I wrote about Diana Henry’s lovely book, Crazy Water Pickled Lemons in a recent post and had been eyeing up her recipe for Lemon & Basil Ice Cream for a time. What gorgeous summery flavours! Just the thing for these occasional days of summer we’re getting and, I thought, a great dessert to follow the barbecue we were having last night. I’d also wanted to try making some biscotti again, following my recent first attempt, and after looking through a few recipes decided to add some chopped good quality dark chocolate with some semi-dried sour cherries I found in Waitrose to a basic recipe. It seemed a good combination, with its reference to retro Black Forest gateau – chocolate and cherries.
Lemon & Basil Ice Cream
Heat 300ml whole milk to almost boiling point. Remove from the heat and add 30 large basil leaves, torn roughly, and the rind from 1 lemon (I used a potato peeler to take it off; avoid leaving any of the bitter white pith on it). Set aside to infuse for about an hour. I couldn’t resist a little taste at this stage and the fragrant basil and fresh zingy lemon had added a fabulous flavour to the milk.
Now beat 4 egg yolks with 150g caster sugar till thick and pale. Strain the milk into a jug, using the back of a spoon to press out all the flavour from the basil and lemon rind. Now stir into the egg mixture and return to a clean pan. (Diana Henry does this bit in a bain-marie but as long as you’re careful not to heat too quickly the custard shouldn’t curdle or separate.) Over a low-medium heat, stirring all the time, heat the custard until it thickens slightly and coats the back of a wooden spoon/spatula. Transfer to a bowl and leave to cool. Then add 150ml whipping cream, lightly beaten, and 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Pour into an ice-cream maker or, if you don’t have one, a freezer container and then remember to whisk it a couple of times during the freezing process.
Chocolate & Sour Cherries Biscotti
Heat the oven to 160C. Now combine in a bowl 90g plain flour (I used Sharpham Park’s Organic Spelt White Flour for its great and nutty flavour), 1 teaspoon baking powder, 55g caster sugar, 25g dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces, and 25g sour cherries, chopped. Add 1 large egg and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste. mix together into a rough dough.
Knead the dough lightly on a floured surface and shape into an log. From my previous biscotti experience, I decided to try to get this fairly even. Then put on a baking sheet covered with baking parchment and bake for 25 minutes. Remove and allow to cool a bit, then cut into slices about 1cm thick, on the slant. Lay them back on the baking sheet and return to the oven for about another 10 minutes until dried out and biscuit-like.
They were really good. Lovely and crisp with just a slight gooeyness in the middle; gorgeous dark chocolate melting into the sour cherries. Mmm. Definitely a good combination.
And as for the ice cream, that was equally divine with the fragrance of the basil, the lemon cutting through the creaminess to give a clean-tasting but still rich ice cream. A little bit of dessert heaven.