Smooth, creamy and luscious…nothing beats a
homemade ice cream!
I really love the summer, but as the days get longer with clear blue skies and long, hot, sticky nights, the intense heat can sometimes be a little too much to bear. At times like these we need to find some refreshing, delicious ways to us cool down and a frozen ice cream is very tempting and often hits the point.
At our restaurants, we always have a good variety of rich ice creams and sorbets in our freezers as they compliment nearly all our desserts. Everyday we churn them in our sorbet machine or something called a pacojet, and the advantages of using an electric or hand-cranked machine is that the final result will normally be smoother and creamier with that fabulous silky texture of freshly made ice cream. So if you are lucky enough to have an ice cream machine, making your own ice cream can be fun and incredibly simple.
Off course people have been making ice creams far longer than the invention of electricity, so there’s no reason why you can’t make ice cream and sorbets at home without a machine. A wonderful alternative is Semifreddo. An Italian dessert which literally means "half cold". Its a bit like a cheat’s ice cream really and you don’t have to make a custard base or churn it smooth in an ice cream maker, you simply combine beaten eggs, whipped cream and your flavouring and freeze it. In my book, that makes it the perfect make-ahead dinner-party dessert.
Other frozen delights include Granita and the French classic “parfait”. Literally meaning perfect, it was given this name, because the balance of its ingredients is very important. Only the perfect equilibrium between sugar, liquid, fat and solid parts allows the attaining of that smooth texture typical of parfait. For an impressive, yet easy and budget-friendly dessert, why not whip up a granita? These ices are a mixture of water, sugar and flavouring. They are grainy in texture and are frozen in a shallow container in the freezer. The goal when making granita is to create coarse granular crystals or flakes of ice; you are not trying to create a smooth mixture such as a sorbet, which is made in an ice cream maker. They develop the characteristically large ice crystals as the mixture is stirred with a fork several times during freezing. Almost any fresh fruit can be juiced and made into granitas, so have fun and create your own frozen delights.
Ice lollies and popsicles are another great option, and the truth is whether you’re 8 or 80, you’re always the perfect age to enjoy a lovely ice lolly but if you take just a little time to make them yourselves at home, they can also be a healthy, thirst-quenching snack. There are endless possibilities and you can pack them full of your favourite fruits, or make them creamier with the addition of coconut milk or low fat yoghurt. If you’re feeling a little bit devilish, why not pop some alcohol into them for an adults-only treat at the end of a hot summer’s day?
Preparing these ice creams is the easiest thing in the world and all you’ll need is some Popsicle moulds, a few sticks, and a blender. You can be as creative as you want and try different flavour combinations and you can also freeze savoury favourites such as gazpacho! Try these simple recipes at home and…just chill!
Raspberry, rosewater & coconut lollies
Prep time: 10 minutes, plus freezing
Ingredients makes 10
300g of raspberries
2 tbsp of icing sugar
2 tbsp water
250ml of coconut milk
2-3 drops of rosewater to taste
Place the raspberries and water in a blender with the icing sugar and pulse. Add the coconut milk and blend until smooth. Add the rosewater to taste and sieve the mixture into a jug, discarding the pips. Pour into sections of a lolly mould tray or into individual lolly moulds. Add the sticks or lids and freeze overnight until firm. Run the moulds under hot water to loosen the lollies, then remove from the moulds. Serve immediately
Cheats banana, honey, passion fruit & Ginger ice cream
Ingredients serves 4
5 very ripe bananas, peeled, cut into thick slices
3-4 tbsp honey
150ml Thick Greek-style yoghurt
Pulp & seeds from 2 passion fruits
½ teaspoon of freshly grated ginger
Spread the banana slices out on a tray and transfer to the freezer.
Leave the banana in the freezer until frozen all the way through
(about 2-3 hours). Place the frozen banana slices into a food processor.
Add the ginger, honey, passion fruit and yoghurt. Turn on the processor and blend until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Serve immediately.
Vanilla-Yoghurt parfait with spiced cherries
Ingredients Serves 4
400g thick natural (Greek-style) yoghurt
50g icing sugar, sifted
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
Place the cream in a bowl and whisk until soft peaks form. Fold through the yoghurt, icing sugar and vanilla until well combined. Pour into small moulds or glasses and freeze for at least two hours. Serve with warm spiced cherries.
400g cherries, washed & stoned
a pinch of ground cinnamon
1 star anise
2 cardamom pods
10g corn flour
Place the cherries in a saucepan with the spices. Add the sugar and water then bring to the boil. Turn the heat down to simmer and cook for a further 5 minutes, removing any froth that rises to the surface. Mix the Kirsch and corn flour to a smooth paste and stir into the cherries. Bring back to the boil and then remove from the heat. Remove the star anise and cardamom pods.
LIMONCELLO SEMIFREDDO with raspberries
Ingredients serves 6
100g caster sugar
4 egg yolks
200ml cream, whipped to soft peaks
1/2 lemon, juice only
For the raspberry sauce
icing sugar, to taste
To serve 15-20 fresh raspberries
For the Semifreddo:
Heat the water and sugar in a saucepan to dissolve the sugar but don’t boil.
Put the egg yolks into a bowl and pour the sugar and water mixture over the eggs. Whisk until the mixture cools by which time you should have a thick custard. Add the limoncello and lemon juice to the egg mixture. Gently fold in the cream and the fresh raspberries. Pour into a terrine mould, cover with cling film and freeze until set. (3-4 hours or overnight).
For the raspberry sauce: Blend the raspberries and icing sugar in a food processor and pass through a fine sieve.
To serve, remove the semifreddo from the freezer and slice into portions. Serve immediately with fresh raspberries & raspberry sauce.