Fig and honey ice cream

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I love figs, they bring back childhood memories of summers by the sea. The marvellous greengrocer down the road always has the purple ones at this time of the year and I’d been eyeing them, thinking they’d be wonderful in ice cream. This weekend I finally had the time to make it. Did a little research first as I wanted more of a complex flavour so I roasted them with honey first and infused the custard milk with cinnamon, vanilla and star anise. Niki Segnit’s The Flavour Thesaurus gave me the idea to use star anise and the end result is deeply satisfying. And, it’s completely sugar free, the sweetness coming from the ripe figs and the honey. Great to eat on its own but also great with just a little maple syrup on top for extra richness.

Recipe and method: I got 8 figs but used only 7 (ate one as they looked so good), cut  the tops off, then cut into 8 pieces each, drizzled with 2 teaspoons of honey and roasted in a buttered dish for 30 minutes at 180C. Meanwhile, poured 300ml whole milk and 300ml double cream in a saucepan, added one star anise, half a cinnamon stick (this was quite a big half) and half a vanilla pod, seeds scraped into the milk/ cream mixture then heated this to just below boiling point and left to infuse for about 20-30 minutes. Separately, whisked 5 egg yolks until pale, then strained the milk and cream mix into the egg yolks, removing the star anise, cinnamon stick and vanilla pod. Whisked this to combine then returned to the saucepan to make the custard, stirring it slowly until it thickened. Once thickened, poured the custard straight into a bowl, covered with cling film, left it to cool then into the fridge overnight. Roast figs also went into the fridge overnight. In the morning, pureed the figs and whisked into the custard then churned in the ice cream maker and froze.

It really is delicious as it is but if you like your ice cream sweeter, whisk in 40g of sugar with the egg yolks.

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Nectarine ice cream

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I don’t think I’ve ever used the ice cream maker as much as this summer (I’ve had it around 10 years). I started off with Nigella’s strawberry ice cream recipe back in early July and have been adapting the recipe to different summer fruits since (flat white peach here). Funny thing is, I’m not even a massive fan of fruit ice cream, when eating out, I usually order nutty ones. This summer’s been too hot though, I haven’t fancied baking cakes all that much and I have fancied eating fruit, especially since local greengrocer has such a great variety and all within days of being perfectly ripe, nothing like supermarket fruit. The flat Spanish nectarines caught my eye, they are sweet and juicy and I thought I’d try them in an ice cream.

I used three flat nectarines, weighing just over 300g, peeled, chopped and sprinkled with perhaps a teaspoon of sugar, no more, then left in the fridge for 5-6 hours. I then warmed 300ml Jersey milk, 300ml double cream and half a vanilla pod, split with seeds scraped into the milk and cream, then left the whole thing to infuse for half an hour. Separately, I whisked 5 egg yolks (Burford Browns, so medium size) with 50g sugar (Biona’s whole cane sugar, I like the taste of this very much) until pale, then added the milk and cream (minus vanilla pod) and made custard, then chilled this too for 5-6 hours. To finish, I pureed the fruit, added this to custard and churned. I toyed with the idea of making some pecan praline and adding bits of this as well but in the end decided against it – I wanted to see what the pure fruit ice cream would taste like and didn’t want it too sweet. It’s just delicious. Very creamy thanks to Jersey milk but I think with very ripe and sweet fruit, normal whole milk would do the job just fine + you’d end up with a lot lower fat content. The other week I made an ice cream with French President plums (the large oval blue ones), I roasted them first for 40 minutes, drizzled with maple syrup and used whole milk, not Jersey milk and the finished ice cream was memorably intense. Seriously good, shame I never took a photo.

White peach ice cream

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This is the third time I’ve made fresh fruit ice cream in a month. We’ve had strawberry, then gooseberry and now white peach. The recipe I’ve been using, from Nigella Lawson is available here and it produces the creamiest and most delicious ice cream. Could have it on drip feed, it’s that fabulous. As I only have a small freezer and the basic Magimix ice cream maker, the full recipe requires churning in 2 batches – I did this with strawberry ice cream and managed to find use for all leftover egg whites. No mean feat, the recipe uses 10 egg yolks! I’ve since made a smaller quantities: 300g fruit, 300ml milk, 300ml double cream, 120g sugar, vanilla pod and 5 large or 6 medium egg yolks (hence so much meringue & macaroons on the blog recently, I’ve had tons of egg whites to use up!). Didn’t need lemon for gooseberry or white peach ice creams. This is a perfect quantity for the basic Magimix. I’ve also used Jersey milk and this really makes all the difference – made the gooseberry ice cream with normal, full fat milk and it was fine but nowhere near as creamy.

White peaches are among my favourite fruit, our marvellous greengrocer has them within a day or two of perfect ripeness too so I think I shall make some more of this ice cream next week. Might also experiment with fruit and nuts.

Espresso and dark chocolate ice cream

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It took some maneuvering to get the ice cream maker bowl to fit into the freezer (small and recently loaded up with ‘stuff’) but fit it in I did because I really fancied some home made ice cream this weekend. I don’t think I froze the bowl for long enough beforehand though because it was taking ages yesterday afternoon, the ice cream was not really chilling and, as we were watching The Master at the same time I was getting pretty frustrated that nothing was happening. Nothing in the kitchen and nothing on the screen. I gave up on the machine and just froze the ice cream hoping for the best and soon after I gave up on the film too and nodded off. When I woke up the film was still on and Beloved informed me that I’d missed very little. What a pointless waste of time (Joaquin Phoenix very good though).

The ice cream, though was well worth the effort, with a very intense and mildly bitter coffee flavour enhanced by good dark chocolate. This is a real treat for lovers of good coffee. Recipe came from Nigel Slater’s Kitchen Diaries II although I reduced the amount of sugar by a third – think Nigel has a very sweet tooth although Beloved did say he would have liked a bit more sugar. For me, this was perfect but I would consider perhaps using a mix of dark and white or milk chocolate in future. Or perhaps not, it really is very good just as it is. Like a chocolatey affogato. Very good aftertaste too.

Marmalade and chocolate ice cream

A lot of my childhood memories are about food, the sensation of eating new things or of particularly enjoying something, like the glorious moment of having Italian stracciatella ice cream for the first time. It’s a simple vanilla ice cream with shaved/chopped chocolate (not chocolate chip) and the sensation came back to me when I made this ice Marmalade and chocolate ice cream last week.

IMG_0509Total reversion back to childhood! At the same time, I haven’t used the ice cream maker in a really long time and I enjoyed making this immensely. Recipe came from Nigel Slater’s Kitchen Diaries II. I only did it because I really wanted to make marmalade but thought I should use up old stuff first. I didn’t expect to revert to childhood, wasn’t even sure that I’d like the taste of this. Well, it’s fantastic. Nigel’s recipe uses single cream for custard, which is then cooled before adding marmalade and churning. Chopped/ shaved dark chocolate goes in just before the ice cream sets so that you get even distribution. This is quite creamy, luxurious and soft and freezes well.

I’d long wanted to replace my old cheap ice cream maker under excuses that it’s a chore having to freeze the bowl first, that the motor sometimes can’t be stopped and so on (excuses can go on forever) but have now realised that none of this matters. It works and can produce such wonderful treats as the Marmalade and chocolate ice cream. Am now thinking that I could easily use up my large stock of white chocolate (which I don’t even particularly like but overstocked on for a recipe) and combine with dried sour cherries or cranberries for a similar result. Ice cream really is such a fabulous thing and there’ll certainly be lots more of it home made from now on.