Summer may be elusive but you catch a taste of it in my kitchen. I’m still excited by my new ice-cream maker and decided what I most wanted to make was a really good vanilla ice cream. The test for me of a good gelateria is how great their vanilla and chocolate flavours are. I want to see little vanilla seeds dotted through my vanilla ice cream so I know it’s the real thing; I want my chocolate ice cream to be rich, dark and deeply chocolatey. I had success with the lovely Moro chocolate ice cream recipe the other day and after a search through my cookbooks at the weekend, I decided on a gorgeous, rich sounding vanilla ice cream from Skye Gyngell’s My Favourite Things.
One thing I make quite often (and it has not so far appeared on these pages) is fruit compote. I love the dark rich sweetness of a good compote with ice cream, Greek yogurt or as a topping for my breakfast cereal in the morning. There’s usually a good sized bowl once it’s made so I have fruity treats on hand for a few days. It seemed the perfect accompaniment to a rich vanila ice cream, its acidity cutting through the richness of the cream.
Both these recipes need to be made in advance – although in theory my ice-cream maker should make ice cream ready to eat, I always feel it needs a little freezer time. So, let’s start with the vanilla ice cream.
Rich Vanilla Ice Cream
First of all, heat 450g double cream and 150ml whole milk in a heavy-based pan with 1 vanilla pod. Split the vanilla pod first and scrape out all the seeds, put the seeds and the pod into the pan. Slowly bring to the boil then take from the heat and leave to infuse for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, beat 6 large egg yolks with 120g caster sugar until thick and pale in colour. Bring the milk mixture gently to the boil again, then slowly whisk into the egg mixture.
Return the mixture to the pan and very gently – so it doesn’t curdle – heat, stirring all the time with a wooden spoon, till it thickens and lightly coats the back of the spoon (about 5-8 mins). Pour into a large bowl and leave to cool. Stir from time to time to prevent a skin forming or cover with cling film. When it’s cold, churn in an ice-cream maker (if you don’t have one, you can pour it into a container and remove from the freezer a few times and stir with a fork. You won’t get the same smooth consistency – but it will still taste good!)
Summer Fruit Compote
I often make this with just raspberries and blueberries; I never add strawberries as I don’t like the flavour or consistency of cooked strawberries. But at the weekend, I went all out and had four fruits, adding blackberries and cherries too. Full-on summer!
Put 200g each of raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and cherries into a large pan. It was at this time that I remembered I keep meaning to buy myself a cherry stoner – it is now on my ‘John Lewis’ list! So – do stone the cherries before cooking; a mouthful of cherry stones is not good. Now sprinkle over 2 tablespoons caster sugar and 4 tablespoon of Creme de Cassis. Leave to macerate for about 15 minutes. Then put on the heat and bring slowly to the boil, stirring occasionally. I don’t like to cook the fruit for too long because I want it to stay whole, so just allow to gentle bubble for a couple of minutes then tip into a strainer over a large jug.
Tip the juices back into the pan and bring to a brisk boil so it bubbles down into a thick syrup. As more juices collect in the jug as the fruit drains, just keep adding them to the pan. Now turn the fruit into a nice serving bowl, pour over the hot syrup and leave to cool. Once cool, put in the fridge as the compote is much nicer cold.
When you’re ready to eat the dessert, bring the ice cream out of the freezer a few minutes ahead of time so it has a chance to soften a bit. Then scoop some into a bowl and top with the compote. Wow! I promise you, this is heavenly!
And an added bonus …
Unless you’re feeding a few people, you’ll have some of both left (we three in the house at the moment have had two evenings dessert from this and there’s still some left). However, one thing I really love is it to add it to my breakfast. I always have some granola or muesli topped with plain yogurt in the morning, but the addition of a couple of spoonfuls of this fabulous compote lifts breakfast to new heights. What a wonderful start to the day.