Ice Cream Three Ways

An Ode to the Great British Summer

It's pouring down with rain as I write this; the first break in a weeks-long heatwave that has left our entire country reeling. I know we Brits are known for nattering about the weather, but it just gives us so much to talk about! This week I finally gave in to the heat and searched through the cupboards until I found the old Philips Delizia ice cream churn that served me so well through my childhood.

The exciting thing about making your own ice cream is that the possibilities are endless. Chocolate? Easy. That amazing brownie and popping candy combo you had once whilst on holiday and have never been able to find again? Done. That unholy combination of gummy sweets that the child within you has always dreamed of having in a dessert? Why not! Once you have your basic ice cream perfected, you can adjust it to accommodate whatever flavours you desire, or surprise your loved ones with tailor-made favourites. Here are three recipes that I'm loving at the moment—two require a churn, but one doesn't. And though it certainly makes it easier, a churn is in no way imperative to making ice cream, so don't be put off if you don't have one.

Classic Vanilla Ice Cream

Vanilla, in my opinion, is a criminally misused flavour. The fact that this exotic, delicately fragranced bean is now a synonym for 'boring' is a travesty, and something I hope can be corrected with time and proper use. This ice cream uses a whole fresh vanilla bean pod, which can feel a little pricey in comparison to a bottle of the liquid extract, but I promise you it's worth it. Plus, once you've scraped the pod clean of all its gorgeous, flavoursome seeds, you can dunk the soft remains of the pod into a tub of caster sugar, keep the whole lot sealed for a week or so, and you'll have a pot of home made vanilla sugar!

Ingredients:

  • 4 large egg yolks, at room temp.
  • 70g caster sugar
  • 200ml whole milk
  • 125ml double cream
  • 1 whole vanilla pod

Method:

  1. Separate the eggs, and put the yolks in a large mixing bowl. Add the caster sugar, and whisk until pale, blended and fluffy.
  2. On a chopping board, split the vanilla pod in half lengthways, then use a small knife to scrape out the seeds. Both the pod and the seeds are a very dark brown/black colour, so if you're having trouble seeing the difference have a check with your phone torch to ensure you haven't missed vast swathes of those precious seeds!
  3. Add the seeds to the yolk and sugar mix , and whisk until they're fully mixed in. Keeping your eggs at room temperature helps the vanilla flavour to incorporate.
  4. Slowly add the cream, whisking as you go. Once the cream is fully incorporated, do the same with the milk.
  5. If you have an ice cream churn, tip the mixture first into a jug for easy pouring, then into the machine, and churn for as long as your machine requires. Once finished churning, store in a tub in the freezer. If you're making it without a machine, pour the liquid straight into a freezer-proof tub, and put in the freezer. After 30 minutes, take it out, and mix it around with a fork. Continue this process every 30 minutes until the ice cream reaches the consistency you're looking for.

Fresh Strawberry Ice Cream

Childhood in a scoop. Who doesn't love fresh strawberries? Actually don't answer that, I have one friend who describes their flavour as 'old man farts', so if you're in that camp, maybe skip this recipe. I, however, adore these plump, bright, shiny berries. I picked mine fresh from a Pick Your Own (a super cheap way of getting seasonal fruits!), admittedly buying them from a supermarket is usually fine, but avoid when not in season, and maybe have a nibble on one first to check that they're as sweet as you'd like.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 70g caster sugar
  • 200ml whole milk
  • 125ml double cream
  • 500g whole strawberries

Method:

  1. Hull the strawberries (remove the leafy tops and white cores), and press them through a sieve into a bowl, to catch the juice. If the berries are soft and seasonal, you should be able to keep them whole- otherwise, simply chop them up a bit before you put them in the sieve! Set the juice aside.
  2. Separate the eggs, and put the yolks in a large mixing bowl. Add the caster sugar, and whisk until pale, blended and fluffy.
  3. Slowly add the cream, whisking as you go. Once the cream is fully incorporated, do the same with the milk.
  4. Pour the strawberry juice into the ice cream mix, and don't worry if a few seeds have got in. Whisk until combined.
  5. If you have an ice cream churn, tip the mixture into your machine, and churn for as long as your machine requires. Once finished churning, store in a tub in the freezer. If you're making it without a machine, pour the liquid straight into a freezer-proof tub, and put in the freezer. After 30 minutes, take it out, and mix it around with a fork. Continue this process every 30 minutes until the ice cream reaches the consistency you're looking for.

Ricotta Honey Ice Cream

This ice cream is a total departure from the norm, much like this year's summer weather! Instead of the classic egg, sugar and cream base, this ice cream is made entirely from ricotta. The texture is thicker, more cheesecake-like, and it's egg and refined sugar free. Try and use a nice, rich honey for this recipe, as you really want the flavours to come through. I used a really gorgeous Scottish heather honey, but if you're unsure, try a thick honey that is labelled as rich, wild, or floral. I made my own ricotta for this recipe, but I don't expect everyone to have the same weird, adventurous kitchen tendencies I do! I've written out the recipe for the ricotta (super simple, in case you're worried!), but I would never judge you for just buying it.

Ingredients:

  • 250g Ricotta
  • 100ml milk
  • 100ml double cream
  • 2 tbsp floral honey
  • dash of lemon juice (if using shop bought ricotta)
  • pinch of salt

Method:

  1. Tip your ricotta into a food processor, and whiz until smooth (homemade ricotta may need a few pulses to get it to a nice consistency, whereas shop bought smooths out faster).
  2. Add the milk, and pulse till combined. Repeat with the cream.
  3. Pour in your honey and once incorporated, taste the mixture to see if it needs the addition of the lemon juice or salt. It'll depend on the flavour of the honey you use, and also on personal taste. If you're unsure, add a little of both.
  4. Decant the mixture into a freezer-proof container and freeze for two hours, or for as long as you can bear before tucking into it!

Ricotta

Use this super easy homemade cheese as an ice cream base, in a cheesecake, or even in pasta! The process seems a little strange but it's really very easy, and after you're done you can tell people that in your spare time recently you've been making your own cheese- what a conversation starter!

Ingredients:

  • 1.5L whole milk
  • 200ml double cream
  • pinch of flaky salt
  • the juice of one lemon

Method:

  1. Pour the milk, cream and salt into a heavy bottomed saucepan, over a very low heat.
  2. Bring very slowly to the boil, stirring gently along the bottom of the pan to ensure the milk doesn't start to burn.
  3. Once the milk is boiling, throw in the lemon juice and turn off the heat immediately! Keep stirring, you'll see the mixture begin to separate into white solids, and a clear-ish liquid.
  4. Set a sieve lined with wet fabric over a very large bowl (cheesecloth or muslin is recommended, but I used a piece of old curtain lining and it worked just fine!), and pour the contents of the pan into the sieve. Pretty much immediately the liquid will begin to drain away, and you'll be left with the solids (your ricotta!), held in your cloth-lined sieve. Leave to finish draining, for about an hour, then transfer the solid ricotta into tub, and leave in the fridge to firm up. 
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