No longer is ice cream a summertime treat; people are now making and eating it year-round. In fact, the per capita consumption of ices is similar in Italy and the UK. Here are five favourite recipes to make in the comfort of your kitchen, and only two of them require an ice cream machine. Making ices yourself means that you know exactly what ingredients go into them. And, best of all, they are considerably cheaper than the bought ones.
1. Chocolate gelato
Made as a true gelato – without cream – this has a rich, clean chocolate flavour. The sugar level is as low as possible so if you have a very sweet tooth add sugar, a tablespoon at a time. Requires ice cream machine.
3 tbsp cocoa powder (unsweetened)
85g unrefined granulated sugar
5 egg yolks
100g chocolate (85 per cent cocoa solids)
In a small bowl combine the cocoa powder and half the sugar. Pour in enough of the measured milk to form a thin paste. In a separate bowl beat together the egg yolks and the remaining sugar until pale yellow. Set aside.
Bring the rest of the milk to a boil then add the hot milk to the cocoa and sugar blend, whisking all the while, before returning the blend to the pan. Bring the cocoa mixture slowly to simmering point then simmer gently for 6 minutes. This removes the powdery taste of the cocoa powder.
Pour the cocoa, sugar and milk blend into the egg yolk and sugar mixture, very slowly, whisking briskly all the time. When mixed, return the mixture to the pan. Stir and bring the mix to a temperature of 85C.
Remove from the heat and plunge the base of the pan into cold water for a couple of minutes to stop the temperature rising.
Now break the chocolate into small pieces and whisk into the hot chocolate mix until completely dissolved. Once the custard has cooled, cover and chill in the fridge.
When ready, freeze according to the ice cream machine instructions.
2. The Prince of Wales sugar ice cream
You can make this with ordinary brown unrefined demerara sugar, light soft brown or dark muscovado; we always use Billington’s sugar. However, it must be soft, not hard.
85g unrefined brown sugar
500ml whipping cream
In a bowl start whisking the cream and slowly adding the sugar.
Whip until it will hold stiff peaks, then quickly scrape into a freezer box. Gently knock the box on a work surface. This will remove pockets of air in the ice cream. Cover with freezer film or greaseproof paper and a lid, then freeze overnight and preferably for at least three days to let the flavour develop.
3. Green tea ice cream
Green tea has become very popular in the past decade. Here we have created a lighter ice cream that allows the drink’s fresh qualities to come through. Requires ice cream machine.
300ml whole milk
4 green tea teabags (good quality)
100g unrefined granulated sugar
3 egg yolks
250ml whipping/heavy cream
Measure the milk into a jug and suspend the teabags in it, making sure that they are submerged. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
The following day, squeeze all the liquid from the teabags back into the milk, discard the bags and bring the milk to just below boiling point.
Combine the milk and half the sugar in a saucepan (not aluminium) and bring to just below boiling point. Meanwhile, in a heatproof bowl, combine the egg yolks with the remaining sugar and beat, preferably with an electric hand whisk, until the mixture is pale and thick.
Bring the milk back to boiling point, then pour it slowly in a thin stream on to the egg yolks and sugar, whisking steadily.
Return custard to the saucepan. Stir with a small non-metallic spoon or spatula until it reaches 85C. Over direct heat this will take about 8-10 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and plunge the base into a few inches of cold water. Leave to cool, stirring occasionally.
When ready, freeze according to the ice cream machine instructions. Then scrape into a freezer box, cover with freezer film and freeze overnight.
4. Parmesan cheese ice cream
Many famous chefs claim that they invented parmesan cheese ice cream, though cheese ices were popular in the 18th and 19th centuries. This one, from L’Art de Bien Faire les Glaces D’Office, by Emy, dates from 1768. It is sublime served with a sliced pear.
500ml whipping cream
115g unrefined granulated sugar
115g parmesan cheese (grated)
Bring the cream to the boil with the sugar, stirring constantly, then remove from the heat and add the grated parmesan cheese, stirring until it melts. Allow to cool. Scrape into a freezer box, cover with freezer film and a lid and freeze overnight.
5. Granita di caffè espresso
We think that an espresso coffee granita is one of the best ices you will ever taste.
40g ground espresso coffee
2 tsp lemon zest
250ml sugar syrup (155g sugar to 155ml water; boil, dissolve sugar, cool and refrigerate)
1 tbsp lemon juice
Put the water in a pan, add the ground espresso coffee and bring to the boil. Turn off the heat, add the lemon zest and allow to infuse for 5 minutes. Strain through a coffee filter to remove the grounds. Add the sugar syrup and the lemon juice and leave to cool. Cover and leave to chill in the fridge.
When ready, pour into one or more strong, lidded, polypropylene containers – about 25cm x 25cm x 8cm, to give a depth of mix of approximately 2cm – cover with the lid and freeze.
To achieve uniform, small, separate ice crystals throughout, the liquid will now need forking with a table fork at regular intervals during freezing to break up the crystals.
First freeze for 1 hour or until the liquid has formed an iced rim around the edge and is starting to freeze on the base. Scrape this away and combine evenly with the remaining unfrozen liquid. Repeat every 30 minutes for a further 2 hours. Ideally, it should be eaten at once but can be stored for a few hours if forked regularly.
To serve, spoon into a tall, chilled glass. Push the handle of a spoon through the centre and wind it round to create a conical cavity; fill with whipped cream. Serve pronto!
Robin Weir is co-author with Caroline Weir of ‘Ice Creams, Sorbets & Gelati: The Definitive Guide’ (Grub Street, £25)