Lemon Curd Buttermilk Ice Cream

Ask me what my favorite food is and I’ll interrupt with “ice cream!” before you’ve finished the question. When I was given an ice cream maker in 2017, I thought my life was going to be a non-stop joy ride from that moment forward. TBH, I barely looked at it for the next two years. The ice cream aisle and I are friends; why would I ruin that relationship? It was only when I was developing a lemon curd filling for Cauldron Cakes that inspiration really struck.

This recipe was born out of two no-churn ice cream recipes. The first I saw during my time at America’s Test Kitchen when the talented team behind Cook’s Country were performing the oh-so-difficult task of narrowing countless options to a mere 12 takes on a flawless no-churn method. They didn’t have to search far for willing taste-testers.

The second was in the Savory Spice Test Kitchen, where Michael Kimball blew my mind by developing vanilla ice cream using a buttermilk base. His recipe produces an ice cream that not only lets shy vanilla flavors shine but also has just enough tanginess to lighten and brighten. It’s an ice cream that feels like a fitting afternoon treat, not just a decadent evening splurge.

While I was inspired by these outstanding no-churn ice creams, I want to let you in on something: I prefer churning when I go through the homemade ice cream effort. It takes a little more attention and an extra appliance (ugh), but it offers a lighter, smoother texture as opposed to the denser and firmer results of no-churn. But, the differences are slight with this recipe, so do whatever makes you happy! Ice cream should only spark joy.

Regardless of which freezing method you choose, there are a few key steps you can take to ensure you’re getting the most from your base. The primary goal when making ice cream at home is to reduce the formation of ice crystals. Too much crystalline formation takes what could be lusciously scoopable ice cream and turns it into a solid, spoon-bending hunk of disappointment—and I’m speaking from experience here.

This recipe provides some insurance: both alcohol (here, in the form of bourbon or whiskey) and liquid sugar (in the form of corn syrup) help to discourage ice crystals. Incorporating air by whipping the cream gives you a head start against solid hunk-dom, but if you really want to ensure scoop-ability, remember to chill out.

Everything—from your ingredients, to the prepared ice cream base, to the final container it goes into—should be as cold as possible. A chilled cream base means less time freezing or churning, which means less time for ice crystals to form in the first place. When your ice cream is perfectly frozen and soft, transfer it to a chilled storage container so it doesn’t melt and refreeze all willy-nilly around the edges. Sound easy enough? Good! Let’s get started:

Lemon Curd Buttermilk Ice Cream Recipe

Lemon Curd

Recipe Inspiration: Pierre Hermé’s Lemon Cream, as described by Dorie Greenspan on Serious Eats
Makes about 2 1/2 cups lemon curd

Ingredients

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 5 lemons)
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon zest (from about 2 lemons)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 12 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into pats

Preparation

  1. Combine sugar, lemon juice and zest, eggs, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk thoroughly until combined.
  2. In a medium pot over medium-high heat, bring about 2 inches of water to a simmer. Once simmering, reduce heat to low and set the lemon mixture in its bowl on top of the pot (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the simmering water).
  3. Whisk constantly until mixture is thickened and coats the back of a spoon. It should reach 180°F on a thermometer. This could take up to 25 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat. Whisk in butter, a few pats at a time. Let each addition melt and incorporate before adding another.
  5. Filter through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean bowl. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the curd. Let cool to room temperature, then chill in the refrigerator until cold, at least 2 hours. Curd can be made and kept in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Lemon Curd Buttermilk Ice Cream

Recipe Inspirations: Michael Kimball’s No-Churn Buttermilk Vanilla Ice Cream for Savory Spice and Morgan Bolling’s No-Churn Ice Cream for Cook’s Country
Makes about 1 1/2 pints ice cream

Ingredients

  • 2 cups lemon curd
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 Tbsp. light corn syrup
  • 2 Tbsp. bourbon or whiskey (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp. Kosher salt
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • Remaining lemon curd, sprinkles, and/or strawberries for serving

Preparation

  1. In a medium bowl, combine lemon curd, buttermilk, corn syrup, bourbon/whiskey (if using), vanilla extract, and salt. Stir until combined and set aside.
  2. In a blender, whip cream until stiff peaks form, about 45 seconds to 1 minute. Scrape with a rubber spatula as needed, every 15 seconds or so.
  3. Add lemon curd mixture to blender and blend until combined, about 30 seconds.

