Thursday 16 February 2012

Ice, Ice Baby!

Hello troops! How you all doing? Hungry?

Well, for those of you who follow me on Twitter I have recently been tormenting you with pictures of a rather jolly ice cream I made, so I thought I ought to post the recipe here so you can give it a whirl.

The recipe was born of one of my new year's resolutions to cut down on food waste in my house, as I will hold my hands up that I can be pretty shocking with wasting food - particularly fresh fruit and veg. 

I've always been happy to blame my bonkers schedule, the unpredictability of self-employment or the fact that it's too cold and I want to dodge a salad - but I had to be honest with myself and say that, invariably, it was just because I'd not thought hard enough about the appalling ease with which I just chucked stuff in the bin (I also like very much what these guys are doing, @foodcycle, very worthwhile).

And there is something else good that comes from this as well, thinking about what you've got kicking around forces you to be creative, which is where this recipe came from.

Now, I'm not going to pretend that this is anything other than an utterly indulgent recipe made from some quasi-posh ingredients - I'm pretty sure that having leftover Amaretti biscuits & 85% cocoa solids chocolate falls firmly under the Twitter hashtag #firstworldproblems - but my point is if I hadn't been thinking about limiting waste, I might not have come up with this recipe and just chucked the biccies in the bin when they got stale.

As a slight side point, one the things I've been doing for a number of years now is to freeze any (very occasional) bits of leftover beer. Generally I have a couple of tubs on the go that fall broadly under the churches of stout/porter/mild and bitter/barley wine/ESB - this keeps them around for chucking in stews and gravies and such like for a bit of added richness - it's very handy.

Anyway, back to the ice cream, I've chucked in a few variation suggestions at the end, as a result of some people on Twitter expressing a dislike for nuts/amaretti etc. but I haven't tried them, so if you give them a whirl please feed back how they worked out!

I have got an ice cream maker but you don't need one according to David Lebovitz, a food writer I have a lot of time for, however I can't recommend my Cuisinart one highly enough, the bowl freezes in six hours and makes the ice cream in about 25 mins, which is extremely exciting (WARNING: it is bloody noisy though!).

Imperiously Nuts Ice Cream
Just some quick parish notes, it might look like the Jersey milk & extra thick cream are difficult ingredients to get but I bought them in Sainsbury's, so they shouldn't be too tough for you to source, alternatively use whole milk & double cream.

This recipe is a bit like brewing, it's all hurry up and wait! You will need five hours or so overall to make it from start to finish, but most of the time is taken up by cooling, so don't panic...

Ice cream machine
Flexible spatula
Mixing bowl
Heatproof bowl
3 x saucepans
Whisk (electric or balloon)
Sharp knife
Chopping board
Electronic scales
Tubs for ice cream (makes just over a litre)

Ingredients for Ice Cream:
280g extra thick cream
300g Jersey milk 
85g golden sugar
4 large eggs
5 Amaretti biscuits, frozen for 15 minutes then chopped roughly
50g Pisa or Disarrano liqueur
15g vanilla extract (not flavouring, they are vastly different)
1 vanilla pod

Ingredients for Choc & Imperial Stout Swirl/Topping:
330g Imperial Stout (I used Dark Star)
100g 85% cocoa solids chocolate
1/2 gelatine leaf

  1. Mix together milk and cream in a saucepan, split your vanilla pod down the middle and scrape out seeds and chuck it all (pod included) in pan with the milk-mix, add vanilla extract in and very gently warm
  2. Meanwhile, cream together your eggs and sugar, it's mixed properly when it goes very pale
  3. When bubbles start to form around the edge of the milk & cream, take a ladle full and add it to the eggs whisking vigorously to prevent curdling, don't stop whisking until it's all incorporated
  4. Tip your egg mixture back into the saucepan, stir until it's all incorporated and then add your liqueur
  5. Keep heating slowly until it starts to thicken, a little patience may be required for this but I reckon once it's thick enough that you can leave a trail through the back of the spoon/spatula with your finger you're done!
  6. Put in the fridge for three hours to cool
  7. Once it's cooled, fish out the vanilla pod and sprinkle in the chopped up Amaretti biscuits,      then pop in your ice cream maker (or use above method for making without machine)
  8. Once this is churning, put your stout into a pan and slowly reduce by half, this takes about 20 mins on a very low heat, be patient or it'll go bitter
  9. When the stout is nearly reduced, put your heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and break up the chocolate, allow to melt
  10. Soak your half leaf of gelatine in some cold water
  11. By this time your ice cream should be ready, put into tub/tubs and then take pop in freezer for 10 minutes 
  12. When chocolate is melted whisk it into the stout and, when it's fully amalgamated, whisk in your gelatine
  13. Put in the fridge to cool slightly so it thickens but doesn't set, about 10 minutes
  14. Take ice cream out of freezer and make some channels in the ice cream, pour your chocolate stout mixture into channels and then pop back in freezer for 10 minutes or until ready to serve!
  15. There may be some choc mix left over, if you're feeling very poncey you can serve it as a small quenelle on the side! (ok, mine isn't the best quenelle in the world but my mate @cityjohn was sitting on the sofa salivating at the time and I needed to get it to him before he started shouting!)

Suggested alternatives:
If you have a nut allergy, or just don't like them, then I reckon you could substitute the nut liqueur for some orange liqueur and use Jaffa Cakes instead of Amaretti or possibly some creme de mur and blackberries or, mega retro, some creme de menthe (maybe using a little less so you don't end up with mouthwash ice cream) and mint matchmakers!!

Beer Match:
I was lucky enough to have some Southern Tier Crème Brûlée stout in the house which was utterly decadent and wonderful with this. However, I reckon the Dark Star Imperial, Fuller's Past Master's Double Stout or even Bristol Beer Factory's Milk Stout would go equally well. If you were feeling a little more adventurous then perhaps something barrel-aged would work like Goose Island Bourbon County or even Ola Dubh - effectively surrender to the dark side and see where it takes you!