Tuesday, 24 April 2012
The big freeze
I always thought you had to have a fancy machine to make ice-cream. Or stir it every five minutes. Or faff in some other, unspecified, way. And since cooking, for me, has to be combined with filling in forms and answering the phone and asking Littlest to stop climbing up the damn bookshelves, I don't really go in much for faff. (I'm using 'faff' in accordance with the British definition, having discovered recently on Pinterest that it's easy to misunderstand. A poor woman got very insulted by my comment on her pin because apparently in Australia, 'faff' means 'rubbish', whereas here it means 'too much effort for me to be bothered with'. Luckily bloggers are very reasonable, and we all parted friends.)
The other week I bought a Tana Ramsay cookbook, and though I'm not sold on every recipe (some of them involve insane quantities of ingredients such as a full kilogram of frozen peas or 250g of parmesan) we did rather like the look of the mint and chocolate ice-cream. And since fresh mint is the only herb that doesn't die horribly on my windowsill, we were already partway there.
Here's what you do. You put half a pint of milk into a pan, and heat until just boiling. Beat together three egg yolks and 125g of sugar (see how I veer wildly between metric and imperial here. I'm a woman trapped between two generations) and then whisk in the hot milk. Then, transfer the mix back to the pan and stir until it has 'thickened slightly and coats the back of a spoon'. Or, you could do as I did, and leave it heating for absolutely ages whilst cooking a spaghetti bolognese, and lose all hope of it ever thickening, and then accidentally bring it to a slight boil when you weren't looking and whip it off the heat smartish. This approach works too, though it's probably not for the purists.
Leave it to cool, and then gently mix in half a pint of softly whipped double cream. Throw a handful of chopped fresh mint into it and put it in a tub in the freezer.
After approximately three hours (or, again, to use my method, just when you are dropping off to sleep and have forgotten all about it and have to get up and stub your toe in the dark) give it a good stir and then put it back to freeze solid.
Eat with melted chocolate drizzled over it. It's gorgeous! It's really minty and natural-tasting, so much so that it could almost convince you that it's healthy, even though it is just a big bowl of double cream with some flecks of greenery added.
We costed it out, and it also comes in cheaper to make than the ice-cream I occasionally find falling inexplicably into my trolley when I'm in Lidl.
I got so excited that I immediately followed up with my own strawberry and vanilla version, making the same custard but with some vanilla extract added, and stirring in some chopped strawberries. Now, it's highly probable that every single one of you could have told me this beforehand, but this didn't work at all. What I got was frozen shards of strawberry-flavoured pain, surrounded by what would otherwise have been a perfectly delicious vanilla icecream. You live and learn, at least.