For traditional churning:

  1. Gently scoop mixture into a lidded container and chill until very cold, about 1 hour.
  2. Transfer ice cream base to ice cream machine. Churn according to your machine’s specifications, until ice cream is the consistency of thick soft-serve. In my setup, this took about 25 minutes.
  3. While ice cream churns, chill a lidded quart-sized container in the freezer. This will prevent any of the newly churned cream from melting around the edges when it comes out of the machine.
  4. Scoop ice cream into chilled container. Enjoy immediately as “soft-serve” or freeze until firm, at least 1 hour, before scooping into bowls or cones.
  5. Serve with leftover lemon curd, sprinkles, or sliced strawberries, if desired.

For no-churn method:

  1. Place a loaf pan or medium baking dish in the freezer to chill, at least 15 minutes. If you’ve already created the ice cream base, keep it in the refrigerator while the dish gets cold.
  2. Pour ice cream base into cold dish. Freeze until firm throughout, about 3 to 6 hours, depending on the depth of the dish.
  3. Scoop and serve with leftover lemon curd, sprinkles, or sliced strawberries, if desired.
  4. To store, cover baking dish tightly or transfer scoops of ice cream into a chilled, lidded container.


Cauldron Cakes | Harry Potter Recipes

I’ve been working on these for a while. Since I started this Harry Potter recipes development project, I have been thinking about what cauldron cakes from the wizarding world would look and taste like. I mean, except for the name, they’re never given much of a literary description. In searching the internet for other people’s interpretations, I found a lot of chocolate and overturned cupcakes–honestly, those just didn’t do it for me, and I thought I could do better.

Let’s start with the shape. The reason this recipe took me so long was my search for the perfect baking mold. I didn’t want to make just another ill-disguised upside down cupcake or a cake carved vaguely into the shape of–what is that? a lump? No, I wanted these to be pristine little half-domes with a clean, smooth coating. You know, like a cauldron. My solution: silicone. I bought these molds from the crafting store and started experimenting. I had used silicone for chocolate and Bavarian creams in culinary school, but never baking. Turns out, these silicone molds are not as nonstick as their cousins, Silpats, would have you believe. My first batch of cakes completely tore apart as I tried to remove them from their divots. Lesson learned–grease and flour them, and give your cakes plenty of time to chill in the molds before releasing them for clean shapes.

In the Harry Potter books, chocolate is found in the forms of frogs and wands and in big blocks (in case of Dementors, duh), plus Chocolate Cauldrons are specifically called out as the magical equivalent to filled truffles. Since cauldrons already have a chocolate version, I went another way for the flavoring: blackberry and lemon. The lemon curd topping makes these little cauldrons look like they’re filled with bright, golden Felix Felicis, but you could switch it up with whatever “potion” (okay, okay–jam or other sweet spread) you choose. The blackberry cake holds its vivid purple color exceptionally well during baking and is a charming little surprise after you bite through the chocolate coating.

Speaking of the coating, these little cauldrons are encased with white chocolate colored with–wait for it–charcoal. And you thought that fad was over. Yes, you can totally use a black gel food coloring but where’s the fun in decorating if you’re not cautiously twisting open activated charcoal capsules that you got in the supplements aisle, praying that you don’t stain anything in your kitchen black (again)? It’s a fun ingredient to use for adding natural coloring to food, even if it’s super unnecessary as a health supplement. It has the added bonus of creating a matte finish, which adds a lot of authenticity to the cauldrons.

Overall, these little cakes were unbelievably adorable and I couldn’t stop looking at them. Even my SO couldn’t keep the smile off his face when he admitted that they were “pretty cute.” Yes, the recipe is a bit of a project, but it could be simplified by using a boxed cake mix (either pre-flavored or with the homemade juice mixture stirred in). The blackberry and lemon together create a wonderful balance of fruity sweetness and tart citrus, but the cauldrons could be recreated with different flavor combos (strawberry cake instead of blackberry, chocolate cake with caramel sauce “potion,” yellow cake with cherry preserves, the list goes on). Even with my imperfect chocolate piping skills, they were forgiving enough to be one of the most enjoyable baking projects I’ve done in a long time.

