Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Mint Blackberry No-Churn Ice Cream . . . and preserving sweet red peppers

Angoulême experiencing several days registering over 90°F (32°C) heightened my already significant appreciation of ice cream. Splashing cold water on my face cooled me from the outside while eating ice cream did that from within, a two-sided approach unbeatable both in its efficacy and sensory pleasure.

Churning breaks down any ice crystals so when not using an ice-cream maker, it is important to have ingredients with a low-water content such as fat, sugar, air, and alcohol. Condensed milk which is sweetened evaporated milk will freeze into a creamy mass especially if whipped cream which adds more fat plus air is folded into it. Since there are both blackberries and mint from our potager, they went into this ice cream. For about a litre/quart, add a handful of fresh mint leaves to 237 ml/8 fluid oz of heated-up cream, cover, and steep overnight in the fridge. The next day, strain the cream.

The wild area in the back of our garden consists mostly of brambles. The berries are smaller and more fibrous than the blackberries that already have been harvested from our cultivated bush.  But what flavour! Deep and encompassing. To make the coulis, put several large handfuls of berries in a sieve placed over a bowl and crush them well with a fork. Sweeten the juice with powdered sugar and thicken it with some cream.

Makes around 237 ml/8 fluid oz

Whip the cream. Put 237 ml/8 fluid oz of condensed milk into a bowl. Plop the whipped cream on top.

Gently fold in till it is blended but still airy.

The best way to achieve clearly defined swirls which is not what I did is to put a layer of partially frozen ice cream, dribble the blackberry coulis, and then swirl with a butter knife. While stirring only the latest layer, repeat till tub is filled. Instead I added the coulis just following the folding of the condensed milk into the whipped mint cream and before freezing. After a couple of hours in the freezer, most of the coulis sunk to the bottom so I gingerly stirred it throughout which resulted in a splotched appearance which was fine since I love all things piebald. Freeze about 4 hours.

The mint imparted a herbal freshness, while the blackberries added mellowness

Being somewhat melty, this ice cream appealed to my inner child who had a soft spot for ice-cream soup. All-in-all, this method produced an excellent result. Its texture is the creamiest I have ever had, not much effort is required to make it, and if you love the taste of the Indian frozen dairy dessert, Kulfi, which consists mainly of condensed milk, then this is the ice cream for you. The condensed milk is a flavour in itself, a slightly carmelised one, providing a subtle background for other ingredients so it may not appeal to purists.

In the potager, Corno di Toro Rosso, an Italian sweet red pepper, is beginning to be harvested with the bulk anticipated in about a month.

Grilling on all sides till charred about 15 cm/six inches under the broiler, placing in heat resistant ziplock bags for ten to fifteen minutes to loosen the skin then removing it, and chopping the flesh followed by freezing is an excellent method of preservation.

These will be used in Roasted Red Pepper White Bean Soup (includes detailed instructions for roasting peppers) and Roasted Garlic Sweet Red Pepper Fennel Spread/Dip.

À la prochaine!

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