After the freaky, record-breaking heatwave an even more unusual weather is being forecast: a warm and sunny, settled spell of summer!
Those of us who are not spending our summer holidays at Heathrow airport or in the queue at the Port of Dover (I do feel for those guys!) should stock up the freezer. With the most important food items: ice cream.
It seems the supermarket freezers are quite depleted of plain old dairy vanilla, strawberry or chocolate. On the other hand, tubs of idiotically named and horribly expensive plant-based gunk are plentiful. I wonder why that might be?
I’ll leave the sarcasm aside and provide a simple explanation: non-dairy ice cream is hideous unless it’s sorbet. I do not trust any plant-based ‘creamy’ ice cream because half the ingredients on the label belong in the chemistry lab. The only exception might be coconut milk-based ice cream but it only makes one kind of flavour: coconut.
Homemade ice cream might not always be the perfect texture but it is free of weird chemicals and can easily be made lower in calories if you cut down sugar. And you can make your favourite flavours: not sure why all chocolate ice cream on sale has to be salted, or why raspberry is only ever a ripple.
So we’d better get churning!
I make my ice cream without eggs, mainly because I’m scared of custard with all this coating the back of the spoon and drawing lines in it. Eggless can be just as smooth and creamy when made on the base of double cream and milk mix. That’s how my vanilla, chocolate and strawberry ripple flavours are made. You can make it skinny when single cream and semi-skimmed milk replace the full fat equivalents, but it’s useful to add some stabiliser then, if only just a teaspoon of cornflour.
Another good base mix is double cream, full fat yoghurt and a little cream cheese: see mango and summer berry flavours.
What if you have no ice cream maker? It really isn’t a problem to be honest, because the texture will be as good, if not better, if you ‘churn’ it manually. Simply pour the mix into a shallow dish and freeze it. Three or four times, every half an hour, remove it from the freezer and blitz with a handheld mixer. Or you can mash it up with a fork or potato ricer. It works very well with the mascarpone sorbet, the newest addition to my ice cream range.
There is also a magic ingredient which allows you to mix the ice cream, pour it into a tub and shove it into the freezer, in the smug knowledge it will scoop smoothly without any churning at all. It is condensed milk, or evaporated milk in the skinnier version. Whip it with double cream, add any flavours like raspberry, and it’s done. And if you use tinned caramel, it’s a 2-ingredient (salt doesn't count) salted caramel ice cream, simply divine.
Don’t forget toppings like slow roasted strawberries or glace cherries, and you could bake some ice cream props like filo pastry cones or choux buns for ice cream sandwiches. Happy freezing!