Tag Archives: agave

Homemade Creamy, Sweet, and Slightly Tart Lemon Ice Cream with Raspberry Coulis

Today’s post is part of a series called Sugar High Fridays. Sugar High Friday is an “international sweet tooth blogging extravaganza” which was created by Jennifer, The Domestic Goddess. It takes place on the last Friday of every month and always has a different theme. Since you all know that I have a huge sweet tooth, I thought this would be a fun way to get involved in the blogging community, and get some new recipes!

This month’s Sugar High Friday is hosted by Alex at Yums and Loves and the theme is no-bake treats. (Be sure to go to Alex’s page to see what other yummy no-bake treats people are posting for Sugar High Friday.) When I heard the theme was no-bake treats I immediately knew I wanted to make homemade ice cream because to me, ice cream is the perfect no-bake dessert. I love ice cream, but since I am not eating any processed sugar this summer, my ice cream options are very limited (essentially to homemade ice cream only). I have been researching ways to make ice cream using natural sweeteners, but so far had not tried any.

When I was younger, we used to make homemade ice cream a lot, especially at our lake house. My parents have one of those old fashioned hand-crank ice cream makers so it always took a long time to make the ice cream. It was so hard to wait for it to be done, but it was always well worth the wait. My parents had a motto, “no crank, no cream” so making ice cream was always a team effort. As much as I love commercial ice cream, there is nothing like eating the homemade kind!

This is just like the old-fashioned ice cream maker my parents have.

I got my own ice cream maker for Christmas two years ago (one of the best presents ever). Let me tell you, it is waaaaay easier than the old-fashioned hand-crank version and the ice cream is just as tasty: win-win!

This is the ice cream maker attachment I have for my Kitchen Aid--LOVE IT!

I have made many different kinds of ice cream at home, but I must admit that I was a little nervous about making ice cream with natural sweeteners. I frequently use honey as a substitute for white sugar, but I was hesitant to use honey in the ice cream because I know that honey has a very strong and distinct flavor. I love the flavor of honey, but I thought it might be a little overpowering in the ice cream.

Since I happen to have Ben & Jerry’s book on making homemade ice cream, I decided to turn to them for advice. To my delight they actually had a section on making ice cream using sweeteners other than sugar. They agreed that honey has a very strong flavor and also said it caused the ice cream to have a “crumbly” texture after the ice cream hardened. They said that maple syrup is a slightly better alternative, but because its water content is high, it will dilute the butterfat and “affect the final richness and texture of the finished product.” Hmmm. After reading this, I decided to go with agave nectar because it’s sweet, but not overpowering.

Next, I needed to decide on a flavor. I thought vanilla seemed too boring, but I was nervous to try chocolate because I wasn’t sure how it would taste with my natural sweetener. While trying to decide on a flavor, we got invited to a dinner party with a Greek theme. They asked me to bring dessert so I thought it would be a great place to debut my naturally sweet ice cream. I decided to go with lemon ice cream because it’s a nice light and refreshing summer flavor that I thought would pair well both with agave nectar and a Greek-themed dinner.

Homemade Lemon Ice Cream


1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
zest from 1-3 lemons (I used the zest from just one lemon)
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp agave nectar*
2 eggs
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup whole milk
1/2 tsp xanthan gum (optional)**

Squeeze the juice from the lemons into a glass (or any other non-reactive) bowl. Add the lemon zest and agave nectar and refrigerate for about an hour to let the flavors come together.

Important: Once you’re ready to make the ice cream, you must move very quickly because if the lemon juice is left sitting in the milk too long it will curdle the milk!

Beat eggs in a mixer or by hand until light and frothy, about 1-2 minutes. Add the whipping cream, milk, and xanthan gum (if using) and mix on low speed until just combined (you don’t want to make whipped cream!). Add the lemon juice, zest, and agave mixture and mix until incorporated. Immediately pour into your ice cream maker and proceed according to the manufacturer’s directions.

*Agave is usually used in a 3:4 ratio to sugar. The recipe calls for 3/4 cup sugar (12 tbsp) so I used 9 tbsp of agave. The ice cream was not very sweet at all, which we thought was perfect, but if you like your ice cream a little sweeter, I would suggest using the entire 3/4 cup of agave. Perhaps the butterfat in the cream—and maybe the citrus too—cut some of the sweetness.

