With rain and a 10 degree drop in temperature today, we’re sadly coming towards the end of the ice cream season. However, not quite yet (does the ice cream season ever really end!) and I’d bought some peaches the other day and left them to fully ripen ready to make into ice cream. I’ve been thinking of turning peaches ‘n’ cream into ice cream for a while. I love peaches and eat lots of them throughout the summer. One thinks of peaches and cream being very English as the typical complexion of an English woman is said to be like ‘peaches and cream’, but in fact they didn’t reach us until the 17th century although they were first cultivated in China in 2000BCE. Their botanical name Prunus persica suggests they came from Persia, but they didn’t reach Persia (modern day Iran) and then Greece until about 300BCE. Whatever their history, their sweet, fragrant flavour is the taste of summer for me.
This recipe was a bit of an experiment (which fortunately turned out very well). I used my basic vanilla ice cream recipe and then blended the skinned, ripe peaches to a ‘smoothie’ consistency. A few recipes I found suggested mixing the peach puree into a sugar syrup but I didn’t want to lose their fresh flavour so I just added a little lemon juice and sugar.
First, however, I made the custard so it could cool down. I whisked together 4 egg yolks, 150g caster sugar, 1 level teaspoon cornflour (to stabilise the mixture when cooking) and 1 level teaspoon vanilla extract paste until thick and pale in colour. I brought 300ml milk just to the boil and slowly poured it into the egg mixture, whisking as I went. Then you need to transfer this to a clean pan and slowly heat, stirring all the time, until the custard is thick and coats the back of a wooden spoon so that when you run a finger through it, it leaves a clear trail. Transfer to a bowl and leave to cool. When it’s cold, whisk 150ml whipping cream until starting to thicken and fold into the custard. Now prepare your peaches.
I used 5 peaches that weighed almost 600g with their skin and stones. Cut in half and remove the stones and skin – if they are really ripe, as they should be, the skin should peel off easily. Cut them into quarters and put into a bowl. Add a good squeeze of lemon and a couple of tablespoons of caster sugar. Blend to a puree with a hand blender. Check to see if the mixture is sweet enough and add more sugar if necessary – the natural sweetness will, of course, depend on your peaches. Now fold the puree into the custard. I reckoned they were pretty equal in volume.
Taste again to check the sweetness and if it’s good, then you are ready to go with the ice-cream maker. My machine is quite small so I had to do it in two batches. When nicely churned into a gorgeous thick, creamy consistency transfer to freezer containers and put in the freezer until needed.
If you this make well ahead of eating the ice cream you will need to take it from the freezer for a few minutes to soften a little before serving. I served mine with a slice of peach on top to make it look prettier and a cantucci at the side; a cantucci because I was given a pack at Tinello on Tuesday and theirs are the most wonderful I know and a nice accompaniment to ice cream as well as the usual vin santo.
It tasted so good. The blend of the lovely vanilla ice cream with the sweet, perfumed peaches was a perfect match. Autumn may be blowing its way in with wind and rain but I’m going to keep a little bit of summer in my freezer with this ice cream for a while and a gorgeous scoop will bring some sunshine to any day.