panforte ice cream
I remember my mother making homemade ice cream when I was a kid. We had an old wooden hand crank machine that used ice and rock salt packed around a metal canister. These cooling agents worked on the cream and sugar inside to create a deliciously dreamy frozen dessert. She usually made good old-fashioned vanilla from a recipe my great-grandfather used in his restaurant in Santa Barbara. He eventually sold that recipe to a large commercial ice cream manufacturer. The recipe consisted of a lot of cream, sugar, and more cream. It was sinful and could be dangerous for those of us without the metabolism of our youth.
Ice cream is, by any definition, a crowd pleaser. I have never known anyone who does not like it’s refreshing sweetness. It is sort of iconic and part of American tradition, closely identified with carefree summer days, swimsuits and happy children. Recently, ice cream has become a medium for interesting, if not occasionally strange flavors and ingredients. It is a blank canvas ready and waiting for some creative innovation. From vanilla to bacon and in some circumstances even garlic, this dessert is the vehicle for many enticing flavors that I simply can’t wait to try. In David Lebovitz’s book, “The Perfect Scoop” he spends hundreds of pages introducing us to intriguing and mouth-watering flavors like Aztec Cinnamon-Chocolate, Basil, or the one I can not wait to try, Chocolate Fudge Swirl Peanut Butter. He includes recipes for sorbet, granita and frozen yogurt with equally interesting flavor profiles. This could become one of the most useful books I own.
Panforte Ice Cream
David Lebovitz (recipe from Ici in Berkeley)
makes 1 quart
- 1 cup half and half
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon finely grated nutmeg
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 4 large egg yolks
- 3 tablespoons full-flavored honey (I forgot to add this and the ice cream was still super sweet and delicious.)
- 1/4 cup mixed candied citrus peel (see following recipe), chopped into small pieces
- 1/2 cup almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
- Warm the half and half and spices in a medium saucepan. Cover and remove from the heat, and let steep at room temperature for 30 minutes.
- Rewarm the spice-infused mixture. Pour the cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolk mixture back into the saucepan.
- Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and mix it into the cream. Discard the cinnamon stick. Stir the custard until cool over an ice bath. While it’s cooling, warm the honey in a small saucepan, then stir it into the custard.
- Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. During the last few minutes of churning, add the candied citrus peel and almonds.
Candied Citrus Peel
makes about 1 cup
For the ice cream recipe as is, you’ll only need 1/4 cup of this stuff, but it might be worth it to make at least a half recipe. I could not keep myself from eating it before it went into the ice cream. You’ll be happy you have a little extra.
- 4 large oranges, preferably unsprayed
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
- Pinch of salt
- With a vegetable peeler, remove strips of peel 1 inch wide from the oranges, cutting lengthwise down the fruit. Remove just the colorful outer peel, leaving behind the bitter white pith. Using a very sharp chef’s knife, slice the peel length wise into very thin strips no wider than a toothpick.
- Put the strips of peel in a small, nonreactive saucepan, add enough water to cover them by a few inches, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a gentle boil and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, strain the peel, and rinse with fresh water.
- Combine the 2 cups water, sugar, corn syrup, and salt in the saucepan. Fit the pan with a candy thermometer and bring to a boil. Add the blanched peel, reduce the heat and cook at a very low boil for about 25 minutes, until the thermometer reads 230 F. Turn off the heat and let the peel cool in the syrup.
- Once cool, lift the peel out of the syrup with a fork, letting the excess syrup drain away.
NOTE: If you do not have a candy thermometer, simply cook the peel until most of the liquid has boiled away and the fine threads are shiny and translucent.