Fig leaf, honey and olive oil ice cream / Nicola Galloway
Fig leaf ice cream, honey and olive oil
Figs are a short season fruit – blink and you’ll miss them. They also don’t transport well, so unless you have a tree or have access to a neighborhood tree, they can be hard to find.
Farmers markets at this time of year will have a number of stalls selling them in a variety of shapes and sizes.
We have a very large, old fig tree that sits on the edge of our property and the shore. In addition to providing fruit, it serves as shade for two beehives that a neighbor keeps on our property (hence the use of honey in the recipe below). We have no idea of the variety of fig tree, as it was planted long before we moved in.
It fruits earlier than most fig varieties, in late January, with an abundance of fist-sized fruit (I suspect its roots dip into the river below). From these I make slow cooking fig jam and fig chutney.
* Recipe: Fig, chocolate and cashew nut granola bars
* Red cabbage salad with fig vinaigrette
* Recipe: Wavy Boysenberry Ice Cream
* Fried bread with figs and caramelized red onions straight out of the oven
By the time it finishes fruiting each year, and after turning many fruit baskets, I don’t want to see another fig for a long time.
However, when the “real” season for figs arrives, I am always happy to see them because now is my time to enjoy cooking with figs.
Fig leaf ice cream, honey & olive oil
Fig leaf is an optional flavor addition, it’s subtle yet lovely. If you don’t have access to a fig tree, keep an eye out in your neighborhood or at a community garden for a leaf sample. Still no luck? Fresh thyme can be used instead.
The addition of olive oil in this ice cream is also something a little different.
Choose a good quality extra virgin oil for more flavor, or use a lighter oil if you prefer. It also acts as an emulsifier to reduce the formation of ice crystals. This is particularly useful when I don’t use an ice cream maker – I don’t own one myself, although with kids who like to make homemade ice cream, I keep my eyes peeled for a used one.
The only problem being where to put another kitchen gadget!
For 6 persons
Preparation time: 20 minutes + 2 hours of cooling
Freezing time: 2.5 to 5 hours
500 ml (2 cups) cream
250 ml (1 cup) milk (I used oat milk)
1 small fig leaf or sprig of thyme
100 g (⅓ cup) sweet honey
4 egg yolks
¼ cup (50g) sugar
¼ cup (60ml) olive oil
Pinch of salt
Put the cream, milk and fig leaf (or thyme) in a saucepan. Heat over low heat until the cream foams on the surface. Remove from fire.
Put the honey in a small saucepan and heat until it bubbles. Cook another minute, stirring, until it turns a dark amber color. Remove from fire.
In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and olive oil until thick and emulsified. Slowly pour in the honey while whisking.
Remove the fig leaf (or thyme) from the cream, then slowly pour it into the egg mixture, continuing to whisk. Return the custard to the pan and heat gently, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the custard lightly coats the back of the spoon – about 5 minutes.
Pour into a bowl and allow to cool completely – this can be speeded up by placing the bowl in a larger bowl of cold water. Then put in the fridge for 1-2 hours until very cold.
Use an ice cream maker to churn for about 20 minutes until thickened (check the user manual for exact timing). Then pour into a freezer safe dish and freeze until solid, about 2 hours. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, pour the chilled custard into a freezer-safe dish. Freeze for 1 hour then whisk the custard vigorously to break up the ice crystals. Repeat this step every hour two more times then freeze for at least 2 hours until solid.
To serve, take the ice cream out of the freezer 5 to 10 minutes before serving to soften it and release it more easily. Serve with roasted figs and stovetop crumble.
Ice cream can be made ahead and frozen for up to a month.