In the world of ice cream and sorbet, it’s anything goes. An industry that used to be dominated by vanilla and chocolate and a few simple permutations is now all about imagination and adventure. I’m usually pretty game to taste an ice cream that may seem weird at first mention only to be more than pleasantly surprised by the novelty. In fact, last night at a restaurant where the extraordinarily talented Bill Corbett is Executive Pastry Chef, I was blissfully pleased with an exquisite dessert that consisted of roasted strawberries, ricotta mousse and celery sorbet. Absolutely intriguing and incredibly delicious!
I’m also very excited to see that homemade ice cream is becoming more popular and people are experimenting to their heart’s content. With so many great ice cream cookbooks out now and tons of playful ingredients, it’s hard not to want to join in all the fun.
Although there’s nothing terribly wild or weird about today’s ice cream, it’s a good one to try to take full advantage of the season. Since figs have a unique and delicious flavor that is subtle and tends to get lost in the richness of the other ice cream ingredients, I had to find a way to concentrate their flavor. My solution was to simmer them in port with some sugar, orange peel and spice to produce a compote that I could pair with a fairly plain but tangy ice cream base. To preserve the full flavor and richness of the fig compote, I swirled it into the ice cream base rather then combine the two together. It's not an overly complex ice cream but definitely a really good seasonal enjoyment for fig lovers.
- Choose figs that are soft and ripe.
- The port and the sugar in the fig compote sweeten and prevent the figs from becoming too icy in the freezer.
- If you have about a 1/4 vanilla bean piece in your vanilla sugar jar, add that to the fig compote. Maybe even toss in a few raspberries.
- I store ice cream in airtight containers that are not tall and deep so the ice cream can come to a scoop-able temperature fairly quickly.
- This would make a great ice cream sandwich with chocolate cookies.
- I was sort of tempted to try and work a small bit of blue cheese in this or some toasted almonds or walnuts. Maybe next time!
- I use a very simple and affordable Cuisinart ice cream machine. You can usually find it on sale somewhere.
Fig Swirl Ice Cream
Makes about 1 1/2 pints
1 cup (8 oz) heavy cream
1 cup (8 oz) sour cream
1/2 cup (4 oz) milk
1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz) dark brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon lemon juice, to taste
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
pinch salt, to taste
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (3 oz) tawny or ruby port
1/4 cup (2 oz) water
2 tablespoons (26 grams) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons (26 grams) dark brown sugar, packed
2” strip of orange peel, pith removed
1/4 cinnamon stick
6 fresh ripe figs
1 teaspoon lemon juice
For the ice cream base, whisk together all the ingredients and place in an airtight container in the refrigerator until thoroughly chilled, preferably overnight.
For the fig compote, place the port, water, both sugars, orange peel and cinnamon in a saucepan and bring to a slow boil to dissolve the sugars. Lower heat and simmer for about 15 minutes to reduce and concentrate the flavors. Remove the stems from the figs and cut into bite-sized pieces. Add figs and lemon juice to the port mixture and simmer until tender, about 5 – 8 minutes. Remove the orange peel and cinnamon stick and cool completely.
Freeze the ice cream base in an ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s instructions. Pour a third of the ice cream into a clean airtight container. Layer half the fig mixture on top. Pour another third of the ice cream and then layer the remaining figs. Pour the remaining ice cream on top and use a knife to make 2 – 3 swirls. Press a piece of plastic wrap onto the surface, cover and place in freezer to firm up.