Creamy and tart with crunchy flecks of dark chocolate, this blackcurrant ice cream is an irresistible homemade frozen treat for warm summer days. It's also easy to customize with other fruit flavors such as raspberry and blackberry.
Blackcurrants are an incredibly tart fruit. They're not the kind of berry you want to eat fresh off the plant. But they also have a deep earthy flavor that I find rather unique and worth seeking out. You may find blackcurrants at your local orchards or farmers markets or you could get yourself a plant for the yard. I have one plant that produces several pounds of fruit each summer and requires minimal attention.
Blackcurrants lend themselves well to sweet foods like syrups, jams, jellies, and yes - ice cream - where sugar tames some of the tartness. They work particularly well in this ice cream because of the balance of tart, sweet, cold, and creamy. I think they help create something special you won't get with other naturally sweet fruits.
Here's everything you'll need for this blackcurrant ice cream recipe:
- Blackcurrants - You can't have blackcurrant ice cream without blackcurrants. You may find them at farmers markets and local orchards in the summer.
- Whole milk - Whole milk, with its higher fat content, produces a creamy and rich ice cream compared to lower-fat milk, which I don't recommend.
- Heavy cream - Also necessary for its high level of fat. Low fat cream will more likely produce icy rather than creamy ice cream, so while it's entirely possible to use, I think it results in an inferior texture.
- Honey - Adds sweetness and helps prevent crystalization.
- Sugar - For more sweetness, which is necessary to balance the tartness.
- Kosher salt - Just a little to help bring out the flavors.
- Crème de cassis - For even more blackcurrant flavor and the inclusion of a bit of alcohol also helps to prevent ice crystalization.
- Egg yolks - Egg yolks add fat, which helps the ice cream freeze at a softer consistency. They also serve as a binder or emulsifier for the other ingredients. In other words, most of the creaminess of ice cream is thanks to eggs. Read more about the importance of eggs in ice cream
- Dark chocolate - I like my ice cream with adds ins, like some chopped up dark chocolate. If that doesn't sound good to you, leave it out and enjoy the blackcurrant ice cream as it is.
See the recipe card below for the quantities.
As you can tell by reading the ingredient list, this isn't a low-fat ice cream. I've bought those, made them, and tried to convince myself they were satisfying, but they're not, even when homemade. Because lower fat versions are icy, not creamy.
I'd rather have tasty, creamy, and satisfying ice creams less frequently instead of frequent sad, icy ice creams with skim milk, no eggs, and weird emulsifiers.
That said, you can also go the route of an intentionally icy dessert, like a granita. I happen to have a recipe for a Blackcurrant and Sour Cherry Granita that is a completely different, but just as good, frozen treat.
- Blackcurrants - They're the star of this ice cream, but if you just don't have any, replace them with an equal amount of raspberries, black raspberries, or blackberries.
- Honey - Try agave nectar or corn syrup in place of honey. These liquid sweeteners all serve the same goal of creating a smooth ice cream texture by reducing ice crystal formation.
- Crème de Cassis - I like it for flavor and to reduce ice crystal formation, but it's not essential. You could add the same amount of another alcohol, such as vodka. Or leave it out altogether.
- Dark chocolate - Milk chocolate also works, but if you don't want chocolate at all, you can leave it out or replace it with another ingredient, such as toasted pecans, almonds, or flaky coconut.
Pick through your blackcurrants to remove any stems and rinse well.
Puree the blackcurrants in a blender with the milk.
Strain the currant puree to remove the seeds. Press through a fine sieve.
In a pot, whisk the blackcurrant mixture with the cream, salt, honey, sugar, and Crème de cassis.
Cook the mixture over medium-high heat until nearly boiling or it reaches 175 degrees.
Whisk the egg yolks until blended.
Add a ladle full of the hot liquid from the pan into the yolks, whisking constantly for 20 seconds. Pour this back into the pan.
Continue to cook the mixture over medium-low heat until it reaches 180 degrees. Remove from heat and transfer to the fridge to cool completely for several hours or overnight.
Pour the cooled custard base into your ice cream maker and run according to the directions - about 20-25 minutes for a basic machine.
Spread the soft ice cream into a shallow container such as a loaf pan.
Stir in the chocolate chunks, then cover and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.
Scoop out the ice cream and serve immediately. Keep the remaining ice cream covered in the freezer.
🌡️ Top tip
Let the ice cream base mixture cool completely. Don't try and use it before it's reached at least 40 degrees F or your ice cream won't freeze well while churning. My suggestion is to make the ice cream mixture the day or night before you want to eat the ice cream. That way it will have more than enough time to cool down.
Ice cream maker: An ice cream maker is essential in this recipe. Don't try and make this recipe without one. I like the ice cream maker attachment from KitchenAid that works with the mixer I already own. But there are plenty of options out there.
Thermometer: While you can probably get away without a thermometer in this recipe, you might as well get yourself one anyway, they're always handy for cooking and baking. It will help you make sure that the ice cream base reaches the exact temps. Here's a good option from Thermapen.
Metal tin: From my research on ice cream making, the metal tin, something like a loaf pan, helps the ice cream to freeze more evenly. Absolutely essential here? No, but I do suggest using something of a similar size and shape that will allow the ice cream to spread out a bit.
A good ice cream scooper: I don't know why, but there are too many lousy scoopers out there that won't give you a nice round scoop of ice cream. This simple KitchenAid one is my current favorite.
Transfer any leftover ice cream from the tin into a freezer friendly container with a tight seal. Or just tightly wrap the tin to prevent freezer burn. I imagine the ice cream would be good for up to a couple of months, but my homemade ice cream has never lasted more than a week.
If you want to make an extra special dessert, pair this blackcurrant ice cream with my Triple Ginger Gingersnaps recipe and make your own ice cream sandwiches!
Black currant ice cream is delicious. The tangy earthy berries create a flavor that's more balanced and unique compared to other ice creams made with sweet fruits.
I think black currants taste closest to black raspberries, which also tend to have a little sourness and earthiness to them. Blueberries are much sweeter than black currants.
Cornstarch can replace eggs in ice cream. However, if you've ever made a pudding with cornstarch rather than eggs, you may notice it doesn't have as creamy and full tasting flavor. It's the same with ice cream. If you're going to go through the process of making ice cream, I think it's worth including eggs for their richness and the creaminess they add.