Well, you may be asking, What is the Single Gourmet Traveller doing making ice cream after all that complaint of autumnal cold and wind and rain? But of course you know how I love ice cream and if you can imagine adding that warming, sweet and exotic spice called cinnamon to a scrumptious and delightfully decadent rich ice cream … well, then you have found yourself a little bit of gastronomic heaven. Cinnamon is almost a bit of autumn in itself, that earthy ochre-brown colour just like a falling leaf; its smell sweet and woody. Now are you feeling warmer?
Cinnamon and apples are such a classic combination – a sprinkling of cinnamon added to apple pies, apple cake or apple chutney – that I thought some nicely hot caramelised apples at the side of the ice cream would make a fabulous dessert.
I wasn’t sure how much cinnamon to add to a basic ice cream mixture and, remembering a disastrous lavender ice cream I attempted in the summer when my lavender was in full and glorious bloom but I added far too much to my mix (hence it never made its way on to the blog), I decided I should seek expert advice. And who better than Delia? I scoured my usual favourites but then suddenly though, Delia! Sure enough, I found exactly what I was looking for.
For the ice cream you’ll need: 6 large egg yolks, 100g caster sugar, 2 teaspoons custard powder, 570ml (1 pint) whole milk, 1 stick cinnamon, 1 level teaspoon cinnamon powder, and 300ml double cream.
Put the egg yolks, sugar and custard powder in a bowl and whisk until thick and pale. In case you’re wondering, Why custard powder?, this is to stabilise the custard mixture when you heat it so it’s less likely to separate. If you don’t have any – and I had to rush out to my local Tesco when I got my pack down from a top shelf and discovered its use-by date was March 2011 – it’s basically cornflour, so you could use that instead.
Meanwhile, put the milk, cinnamon stick and ground cinnamon in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Then slowly whisk it into the egg mixture till you have a nice thin custard. Now return the mixture to a clean saucepan and stir over a gentle heat until it thickens. Pour it into a bowl to cool, stirring occasionally to stop a skin forming. Once cool, cover with cling film, putting it directly on the surface of the custard to prevent a skin forming and then put it into the fridge for preferably a few hours to chill. Then, whip the double cream until the soft peak stage and fold gently into the custard until well blended. Remove the cinnamon stick. Now transfer to an ice-cream maker and churn for about 20 minutes till nice and thick but still soft enough to spoon easily.
If you don’t have an ice-cream maker you can put it straight into a freezer container and stir it a few times while freezing. It will still taste good but not have the same smooth velvety texture.
Close to the time when you want to serve the ice cream, start preparing the apples.
For 1 or 2 people: peel and core an apple and cut into slices. Heat about a dessertspoon of butter and a dessertspoon of caster sugar in a small frying pan, swirling it round carefully to mix as the butter melts. When it starts bubbling, add the apple slices and, turning occasionally, cook until nicely browned and caramelised.
Carefully lift the apple slices out and place on a serving plate, leaving as much caramel as you can in the pan. Then pour in a little single cream and stir to make a creamy caramel sauce. Now get your frozen ice cream out of the freezer (if you made it well in advance then get it out earlier, about 20 mins, to soften a bit). Spoon a ball of the cinnamon ice cream onto the serving plate with the apple. If you have a little bowl, as in my photo, to put the ice cream in, that’s a nice touch. Now spoon a little of the creamy caramel sauce over the apple.
And now … enjoy!!