Mexican desserts

Nothing says spring like strawberry-mezcal ice cream

I don't know what inspired this exactly. Except it's spring, so I'm jonesing for strawberries. And it's spring, so I'm jonesing for mezcal. A friend was coming to lunch last weekend, and I wanted to cook Mexican. But dessert . . . strawberry shortcake? Nah. A big ol' Pavlova smothered in strawberries and cream? Nah. Almond cake with strawberries? Nah. None of it felt right to follow the lamb barbacoa tacos I'd planned. 

But ice cream! Who makes strawberry ice cream, anyway? I would! 

I figured I'd roast my strawberries, as they weren't exactly peak-season Harry's Berries (the fabulous ones I'd buy at the farmers market if I happened to be in Santa Monica). Roasting the supermarket berries would concentrate their flavor a bit. For some reason, when I thought about roasting them, I thought of hitting them with a little mezcal. In the back of my mind, I was remembering a wonderful nieve de naranja (orange ice) con mezcal my friend Michalene and I had when we were in Mexico City in February, at a restaurant called Fonda Fina. "Aha" moment! I thought mezcal might work well with the brightness of the berries. 

And so it did! Making the custard base is always easier than it sounds; just take it slow. Best to do this the day before you want to serve it, so the ice cream can set up in the freezer overnight – or at least for a few hours. In any case, you want to have time to chill the custard before it goes into the ice cream maker.

Want to leave out the mezcal? Just substitute half a teaspoon of vanilla. Or a teaspoon of aged balsamic vinegar. I served the ice cream with a couple of (store-bought) almond crisps.

Want the recipe? Here you go . . .