**Xanthan gum is used to help thicken things. Since agave is liquid, I thought the ice cream might be a little runny so I used a little bit of xanthan gum. I think it would probably work out fine without the xanthan gum though so don’t worry if you don’t have any.

And after 20 minutes we had this!

At this point I sampled it (of course) and thought it was fabulous. I transferred it to other containers and put it in the freezer to harden.

Ready for the freezer

While it was in the freezer, all I could think about were raspberries. I really wished I had some fresh raspberries to top our ice cream, but the commissary was all out. I racked my brain to figure out what I could use instead and after about 20 minutes I had the brilliant idea to make a raspberry coulis to put on top of the ice cream. Let me tell you, the combination of the slightly sweet and slightly tart lemon ice cream with the sweetness of the raspberry coulis was ah-maz-ing.

Raspberry Coulis


1 cup raspberries (I used frozen raspberries that had been thawed)
1/4 cup agave
juice from 1 lemon

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Strain coulis through a fine mesh strainer to get all of the seeds out. Refrigerate until use.

Everyone at the dinner party thought that my lemon ice cream was a perfect summer dessert. It wasn’t super sweet or too tart. Even though I was a little nervous about how the ice cream would turn out with the agave nectar, it came out perfectly creamy and delicious. The raspberry coulis paired really well with the lemon ice cream making for a deliciously creamy and refreshing treat. I highly recommend you go out and try this right now :).

Question: What is your favorite no-bake treat?


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Filed under Desserts, Sugar High Friday

Naturally Sweet and Utterly Delectable Strawberry Pie

**Don’t forget to tune in tomorrow for Tuesdays with Tommy. He has a five-part mini-series that starts tomorrow and trust me, you don’t want to miss it!**

Do you remember in the post about arepas that I said we made the arepas for Mother’s Day and promised that the recipe for my mom would be coming soon? Well folks, here it is—strawberry pie that is to die for!

Choosing a recipe to honor my mom on Mother’s Day was really hard because she has so many amazing recipes. Her most famous one is for her hot fudge sauce. I swear that stuff has crack in it because it is so so so addicting! I can’t even begin to imagine how many gallons of my mom’s hot fudge I have consumed in my lifetime. Her hot fudge is so good that I don’t even bother to eat any other kind of hot fudge because I know it won’t compare to my mom’s (it’s not worth the disappointment). But making hot fudge for her on Mother’s Day was 1) the easy choice and 2) impossible because it’s the only recipe she doesn’t share in hopes that someday you’ll see “Gramma Judy’s Hot Fudge Sauce” on the shelf in your local grocery store :).

Anyway, back to Mother’s Day. I thought about it for a while and finally settled on strawberry pie. First of all, I love fresh strawberries and when Amanda was here it happened to be strawberry season in Okinawa. And second of all, strawberry pie makes me think of summer and thinking of summer brings back so many wonderful memories from my childhood, including spending the whole summer at our lake house.

My not so red strawberries. I couldn't find any local ones so I had to settle for strawberries from the commissary.

From the time that I was four until I was a freshman in high school, we had a lake house that was just thirty minutes from our ‘regular’ house. It was close enough for my dad to commute to and from work everyday so we stayed out there for the whole summer. Man did I love that place! We didn’t have a TV so I spent all day everyday playing outside with the neighbors’ grandchildren. I spent so much time in the water during those summers that you would think I would have turned into a fish ☺. My mom had this big triangle (the musical instrument) hanging by our front door and when it was time to eat lunch or dinner she would ring the triangle and I would come running home!

We did a lot of entertaining during those summers at the lake house, both for out of town guests and friends from our hometown. Our lake house wasn’t fancy by any means. The best way to describe the décor is kitschy. When my parents bought the house, it was fully furnished. It looked like the previous owners just woke up one day and decided to leave because all of their stuff was still in the house—I’m talking books, dishes, linens, even some clothes! I can remember one of the first times we were at the house and I was looking through the dresser in my room. To my horror, I found a woman’s bra! I could not believe it and was mortified. Hahaha.

