Friday, July 23, 2010

ice cream - masterclass

Hot weather calls for ice-cold treats and what could be better than the wonderfully creamy flavour of home-made ice cream? So let us guide you to success in a scoop!

Ingredients:
2 tsp cornflour
275ml Milk
1 vanilla pod
3 egg yolks, preferably organic
1 whole egg, preferably organic
75g caster sugar
275ml double cream

Step one
Blend the cornflour with 2 tbsp of the milk. Set to one side.

Step two
Use a sharp knife to spit the vanilla pod along its length and put it into a saucepan with the remaining milk. Bring to the boil then remove from the heat, and leave to infuse for 10-15 minutes.

Step three
Whisk the egg yolks, whole egg and sugar together in a large heatproof bowl using a handheld electric mixer for about 6 minutes or until the mixture becomes very pale and thick - it should leave a trail for a few seconds when the beaters are lifted from the bowl.

Step four
Remove the vanilla pod from the warm milk and discard (or dry and place in a jar of sugar to make vanilla sugar). Whisk the milk into the egg mixture with the blended cornflour and sit the bowl over a pan of simmering water, ensuring that the base does not touch the water. Stir the mixture until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon - this should take about 15 - 20 minutes. Alternatively, put the mixture into a saucepan and heat very gently, stirring constantly with a whisk until the mixture thickens. Make sure that it does not become overheated or it will split and eggs will scramble. Cool the mixture, stirring frequently to prevent a skin forming on its surface. Cover with cling film and place in the fridge to chill.

Step five
If using an ice cream maker, stir the cream into the chilled custard, then churn in the maker, following the manufacturer’s instruction. Once churned spoon the mixture into a freezer-proof container and freeze until solid. If freezing without an ice cream maker, whip the cream in a chilled bowl until thickened but not too stiff - when you lift the whisk the cream should stand in soft peaks. Stir through the base mixture, then tip it into a shallow freezer for about one hour until partially frozen and mushy, then remove from the freezer and whisk well to break up the ice crystals. Return to the freezer and repeat twice more while the mixture is still partially frozen (leaving about 1 - 2 hours in between whiskings), and finally freeze for a further 3 hours, or until it becomes solid.

VARIATIONS
Coffee and Toasted Almond Ice Cream
Omit the vanilla pod and warm the milk with 3 tbsp of instant coffee granules and 1 tsp vanilla extract. Continue as above, adding 25g toasted flaked almonds to the mixture when it has almost finished churning, if using an ice cream maker. Otherwise, stir them through before the final freezing.

Peach and Amaretto
Dice 1 ripe fresh peach finely and mix with 4 crushed Amaretti biscuits and 2 tbsp or Marsala wine (optional). Add to the basic mixture when it has almost finished churning, if using an ice cream maker. Otherwise, stir through before the final freezing.

Fresh Raspberry Ripple
For the raspberry ripple, mash 100g raspberry with a fork, then mix in 50g caster sugar, allowing it to dissolve. When spooning the ice cream into a freezer - proof container (or beating for the final time) add the raspberry mixture, swirling it through the ice cream - be careful not to overmix or you will lose the ripple effect. Freeze until solid.

TIPS
1) For a deliciously smooth result it’s essential to ensure that all the ice crystals that form as the ice cream freezes are broken down. An ice cream machine will do this for you while it’s churning, but if you don’t have one, it’s important that you don’t miss out the vital freezing and whisking process. Do it at least three times otherwise your final result will have a disappointingly icy texture.

2) For a cheat’s vanilla ice cream, replace the base mixture with a tub of fresh vanilla custard and freeze as in the recipe. You can create other flavours by adding chopped up chocolate chunks, Turkish delight and a couple of drops of rosewater, nuts, mashed strawberries or other summer berries, Smarties…….the options are quite literally endless.

3) For irresistibly moreish chocolate toffee sauce, chop up 2 Mars Bars and melt over a gentle heat with 120ml double cream. Stir until smooth and pour over vanilla ice cream.

4) For a fresh strawberry sauce, combine 1 tsp of cornflour with 70ml water, 2 tbsp lemon juice and 3 tbsp sugar in a pan. Cook over a gentle heat until the sugar has melted and the syrup thickened. Stir in 150g sliced strawberries and cook until they start to release their juices. Remove from heat and leave to cool. Spoon over home-made strawberry ice cream.

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