Like most kids growing up, the ice cream flavours I knew were decadent chocolate, comforting vanilla and delightful strawberry. Birthdays and special occasions meant that we could all share one giant tub (a whopping 1.5 litres) of Neopolitan – of which we would proceed to dive our faces and grimy tiny hands into. These ice cream flavours were also a perfect reflection of how simple our lives were; easily ranked from good (vanilla), better (strawberry), best (chocolate)! And when living in a ridiculously hot and humid climate, a cool decadent treat is everything you dream of.
As an adult, now, I rarely settle for just chocolate, vanilla or strawberry. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with those classics. It’s just knowing what’s out there – the exotic (think burrata, ube, durian), intriguing (Marmite ice cream anyone?) and even strange (wasabi, gorgonzola cheese), that makes my tastebuds tremble with excitement.
My ice cream flavour obsession of late has been Earl Grey, Hazelnut and Brandy Apple Pie, made by that awesome local creamery Ice Cream Cookie Co. Alas, due to the on-going #circuitbreaker (semi lockdown), there has been a dearth of available flavours from said brand (their production line was suspended due to the government’s directive 2 weeks ago). And I do love a good tea-based ice cream. Earl Grey is also my preferred tea of choice.
As with most things these days, when a craving hits, and there are no commercial options, make it! I’m not particularly fond of making ice cream because I’ve only ever made it less than 10 times in my life and most times, the ice crystals were a little too big, so it was like creamy slush. But I’m a huge believer of “if you fail once, twice, thrice, just try again!”. So off I went. I used a recipe from David Lebovitz (he’s one of my foodie heroes. Most of my young adult days were spent drooling over his blogposts about dreamy Paris and amazing rustic Parisian food. He’s also got a reputation for really solid, reliable ice-cream recipes (‘The Perfect Scoop’ is a must-have. I had a copy even though I never made much ice-cream). If you have an ice-cream maker, great, and if you don’t – just churn it by hand every hour.
There are many variations of ice-cream but my favourite is still the French custard style with its generous portion of egg yolks. The rich, velvety texture is worth it. But make sure you don’t take your eye off the pot when waiting for the custard to thicken. For me, it took all of 4 mins.
Feel free to taste the finished mixture at this point and see if you’d like to add more orange flavour. Then into the fridge it goes for further chilling before the churning begins.
If you forsee making ice-cream on the regular, I would suggest investing in a machine with a decent motor. The one I used is about 2-years old and I’ve only used it two other times and both times it got stuck half-way because the outer rim formed a hard layer, blocking the paddle. With both fingers and toes crossed, I was hoping that it would run smoothly this time. It was not to be. The motor on the machine got overheated and stopped turning 30 mins so…I got a really good arm workout.
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar (I used demerara sugar for a nice slightly caramel flavour
- A pinch of salt (Maldon sea salt is my preferred)
- 1/4 cup loose Earl Grey tea (or contents of 6 Earl Grey Tea bags)
- Finely grated zest of 4 medium oranges (I only had 1 orange, so I added 1/2 tsp orange oil on top of the zest)
- 5 large egg yolks
- In a medium saucepan, mix 1 cup of the cream with the milk, sugar, and a pinch of salt. Warm the cream mixture over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and tiny bubbles begin to form around the edge of the pan, 3 to 4 minutes.
- Stir in the tea leaves and orange zest. Cover, remove from the heat, and let sit for 1 hour. Taste and let sit longer if you want a stronger flavour.
- Prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl with several inches of ice water. Set a smaller metal bowl (one that holds at least 1-1/2 quarts) in the ice water. Pour the remaining cup of cream into the inner bowl (this helps the custard cool quicker when you pour it in later). Set a fine strainer on top. Whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl.
- Rewarm the cream mixture over medium-high heat until tiny bubbles begin to form around the edge of the pan, 1 to 2 minutes. In a steady stream, pour half of the warm cream mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly to prevent the eggs from curdling.
- Pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heatproof rubber spatula until the custard thickens slightly (it should be thick enough to coat the spatula and hold a line drawn through it with a finger), 4 to 8 minutes. An instant-read thermometer should read 79°C to 82°C at this point. Don’t let the sauce overheat or boil, or it will curdle. Immediately strain the custard into the cold cream in the ice bath. Press firmly on the tea leaves and orange zest in the strainer with the spatula to extract as much flavour as possible.
- Cool the custard to below 21°C by stirring it over the ice bath. Refrigerate the custard until completely chilled, at least 4 hours. Then freeze the custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Transfer the just-churned ice cream to an air-tight container, and freeze for at least 4 hours or up to 2 weeks.
I had some for breakfast (oh no don’t you pretend you’ve never had ice-cream for breakfast?) and lunch, and I’m about to have some more. It’s almost half gone as Ciaran and Daryl both loves it. Looks like this recipe is going to our McAlea recipe box!