|Apricot Ripple Ice Cream|
I came up with this ice cream recipe after I bought some beautiful fresh apricots, the very first of the season. I love the taste of apricots, but I can't eat them raw because I have an aversion to the feel of their skin. A mild aversion, actually, compared to the way I feel about peach skin. I don't know if I'm the only person in the world with this affliction, but I cannot tolerate touching - or biting into - peach skin. Even writing about it brings up goosebumps on my arms and sends spiders skittering down the back of my neck. My hatred of the feel of peach skin (and, oddly enough, of the cone of raw wood just below the tip of a sharpened pencil) is so intense that I can't even watch someone else peeling or eating this most delicious fruit.
Naturally, anyone who knows this about me goes out of their way to sneak up behind me and rub a furry peach against my upper arm.
But back to the apricots. It's just as well that I don't eat them raw, because I do think that apricots are one of those fruits that just taste better lightly cooked, or dried, both of which processes bring out their beautiful astringency and perfume.
If you don't have an ice-cream maker, you can use the freeze-and-beat method.
Apricot Ripple Ice Cream
16 whole fresh apricots
½ cup (125 ml) white sugar
an 8-cm-long strip of fresh lemon zest
1½ cups (375 ml) water
1 Tbsp (15 ml) lemon juice
For the custard (crème anglaise):
1 cup (250 ml) cream
1 cup (250 ml) full-cream milk
½ cup (125 ml) caster sugar
6 large egg yolks
½ tsp (2.5 ml) pure vanilla extract
Put the whole apricots, sugar, lemon zest and water into a large saucepan and bring gently to the boil, stirring now and then to turn the apricots over. Cover, turn down the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the apricots have collapsed. Set aside and allow to cool. Stir in the lemon juice.
To make the custard, put the cream, milk and 2 T (30 ml) of the sugar into a saucepan and bring gently to just below the boil (watch the mixture like a hawk). In the meantime, using a whisk, beat the remaining sugar and the egg yolks in a large bowl until pale and creamy. Stir in the vanilla. Put the hot cream/milk mixture into a jug and pour it, in a steady stream, over the eggs, stirring vigorously as you do so. Strain the mixture back into the pan, turn the temperature right down, and reheat it very gently, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. The mixture will begin to thicken slightly within a few minutes. To check whether it is done, coat the back of your wooden spoon with the custard and draw your finger across it. If the channel created by your fingertip remains open, or closes reluctantly, the custard is ready.
Do not, whatever you do, allow the custard to come anywhere near boiling point, as it will curdle and you'll have to turf out the lot.
Remove the custard from the heat, cover its surface with a piece of clingfilm to prevent a skin forming, and allow to cool to room temperature.
Place a metal or glass dish in the freezer. Set a large sieve over another bowl and into it tip the apricot mixture. Using the back of a soup ladle, stir and press down on the mixture, until all you have left in the sieve is the pips and bits of skin. (This is a little laborious, so turn on the music and take your time about it!).
Measure out half a cup (125 ml) of the apricot purée and set aside. Stir the remaining purée into the cooled custard and mix well. Place in the fridge to chill.
If you're using an ice cream maker, churn the mixture until firm and creamy. Tip into the bowl you placed in the freezer earlier and swirl the purée you set aside over the surface. Now gently 'ripple' it into the icecream, using a metal spoon, so it forms little seams of apricot. Cover and freeze until quite firm.
If you're using the freeze-and-beat method, ripple the reserved purée into the ice cream, as described above, about two-thirds of the way through the freezing process, or before the mixture becomes too stiff to stir easily.
Serves 6-8 as a dessert