Last August, I bought L a train set of a birthday present: an ice cream maker which he still hasn’t managed to get his hands on. It has been going non-stop. We’re not great ice cream eaters in general. Or rather, we never thought of ourselves as such. But all through last summer, our raspberries ended up in the contraption, becoming the most delicious, most gloriously scarlet sorbet ever.
As the days drew in and the thermometer went down, I thought the ice cream maker could be put in storage but no: once you get used to having your own sweet concoctions in the freezer – light things with little sugar and semi-skimmed milk (though not always…) – it’s difficult to stop experimenting.
The ice cream maker is of the inexpensive type, where you keep the bowl in the freezer, ready for use. I can make about 700-800g of ice cream or sorbet before the sludge threatens to ooze out beneath the lid when the beater gets going. My latest triumph is ginger.
Fresh ginger – a cube about 2.5 cm
Sugar – about 4 tbsp
Egg yolks – 3 or 4
Sugar – 4 tbps
Whipping cream – 3oo ml
Semi-skimmed milk – 300 ml
Cinnamon – a good shake
Mince the ginger very finely, put it in a small saucepan with two tbsp sugar and cover it with water (about 100 ml or maybe a little more) then boil this up, stirring, for ten minutes or so to make a zingy syrup – and, coincidentally, deactivate the protease in the ginger which would otherwise curdle the milk in the next phase. Strain the ginger-flavoured syrup through a small sieve, adding the syrup to the milk. Shake some cinnamon into the milk and heat it up but don’t allow it to boil.
In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks and one tbsp of sugar very well. When the milk is almost too hot to stick a finger in – but not boiling – pour in the egg and sugar mix, put the milk back over a very, very low flame, and continue stirring/whisking for hardly any time at all until you obtain a thin custard. (There’s a very good chance that your custard will curdle despite all your efforts: if so, remove it from the heat, plunge the saucepan into a bowl of cold water, and beat it hard with a whisk or a stick blender.)
Once you have your custard, set it aside to cool (plunging the saucepan into a bowl of cold water, then changing the water frequently will help). Whip the cream until it’s fairly stiff, and keep it cool in the fridge.
Put the minced ginger into a small saucepan with one tbsp of sugar, just cover it with water (about 100 ml) and let it simmer until the water has evaporated and you have a sticky, gingery molten toffee. Scrape it out on to a piece of greaseproof paper. Then put another piece of greaseproof paper on top, and press the toffee down until it’s a thin flat sheet. Allow it to cool and harden.
When everything’s cold, fold the custard into the whipped cream and pour this mixture into the ice cream maker. Switch the thing on. Peel the greaseproof paper off the gingery toffee, break it up into tiny pieces and drop them into the ice cream mix (my – I mean L’s – ice cream maker has a hole in the lid to do this through: if yours doesn’t, you’ll have to stop the thing, remove the lid, and sprinkle the toffee pieces around). Then continue beating the ice cream until it’s ready to go into the freezer.
© Anne Hanley, 2011.