Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Plum Ripple Ice Cream

Do you ever have those moments when you know with crystal clarity that you're doing exactly the right thing at exactly the right time? Walking home with the first bunch of daffodils on a cold, sunny day in early Spring; taking your first sip of Pimm's, on a lawn, in heels; crunching through Autumn leaves in corduroy and tweed as the air turns crisp and nippy for the first time. When you realize that, with consummate skill, you've reached the train platform precisely 10 seconds before the train arrives. Moments which are elusive but exquisitely satisfying, as if you've finally, finally worked out how this life thing works.

But the flipside of this feeling is the sudden, shattering realisation that your timing is totally off. Looking around you on a rainy day at a sea of sensible boots, when you're in summer sandals. Booking an outside table when you know in your heart and in your goose pimples that it's really not warm enough yet. Ordering a heavy sticky toffee pudding in the middle of summer. Although, given the type of summer we've had, that isn't always a such a problem. 

Today's recipe was a prime example of something delicious, but just not quite right. We had a punnet of plums to finish and because we love making ice creams, making a puree and rippling it through some vanilla seemed like the obvious choice. But the thing is that we made it two weeks ago, and it's taken this long for me to take an "after" photo - because we just haven't been eating it. At this time of year, I want my puddings hot and sticky and this delicate, fresh, fruity little ice cream just wasn't going to cut it.

Of course, dear reader, you're much cleverer than I am and you will already have spotted the solution. Plum ripple ice cream can work perfectly ALONGSIDE the hot, oozey puddings - as our scraped-out bowls of chocolate fondant with plum ripple will testify. The order of the universe is restored, ice cream is back on the menu and in our bellies. 

Besides, how else are we going to preserve all autumn's bounty for the coming months? It's practically Harvest Festival time. I may not be filling up a shoe box with tins (or, as my mum used to add, miniatures of booze - reasoning that old people would rather get whisky than spaghetti hoops) but this ice cream kick could be the way of the future. Better than a stale old loaf of bread shaped like a wheatsheaf, anyway. Or as my school served us, sliced white. Times were tough in the 90s, all right? 

Plum Ripple Ice Cream
This basic recipe for vanilla ice cream is the same as the one I used for Stracciatella, which comes from the Ben and Jerry ice cream book.

Vanilla Ice Cream

- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup of caster sugar
- 2 cups of double or whipping cream
- 1 cup of milk
- a teaspoon of vanilla bean paste

Plum Ripple

- six plums, stoned and roughly chopped
- 15g of caster or icing sugar (this was a guess, so feel free to add more or less depending on how sweet your plums are)
- squeeze of lemon juice

First, make the plum ripple by gently heating the plums, lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan for about ten to fifteen minutes, or until the plums have turned to mush. Blend in a food processor until smooth, then leave the purée to cool down. We put ours in the fridge to get good and chilly.

Whisk the eggs in a large mixing bowl (or freestanding mixer) for about 2 minutes or until very light and fluffy. Keep whisking while you gradually add the sugar, then whisk the whole thing for another couple of minutes until totally blended. Pour in the cream, milk and vanilla, whisk again, then transfer to an ice cream maker and churn. This one really appreciates a long churning time - it's in the final few minutes that air is incorporated, making the final ice cream light and soft - so give it a good 25 minutes. 

Once the ice cream has finished churning, slop it into a big Tupperware and dollop spoonfuls of the plum purée on top. Swirl the fruit into the ice cream two or three times, then transfer to the freezer.

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