It may come as a surprise, but I have never really been a huge fan of ice cream.
As a child I used to enjoy the occasional treat from the local ice cream van – my favourite being an ‘oyster’ – two shell shaped wafers joined together with a coconut coated marshmallow, filled with soft, whipped vanilla ice cream. As an adult I could really take-or-leave ice cream, apart from two very notable occasions.
Firstly, I enjoyed a truly memorable ‘Meringata’ ice cream, or gelato, from a side street Gelateria in Siena, Italy. The memory of the fabulous lemony, citrus cream and mallow-like meringue pieces has stayed with me. Utterly divine.
Secondly, on a visit to Beirut some years ago, a friend and I explored the narrow streets to seek out the ‘world’s best ice cream’ from Hanna Mitri. A small unassuming corner shop, with the freshly made ice cream stored in a deep freezer, making ice cream has been in this family for generations. The ice cream is truly sensational with flavours such as milk, lemon, rosewater, pistachio and fresh apricot paste. In fact, I feel privileged to have tasted such fresh, natural ice cream.
These memorable ice creams are what I dream of recreating – not overly sweet, too cold, crystallized, hard offerings but natural, intense and creamy delights.
Enter my Blackberry and Lemon Balm Ice Cream.
If you are a regular reader of this blog you will know that I like blackberries. Abundant, cheap (free this time of year if you are foraging), intense and oh, I so love the colour. I have paired the blackberries here with a lemon balm syrup, the leaves of which were picked from a friend’s garden. Being part of the mint family, the lemon balm gives a lemony, sweetness which compliments the blackberries nicely.
This is pretty easy to put together, even more so if you have an ice cream machine. I have just invested in a machine with a condenser unit. This means that the ice cream comes together, is churned and frozen, and is ready for serving within 45-50 minutes. Needless to say, I am excited with the results it produces.
Ice cream machine or not (it can be quite easily made by whisking by hand and freezing), this is an ice cream that you will be delighted with. Creamy with an intense berry flavour, it is pretty delectable.
It is fair to say I am an ice cream convert now. A HUGE fan.
- 3 to 4 stalks of lemon balm, leaves stripped from stalks
- 4 tbsp. caster sugar
- 1 lemon, juice only
- 2 tbsp. water
- 300g fresh blackberries
- 2 tbsp. caster sugar
- 160ml whole milk
- 150g granulated sugar
- 300ml double cream
- Firstly, prepare the syrup. In a heavy based saucepan, add the lemon balm leaves, caster sugar, lemon juice and water. Over a medium heat, allow the sugar to dissolve and to simmer until reduced and a syrup forms. Set aside to cool.
- In a separate saucepan, place the blackberries and 2 tbsp. caster sugar. Over a low heat, allow the berries to soften. Strain the berries through a sieve into a bowl to remove any seeds. Set aside pureed blackberries to cool.
- Pour the milk and sugar into a large bowl and whisk until the sugar dissolves. Add the cream and half of the pureed blackberries and mix. Remove the lemon balm leaves from the syrup and add the syrup to the mix and stir. Allow the batter to rest in the refrigerator for a few hours, or overnight.
- Pour the batter into an ice cream machine and allow to churn and freeze for 45 minutes. Add the remaining half of the blackberry puree and churn for a further 5 minutes. Serve immediately or transfer to a plastic container and store in the freezer until ready for use.
- * If you do not have an ice cream machine, add the batter to a large plastic container (instead of a machine) and place in the freezer. Whisk intermittently at 30-45 minutes. After the second whisk, add the second half of the blackberry puree and ripple through the ice cream. Allow to freeze fully, 4-6 hours.
Source: Adapted from Cuisinart Recipe