Long before the days of modern refrigeration methods there was ice-cream and frozen desserts - the Roman emperors would have snow and ice brought down from the Alps to satisfy their desire for cold sweets and chilled drinks. Marco Polo returned from his long visit to China with recipes for sorbets. In England many a stately home still has an ice house hidden away somewhere. Blocks of ice would be broken from the surface of lakes and stored underground where it would remain until needed on warmer summer days.
Nowadays there are many flavours available ready made - even savoury ones - one parlour in North Wales has on its menu ‘Pea’ ice cream - and no, I haven't tried it. Despite all the flavors out there it is good sometimes to make your own - no preservatives for one thing - you will know exactly what is going in there and what comes out will be delicious. There are a number of ice cream makers out there, some excellent, if rather expensive , but I never seem to have enough room in the freezer to cool the equipment so tend to use just a plastic box, perhaps a food processor and a fork. The latter is necessary to stir the mixture at least once, preferably 2 or 3 times , as it is freezing. This will serve to break up any large ice lumps that form and keep your ice cream smooth. The important thing is to keep everything scrupulously clean.
Coconut Ice Cream
I cup of double cream (heavy cream)
½ cup milk
½ cup coconut flakes (dessicated coconut - if you use the sweetened kind don't worry the mixture tastes rather sweet as freezing lessens the effect).
8 oz, 200g coconut cream
Combine, beat well and place in freezer. After an hour stir with fork and repeat each hour until frozen firmly - probably about three hours. This I serve with a sauce made by melting 6 cubes of dark chocolate, adding a good pinch of ginger and a teaspoon full of lime curd or lime marmalade. Serve with a crispy wafer biscuit at the most sophisticated of dinner parties - it has however also been enjoyed at a barbeque
Peanut Butter Ice-cream
½ pint, 250 mls double (heavy) cream
½ pint, 250 mls evaporated milk (you could use single cream/light)
2 oz, 50 g brown sugar
½ cup of chunky peanut butter
3 drops of vanilla extract.
Adding some crushed choc chip cookies is also good - about 1/3 -1/2 cup
Heat the cream, evaporated milk, sugar and peanut butter gently, stirring until the sugar has dissolved and the peanut butter has been well mixed in. Add the vanilla extract when it has cooled, plus the biscuit crumbs if using and transfer to plastic box for freezing. Again, stir with a fork every hour until frozen solid. I like this with a sauce made from cream with a spoonful of maple syrup stirred in. It is also good beside stewed fruit such as apricots.
You can make ice cream using packets of instant custard so I'm told. This is a more traditional Custard Ice Cream
1 ½ cups of castor sugar
2 tablespoons of all purpose flour
3 pints of milk
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Heat the milk to the point where very tiny bubbles are beginning to form. Mix the flour and sugar together. Stir in the eggs. Pour the heated milk into this mixture. Stir well and then return to the heat. Stir with a wooden spoon until it thickens enough to coat the spoon. Remove from heat and add the vanilla extract. This is a rich but basic mixture to which you can add whatever your imagination and availability allows - try sweetened stewed rhubarb and chopped strawberries for an unusual combination. As it is so rich it is perhaps best served after a very light main course and in small portions.
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