This sweet summer child was born on the solstice, and she burns like the midnight sun.
I sat in the grass in a park and held her, her fingers clasped around my finger, and I fell in love. Dark hair covered in a floral hat, tiny lips pursed in her newborn frown, eyes held tightly shut in the blinding afternoon light. She squeaked and squirmed and cooed and smelled like love in my arms while I chatted with her mother and watched the bikers ride past.
A couple years later, she came to the hospital to meet her new baby cousin. She placed her little fingers on his forehead and gazed down at him, eyebrows furrowed in a serious expression, and I could see in her eyes her intention to love and care for her new friend. She could always be counted on to return his pacifier, to bring me blankets, to smile and giggle at him and kiss his head. She is gentle and kind and insists upon justice and fairness in the group. She is bold and brave and forceful and I’m sure she will grow to be a leader, just like her mother.
Like every child I know, she loves ice cream (as long as it’s not too cold), so I made something special for our summer girl’s birthday celebration. The rhubarb is tender and plentiful now, and is sweet and tart like her, so this rhubarb ice cream was a perfect treat for her party.
Rhubarb ice cream
For the ice cream base
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
6 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
For the rhubarb jam
1 pound fresh rhubarb
1 ¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
Make the rhubarb jam first.
Scrub the rhubarb thoroughly before cutting into small pieces no larger than ½ inch. Place in a saucepan with the sugar and mix to combine. Let sit for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, there should be some liquid in the bottom of the pan. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat and cook until the rhubarb is soft and starts to break down. Be sure to stir often to prevent burning.
When the rhubarb is soft, use the back of a spoon to mash it a bit and break up the pieces. Keep cooking until it is thick like jam. (When you drag a spoon across the bottom of the pan it should leave a dry space for just a second).
Let the jam cool to room temperature.
Make the ice cream base
Put the cream, milk, sugar, egg yolks, salt and corn syrup into a saucepan. Whisk until homogeneous.
Add about ¾ cup of the rhubarb jam to the mixture.
Heat over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it reaches 175 degrees. Do not let it get hotter than that, or the eggs will curdle, and your ice cream will taste like scrambled eggs.
Pour into a bowl and stir in the vanilla extract.
Chill for at least 6 hours.
Once the base is cold, churn the ice cream according to the manufacturer’s instructions. When you’re ready to transfer, do so in stages, alternating ice cream base and layers of rhubarb jam.
Once the last stage has been added, take a spoon and gently swirl just twice to spread the jam around.