This past couple of weeks, I’ve been living out my summer bucket list. There have been lakeside runs, cookouts, and rounds of patio drinks. And, of course, there’s been a grunt. I simply cannot let a berry season pass without making a grunt of some stripe. But I may be getting ahead of myself because chances are the name “grunt” in the context of dessert is not familiar to you. And that’s not something you should feel the least bit bad about. If you grew up outside of the East Coast of Canada, you’re not liable to know this dish. So allow me to introduce you to my home province’s answer to the common cobbler – Blueberry Grunt.
So what makes a grunt different from a cobbler or a buckle or a crisp for that matter? Well, a grunt is a dessert that is cooked entirely on a stovetop. Yes, all you need is a single burner, a cast-iron skillet, and a lid for that skillet to make this dish. In theory, you could make this over a campfire, but I personally have not tested it so proceed with caution.
A Blueberry Grunt is kind of like chicken and dumplings. But instead of dropping the dumplings into a simmering chicken stew, you’re dropping them into a pan of simmering berries. The dumplings are then cooked by the steam from the berries and the result is a dish that is so delicious, simple, and if I’m honest, not entirely attractive. So rather than have a skillet of pale dumplings, I gave them a quick egg wash, a sprinkle of raw sugar, and popped the pan under the broiler just to give them a little color. We’re talking less than 5 minutes here.
So that’s the grunt, let’s talk about the Dark and Stormy Ice Cream. This ice cream flavor is, of course, based on the classic cocktail. A dark and stormy features dark rum, ginger beer, and lime juice. It is not from the East Coast of Canada but I do think it offers a fitting commentary on the region’s weather. So how did I translate the flavor profile of the cocktail into an ice cream flavor? Well, in this case, I made a dark rum and ginger-beer-based caramel and rippled it through a vanilla bean ice cream base with lime zest.
The Dark and Stormy Ice Cream really does taste like a Dark and Stormy. Sometimes it can be difficult to lift a flavor profile from one format and have it come through completely in another. More often than not, it is a shadow of its original self. The tasting notes are thinner and quieter than the original. But I can tell you, this Dark and Stormy Ice Cream tastes like a full-throated dark and stormy. Maybe a little less boozy but I must bow to science and accept that copious amounts of alcohol are incapable of freezing properly.
Now, the Dark and Stormy Ice Cream does take a few days to complete. Between chilling the caramel and ice cream base prior to putting the ice cream together, and the final 6-hour freeze of the finished ice cream, this is not a low-maintenance dessert. Well, it is and it isn’t. The cold needs time to work its magic but it’s the only one working. So, yes, this ice cream will take some time to make but it asks very little of you. You mostly just have to look in on it from time to time. And be ready with a spoon when it is ready.
The Blueberry Grunt is, in contrast, very quick. You can make a grunt from prep to serving in 30 minutes flat. So if you’re in a time pinch, you could easily pick up a pint of your favorite ice cream and make your grunt dreams come true tonight. That is, after all, how most of my grunt memories go. A simple dessert paired with a tub of discount vanilla. And I can tell you, it’s pretty damn satisfying.
So that’s everything you need to know about this Blueberry Grunt with Dark and Stormy Ice Cream. Think of it as a love letter to Nova Scotia because if there are two things my province is known for, its blueberries and wild weather.
Blueberry Grunt with Dark and Stormy Ice Cream
- Ice Cream Maker
- Large Cast-Iron Skillet with a Lid
- A loaf pan
Ginger Beer Caramel
- 1 (500ml, 17 fl oz.) bottle ginger beer
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter cut into cubes
- 2 tbsp heavy cream
- 1 oz dark rum
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
Dark and Stormy Ice Cream
- 1½ cups whole milk
- 1 vanilla bean
- 1 lime zested
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- 6 egg yolks
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1½ cups heavy cream
- 1 batch Ginger Beer Caramel see above
- 4 cups blueberries washed
- 1 cup granulated sugar divided
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp kosher salt divided
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- ½ cup unsalted butter cold, cut into cubes
- 2 eggs divided
- ⅔ cup whole milk
- raw sugar for sprinkling
For the Caramel
- Pour the ginger beer into a skillet. Add the sugar and bring the mixture to a boil. Boil until the mixture turns a deep amber.1 (500ml, 17 fl oz.) bottle ginger beer, ¼ cup brown sugar
- Turn off the heat and stir in the butter, cream, and salt. The mixture will sputter violently, so stand back. Keep stirring until the caramel is smooth. Whisk in the rum and pour the caramel into a heat-proof container. Leave to cool completely.2 tbsp unsalted butter, 2 tbsp heavy cream, ¼ tsp kosher salt, 1 oz dark rum
For the Ice Cream
- Pour the milk into a small saucepan. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the caviar. Add the caviar and the pod to the saucepan along with lime zest and salt. Place the saucepan over medium-low heat and cook until steam gathers on the surface. Don't let it come to a boil.1½ cups whole milk, 1 vanilla bean, 1 lime, ¼ tsp kosher salt
- While the milk is heating, place the egg yolks and sugar in a medium-sized bowl. Whisk to combine and set aside.6 egg yolks, ½ cup granulated sugar
- Whisking constantly, pour two ladlesful of the hot milk mixture into the yolk mixture to temper the eggs. Pour the egg mixture into the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Pour the finished ice cream base into a resealable container and chill in the fridge overnight.
- The next day, pour the ice cream base into a container with a spout. Whisk in the heavy cream and pour the mixture into the chilled bowl of an ice cream maker. Turn the ice cream for 20-30 minutes or until the mixture resembles soft serve.1½ cups heavy cream
- Place half of the ice cream in a chilled loaf pan and add half of the ginger beer caramel. Use a bread knife to swirl the caramel into the ice cream. Add the remaining ice cream and repeat with the remaining caramel. Cover the ice cream with plastic wrap and freeze for a minimum of 6 hours before serving.1 batch Ginger Beer Caramel
For the Grunt
- Pour the berries, half of the sugar, half of the salt, and the cinnamon into a large cast-iron skillet. Add a splash of water and place over medium heat. Cook the berries until just saucy. About 10 minutes.4 cups blueberries, 1 cup granulated sugar, ½ tsp ground cinnamon, ½ tsp kosher salt
- While the blueberries are cooking, whisk to combine the flour, baking powder, the remaining sugar, and the remaining salt. Add the butter and rub it into the dry ingredients using your thumbs and index fingers.1 cup granulated sugar, ½ tsp kosher salt, 2 cups all-purpose flour, ½ cup unsalted butter, 1 tbsp baking powder
- In a container with a spout, whisk to combine the milk and one of the eggs. Pour the mixture over the flour and butter mixture and stir until a shaggy dough forms. Using an ice cream scoop, scoop the dough onto the simmering berries. Cover the skillet and let cook for 15 minutes or until the biscuits are set.2 eggs, ⅔ cup whole milk
- Crack the remaining egg into a bowl and whisk. Brush the egg over the biscuits and sprinkle with the raw sugar. Place the grunt under the broiler and broil until golden. This will only take about 3 minutes. This final step is optional.**2 eggs, raw sugar
- Serve the grunt immediately with the Dark and Stormy Ice Cream.