But anyway, enough talking! Let’s get to it:

Cauldron Cakes Recipe

Cake Recipe Inspiration: Stella Parks’s Classic Vanilla Butter Cake on Serious Eats
Makes about 30 cauldron cakes

Blackberry Cake

Ingredients

Blackberry Juice

  • 1 (16 oz.) bag frozen blackberries
  • 1 cup water

Blackberry Cake

  • 1/2 cup reserved blackberry juice
  • 2 Tbsp. whole milk, room temperature
  • 5.3 oz. granulated sugar (150 grams; about 3/4 cup)
  • 3 oz. unsalted butter, room temperature (85 grams; 6 Tbsp.)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 5.3 oz. all-purpose flour (150 grams; about 1 cup plus 2 1/2 Tbsp.), plus extra for flouring molds

Preparation

Blackberry Juice

  1. Combine blackberries and water in a medium pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook uncovered until berries are broken down and juice is reduced and thick, about 30 minutes, stirring frequently.
  2. Filter out fruit solids through a fine-mesh sieve, pressing to extract juice. You should have just over ½ cup juice. It’s okay if yours didn’t reduce exactly to 1/2 cup. If you have over 1 cup, simmer juice for 10 to 15 more minutes to reduce further. If your juice reduced too much, add water until you have 1/2 cup.
  3. Let juice cool completely at room temperature.

Blackberry Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease silicone molds with nonstick cooking spray and sprinkle generously with flour to coat. Gently shake out excess flour, then place prepared silicone molds right-side up on a baking sheet and set aside.
  2. Combine blackberry juice and milk and set aside.
  3. Combine sugar, butter, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric mixer). Beat on medium speed until light and aerated, about 5 minutes, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula halfway through.
  4. Add egg and vanilla to sugar mixture and continue beating until fully incorporated.
  5. Add a third of the flour and mix on low until combined. With the mixer running, drizzle in a third of the juice mixture. Repeat with alternating thirds of flour and juice until all ingredients have been incorporated, stopping to scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula as necessary.
  6. Do a final scrape of the mixing bowl with to ensure all flour has been incorporated into the batter. Fill each of the silicone molds with 1 scant tablespoon of the cake batter*.
  7. Bake for 11 to 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of several of the cakes comes out clean.
  8. Let cakes cool at room temperature for at least 15 minutes, then transfer to the freezer and chill for at least 1 hour. Carefully push cakes out of the molds and keep refrigerated until ready to decorate.
  9. Repeat baking and cooling process with remaining batter**.

Assembly & Decoration

Ingredients

  • 2 (10 oz.) bags white melting wafers (like Ghiradelli’s)
  • 6 to 15 capsules activated charcoal or gel food coloring***
  • About 1/2 cup prepared lemon curd or preferred fruit jam

Preparation

  1. Place white chocolate wafers in a medium glass bowl. Heat in the microwave until chocolate is melted, about 1 to 2 minutes, stirring every 15 to 30 seconds.
  2. Carefully open charcoal capsules over white chocolate and stir to incorporate the powder (discard the capsule shells). Add charcoal (or gel food coloring) until the desired color of gray or black is reached.
  3. Pour chocolate mixture into a pastry bag or resealable zip-top bag and snip a small opening in the corner to pipe.
  4. Using the cleaned and dried silicone mold, pipe about 1 1/2 tsp. of chocolate coating into each space. Press chilled cakes gently into coating, just until the chocolate comes up flush to the top. Work quickly, as chocolate coating can set in the piping bag after several minutes (if this happens, reheat briefly in the microwave).
  5. Pipe a lip/edge onto the top of the “cauldron” with chocolate. Let coating set, about 5 minutes, before carefully pushing cauldrons out of the mold.
  6. If desired, lay out a piece of wax or parchment paper and pipe a small “X” formation that will act as the cauldron feet. Set the cake on top of the “X” and let chocolate set before peeling off of paper.
  7. Onto the top of each cauldron, spoon or pipe lemon curd (or jam “potion” of choice). You could also add sugar pearl sprinkles to emulate bubbles or any other decorations of your choice.
  8. Store cakes at room temperature for up to 6 hours and in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Notes

*My silicone molds held 2 Tbsp. of filling. If you have a differently sized mold, fill each divot about halfway.
**This recipe yields enough batter to make about 30 (1 Tbsp.) cakes, or enough for two molds. If you don’t have two molds (I don’t either), refrigerate the batter while you wait for the first cakes to bake and chill. Let the batter sit at room temperature for at least 15 minutes before baking the second batch. Alternatively–just make cupcakes with the remaining batter, cut out the centers, and fill with lemon curd before frosting or dipping the bottoms in chocolate coating. They’re like extra-capacity cauldrons!
***I used activated charcoal from the supplements aisle and twisted open the capsules to pour out the charcoal. You can also find powdered charcoal which you can sprinkle in, 1/4 tsp. at a time. Be careful not to get this charcoal on any plastic, wood, or clothing—it will stain. Don’t want to mess with charcoal? No shame. Black or gray gel coloring would work just as well.