Sunday, 22 May 2016
Last weekend summer hit the west coast of Ireland. I braved the sea for my first swim of the year, white pasty legs were on display everywhere and beach space was at a premium. I also successfully managed to consume my body weight in ice cream The full on continental temperatures may have receded a little but signs that summer is here are all about. Whilst on a little work trip to Cork I managed to find a few spare minutes to venture to the English Market where I bought an incredibly large quantity of sweet smelling Irish strawberries as well as what can only be described as a large sack of nectarines. And so on my return home, where the sun was trying to break through the clouds again, I set about making a strawberry and nectarine swirl ice cream.
This is following my trusted swiss meringue ice cream base which uses just egg whites to create a no churn ice cream mix, great for anyone that doesn’t have an ice cream maker or the time to whisk up a custard based ice cream mix every hour to stop those pesky large ice crystals forming in the mix!!This mixture contains a strawberry and nectarine syrup the you swirl through the final mixture to create a fruity, summery delight. The syrup does contain two slightly unusual ingredients but trust me it works. First off balsamic vinegar (just a little bit) is added and this really brings out the gorgeous sweetness of the strawberries and nectarines as well as providing a slightly sharp contrast to the sugary ice cream base. Then a little vodka is added to prevent the mixture freezing completely solid once added to the ice cream. I used Black Cow vodka in this recipe, which is an amazingly creamily smooth tasting vodka that is made using the whey from milk….so it seemed to be appropriate to add to this dairy delight…if you can’t get your hands on Black Cow (although it you like your vodka I recommend you try) any other vodka will work too.
For the syrup:
3 nectarines, diced
200g strawberries, diced
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon caster sugar
1 tablespoon vodka (I used Black Cow vodka, but any other vodka will be fine)
For the ice cream:
3 egg whites
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
310g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
320ml double cream
You will also need a sugar thermometer for this.
Begin by placing all of the ingredients for the syrup apart from the vodka into a medium saucepan, place over a medium heat until the mixture begins to bubble and then reduce the heat and allow the mixture to reduce to a sticky syrupy consistency. Once reduced remove from the heat and allow to cool then add the vodka to the mix.
While the fruit syrup in reducing but eh egg whites into a large clean cowl and whisk using an electric whisk until the egg whites start to look foamy. At this point add the cream of tartar and then continue to whisk until stiff peaks are formed…this is the point when you take the whisk out of the mixture and a peak of egg whites is left that doesn’t collapse.
Set the egg whites aside and place the sugar and water into a large saucepan. Swirl the mixture slightly to allow the sugar to dissolve into the water, but don’t stir the mixture. Place the pan over a medium heat and once the sugar has dissolved and the liquid is clear stick the thermometer into the mixture, raise the heat and allow the mixture to bubble quite rapidly until it reaches 112°C/234°F is reached.
Remove the sugar syrup from the heat and begin whisking the egg mixture again at a slow speed.
Very carefully begin to pour the sugar syrup into the egg white mix, continuing to beat the mixture the whole time. Once all of the syrup is added the mixture will look glossy and smooth but continue to beat the mixture for another 10 minutes until the meringue has cooled down to room temperature.
Now in a separate bowl place the cream and vanilla bean paste and whisk until the cream is thick and has doubled in size.
Add a third of the cream into the meringue mixture and gently fold in until combined. Continue adding the rest of the cream bit by bit until well combined by try not to over beat the mixture as some of the air will be lost from the mixture.
Transfer the ice cream mixture to a freezer proof container and place in the freezer for a couple of hours until it starts to firm up.
After a couple of hours remove the ice cream from the freezer and swirl through the cooled fruit syrup. I find it best to dollop big blobs of the syrup on top of the ice cream and then draw a swirly pattern across the ice cream with a fork to distribute the syrup throughout.
Return the mixture to the freezer for another couple of hours until fully set then tuck in and enjoy!