I’m good at finding little excuses for a treat. First there was the buying of the new ice-cream maker and so, of course, it had to be tried out, and tried out again … and again. But then we had a small barbecue party a couple of Saturdays ago and while son Jonathan was preparing and cooking most of the food, I offered to make more of my Lemon & Basil Ice Cream for dessert and decided to follow A Cena’s Not So Secret Supper Club’s idea of serving the ice cream dessert in a cone. With everyone perched on chairs and stools but no tables for eating, it was the ideal way to serve ice cream. And so … coming back to that excuse! … I had some waffle ice cream cones that just had to be used up. Which meant ice cream was on the menu again last night.
Generally I’m with the Italians when it comes to eating ice cream out of a cup rather than a cone. At one of the many famous and fabulous gelaterias in Rome – San Crispino – they even refuse to offer cones as an option; you have to have your gelato in a cup. But I have to say the waffle cones I found in my local supermarket were good and there’s something about eating ice cream out of a cone that releases the child within: connects to childhood holidays and Mr Whippy vans (even if I wouldn’t be tempted now) ringing their bell as the van comes round on a Sunday afternoon; or on the beach soft ice cream running down one’s hand and mixing with the sand from the sandcastle you’ve just created. It’s being English and walking along a cold and windy promenade by the sea on a wintry day – even though it’s July – and being absolutely determined not to allow the bad weather to spoil your day at the seaside.
I’ve been thinking about ripples. Ripples of the fruity kind that run deliciously through vanilla ice cream. Nigel Slater did the blackcurrant kind in yesterday’s Observer Food Monthly but I went with my favourite blueberries. My enthusiasm led me to buy a large pack (380g) on special offer in Waitrose which meant in the end I made too much compote to ripple though my ice cream. But that’s OK; having leftovers is no bad thing. I love compote and as I’ve said before, it’s great on morning cereal with plain yogurt.
Vanilla Ice Cream with a Blueberry Ripple
First make your blueberry compote. I had (as said above) 380g pack of blueberries. But if you don’t want extra compote, just buy a smaller pack and adjust other ingredients accordingly. Put the blueberries in a saucepan with 3 tablespoon sugar and 3 tablespoons water. Bring carefully to a boil and simmer for just 3-5 minutes until the blueberries start to pop and soften – but you want them to stay whole. Take from the heat and strain, collecting the juice in a bowl. Return the juice to the pan and boil hard to reduce by about half to a thick syrup. Pour over blueberries and leave to cool. When cool, mash just a little bit with a fork but leave some blueberries whole.
Now make your ice cream.
Beat 6 egg yolks with 120g caster sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla paste in a bowl till thick and pale. Heat 300ml whole milk till just boiling – little bubbles on the edge. Pour over the egg mixture, whisking well as you go, till you have a nice smooth custard. Wipe the pan clean and pour the custard in. Heat through gently, stirring all the time. You mustn’t boil it or it will curdle. Just heat until it starts to thicken. If you coat the back of a spoon and run your finger through, it should leave a trail.
Pour the custard into a bowl and leave to get cold, stirring occasionally to stop a skin forming. You can speed up the process by putting the bowl in a larger bowl of cold water with ice.
Now lightly whip 300ml whipping cream until it just starts to hold shape. Fold into the custard and mix well. Now your ice cream mix is ready to go into an ice-cream maker. If you don’t have one, put in a container in the freezer and mix with a fork a couple of times as it’s setting. Remember you want to add the blueberries so don’t fully freeze your mix. But once it’s stiffening but you can still run a fork through it easily, add the blueberry compote (about half of given amount) spoon by spoon and carefully fork in, creating ripples in you can (if you’re using an ice-cream maker you’ll need to transfer to the container before you do this). You’ll see from my photo I wasn’t very effective at the ripples. But hey, give a girl a break – it was my first ripple ice cream!! (Looks like another excuse for more practice coming up here.) Now put the container in the freezer and leave to completely set.
It may not quite ripple in the way you’d expect, but it certainly tasted fantastic. Lovely creamy vanilla ice cream with a gorgeous, slightly tart blueberry ice running through and every so often a delightful little icy crunch of a whole blueberry that bursts in the mouth. Well, it may be grey outside on this July day, but a taste of this ice cream should put a sunny smile on your face!