Our lake house may not have been fancy, but it was so cozy. One thing that we all loved the best was the enclosed screen porch. We ate all of our meals out on that porch, usually surrounded by lots of family and friends. There are certain foods that make me think of meals on the porch at our lake house—sourdough waffles, corn on the cob, and strawberry pie. And that is why I wanted to make it for my mom on Mother’s Day.

Since I promised you I would share the recipe, I thought it was a great excuse to make it again for us—just so I could take pictures of course ;).

While I was reading the recipe for the piecrust, I saw an option of making individual pies using an inverted muffin tin. I had never tried this before, but thought it sounded like a great idea so I gave it a go and they turned out really well. The piecrust was PERFECT—so flaky with an excellent butter flavor.

I tweaked the original pie recipe a bit to make it naturally sweet, but I don’t think it compromised the flavor at all. My husband and I both loved it—so much that we ate it two nights in a row. (I’m actually eating some as I blog about it right now….that’s how good it is!) Tonight I also topped our pies with some homemade whipped cream—delicious!!

Naturally Sweet Strawberry Pie
*I’m not sure where this recipe comes from other than my mom’s recipe binder 🙂

For the Pie Crust
*Recipe adapted from Joy of Cooking

1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 + 1/8 tsp salt
7 1/2 tbsp butter, chilled
3 tbsp + 1/2 tbsp water, divided

To make a good piecrust, it is very important that the butter and ice water stay chilled until right before you use them. Letting them warm up too much will produce a crust that is not flaky. To really ensure a flaky crust, I recommend wrapping it in plastic wrap and letting it chill for 10-15 minutes before you are going to use it.

Combine the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until incorporated. Add butter evenly over the dry ingredients and pulse a couple of times until most of the butter is the size of peas. Remove the lid and pour the 3 tbsp ice water over the butter and flour. Pulse until there are no more dry spots.

Remove the lid again and see if you can pinch the dough together with your fingers. If it won’t stick together, add a little more water and pulse again. Do not allow the dough to gather in a ball. Once you can pinch it between your fingers, take it out and shape it into a ball yourself. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 10-15 minutes.

To make a large pie, roll out the dough and fit it into a 9-inch pie pan. Prick the dough with a fork (to prevent bubbling), line it with foil, and weight it down with beans or metal pie weights. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, remove the weights and bake for another 5-10 minutes, or until golden.

To make individual pies, roll out the dough and cut into 4 or 5-inch rounds (I used a large ramekin for this). Fit rounds of dough over inverted muffin cups (that have been greased) and prick with a fork. (Side note: I forgot to prick mine until half-way through the baking process and they still turned out okay.) Cover with a large piece of foil and bake at 425 degrees for 11-12 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 4 minutes, or until golden.

Let piecrust cool completely before filling.

For the Strawberry Pie

*I made half the filling for the individual pies

6 cups strawberries, washed and stems removed
3/4 cup agave syrup
3 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 cup water
1 package cream cheese, softened

**My strawberries were not super sweet (since I couldn’t find any local ones and had to buy some from the commissary that were shipped in from the States…boo). I drizzled a little honey over the cut up strawberries to bring out their sweetness, but this isn’t necessary if your strawberries are already really sweet.

Mash (I used the food processor) enough strawberries to measure 1 cup. Place agave in a small saucepan. Blend water and cornstarch together and add to agave. Stir in crushed berries and cook, stirring constantly until mixture thickens and comes to a boil. Once mixture boils, cook for 1 minute (stirring constantly). Cool.

Beat cream cheese until smooth and spread evenly over the baked pie shell. I probably used about a tablespoon per pie.

Fill shell with remaining berries. My mom usually leaves the berries whole and places them tops-down in the pie pan. I was worried they wouldn’t fit so well like that in the mini pies so I cut up the strawberries.

Pour cooked berry mixture over the top and refrigerate for several hours or until set.

For the Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tbsp agave syrup
splash of maple syrup
splash of vanilla extract

Whip heavy cream on high speed until it starts to thicken. Add sweeteners (these are just approximations—add them to your taste preference) and vanilla. Beat until peaks form and pipe over individual pies.

Go make this strawberry pie—I promise you’ll love it! It’s just the perfect amount of sweetness, and utterly delectable!

Question: What summer foods bring back special childhood memories for you?


Filed under Baking Tips, Desserts