Around the fourth of July every year I start harvesting black raspberries that grow wild near where I live. Then I make my first batch of homemade ice cream for the holiday. All too quickly the black raspberry picking extravaganza is over, but the longing for the ice cream (and my favorite ice cream pie) is still with me. So instead I combine (store-bought) raspberries and blackberries for a delicious flavor base that comes pretty darn close to black raspberry. Despite the fruit base, this is a creamy, custardy ice cream—the kind I grew up making in Delaware.

For the best results, freeze the ice cream custard in two batches (unless you happen to have one of the large-capacity home ice cream makers). You’ll have plenty to make the ice cream pie and still have some left over for midnight snacking.

Makes about 4 cups ice cream base or 2 1/2 pints ice cream

  • 12 ounces black raspberries OR a mix of 6 ounces blackberries and 6 ounces raspberries
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • Table salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. In a blender, purée the berries until they are completely smooth.

2. Strain the berry purée through a fine-mesh sieve into a 2-cup glass (liquid) measuring cup. Press on the solids to be sure to extract all of the juice.

3. Stir in 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the sugar and the maple syrup. (You should have about 1 1/2 cups purée, or a little more.)

4. Refrigerate the purée for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours.

5. Fill a large wide bowl halfway with ice and water. Put a smaller heat-proof bowl (a stainless steel mixing bowl of at least 6-cup volume works well) in the ice bath. Have a strainer ready, too.

6. Whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl and set aside. In a medium saucepan, combine the remaining 1/2 cup sugar with the cream and a pinch of salt. Heat the mixture over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally (but keeping an eye on it), until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is just starting to bubble around the edges of the pan (3 or 4 minutes).

7. Gently pour half of the cream into the egg yolks, whisking constantly to prevent the eggs from curdling. Pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan and cook over low heat (or medium low if your stove is electric!), stirring constantly and scraping the bottom of the pan with a heatproof cooking spoon until the custard thickens slightly to a more viscous consistency and coats the back of a wooden spoon (holding a horizontal line drawn through it with a finger), 3 to 5 minutes. Don’t let the custard overheat or boil or it will curdle.

8. Immediately strain the custard into the bowl nestled in the ice bath. Stir the custard frequently over the ice bath until an instant-read thermometer registers 70°F. Add the vanilla extract and stir. Add all of the berry purée and mix well. 

9. Chill the berry custard in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight. (I put mine in a 2-quart Pyrex® glass measure and cover tightly with plastic.)You can also divide the base in half at this point.)

10. Freeze half of the berry custard in your ice cream maker’s canister according to the manufacturer’s instructions. (If you have one of the newer super-large ice cream makers, you can freeze the whole batch at once.)

11. Transfer to an airtight container and lay a piece of plastic on the surface of the ice cream before freezing it, covered, for up to several days.

12. Wash and rechill your ice cream canister, freeze the second half of the ice cream base, transfer it to an airtight container and freeze.