ve been wanting to make homemade ice cream cones for a long time! Your photos for this post are amazing!

  • 45. Michelle Canfield  |  August 22, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    We grew red, pearl (albino) and black currants this year, and I was wondering the same thing, what to do with the scads of little berries. Those bushes really produce! We have made tasty jelly so far, tho I no longer believe the recipes that say currants have enough natural pectin: ours was runny, and will require a re-do with added pectin. I am inclined to think that the currants might make an excellent sauce for lamb? Or duck? That is next on my list to try…

  • 46. mushroom recipes  |  September 2, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    Beautiful swirl-ice-cream! I love blueberries also great timing cherry

  • 47. Karen  |  September 26, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    I remember seeing someone on a Food Network show making cones…they wore impecably clean white cotton gloves to handle them hot.

    ~K :-)

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Elissa Bernstein

I'm Elissa: a 17 (now 21) year old baker in Seattle Boston juggling creative nonfiction workshops, subway maps, and my passions for writing, baking, and photography. Photo above © Michelle Moore

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