Friday, July 4, 2008

Noyau Ice Cream with Nectarine Sauce

A few years ago I discovered the subtle beauty of Noyau Ice Cream. Noyau is the French term for fruit stone and it is also the almond-like kernel inside apricot pits that flavors this ice cream. It gives a very soft flavor of almond yet seems to taste a bit different. Its dreamy pale color is a shade darker than vanilla.

As I mentioned in a recent apricot recipe, I save apricot pits each season to make this ice cream. It somehow manages to remind me of the essence of summer, the quintessential stretch of time full of churning ice creams and sorbets for idyllic pastry menus. If you're like me, once you've tried this recipe you won't ever simply toss those apricot pits again.

Bench notes:
- As you might guess, this ice cream is delicious with apricots, cherries or peaches, or any pastry made with these fruits. I can also imagine it with figs. Chocolate would overpower it, but who's to say?
- Wash the apricot pits and let them dry. They can be stored at room temperature for quite a long time.
- The kernels should not look shriveled or dry. They should give off a fairly strong scent when crushed or chopped. If you break a kernel open and it does not give off a scent, it's past its prime.
- I left the nectarine skins on for color and then strained them out. Peel them before chopping if you don't want to go through this step.

Noyau Ice Cream
adapted from Chez Panisse Desserts by Lindsey Shere
Makes about 1 quart

20 apricot pits
3/4 C sugar
3/4 C milk
2 1/4 C heavy cream
4 egg yolks

Break open apricot pits with a hammer to remove the small almond-like kernels inside. You may want to use a cloth to keep the bits from flying. Crush the kernels with a mortar and pestle or chop into small pieces.

Place the sugar, milk, cream and kernels in a saucepan and heat right up to a good simmer but just before it boils. Cover and let the mixture steep for 30 minutes to an hour, tasting periodically to check for strength. It should taste of almond, but not bitter.

When you have the desired flavor, heat the milk mixture a bit and pour some of it into the yolks, whisking constantly to temper the mixture. Pour the yolks and cream back into the pan and cook slowly over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it coats the back of a spoon. Strain into a clean container and cool, stirring occasionally. Chill thoroughly.

Pour into your ice cream maker and freeze. Pour into a clean container, cover the surface of the ice cream with a piece of plastic wrap, be sure the container lid is tight and place in your freezer to firm up.

Nectarine Sauce

4 ripe nectarines
3-4 T water
juice of half a lemon, to taste
sugar, to taste

Pit and chop the nectarines. Place in a saucepan with the remaining ingredients. Cook over low heat until juices are rendered and the nectarines are soft, adding water if needed. Adjust lemon juice and sugar for flavor. Remove from heat and cool.

You can leave the sauce chunky or blend it for a smooth texture.


Anonymous said...

Who would have considered that apricot pits might be a great flavour maker? Surely not I, and would that it were possible to grow apricots at my latitude. When they finally appear at the market, let me remember to buy, eat, and save pits for this tempting dessert....

Another beautiful series of photos.


Y said...

I remember when I was maybe eight, and cracked open an apricot pit out of curiosity, nibbled the little kernel inside and went, Blechhh! :D

Cannelle Et Vanille said...

Hi Gayle, I was waiting for this recipe! I can't wait to try it... beautiful!

cindy* said...

the color of that sauce...gorgeous. seriously.

i have been wanting to make something like this ice cream for some time, but it seems so intimidating. so pretty!

Helene said...

Every year my aunt chasese after our plates (I am not there anymore but I know she still does it) to save the pits for ice cream and jams. She does it for ice cream too. Wonderful flavor!! I have never made it but your post makes me crave it again!

Anonymous said...

In a later chez pannise cookbook (Fruit), Alice tells us to roast the seeds in their kernels, cool and crack them, then roast them again to eliminate the enzyme that forms prussic acid.(cyanide)I haven't googled it to see what others think, but you might want to look into it before serving to small children or the elderly.

Good luck one and all.

pastry studio said...

Thanks, anonymous. Yes, it's always good to take caution and know these details for at-risk populations. For those who are not either elderly, very young or compromised in health, the amount in this ice cream may not pose a threat. I've eaten it several times without risk, but this may not be the case for everyone.

Anonymous said...

This is probably a silly question, but do the apricot pits have to be fresh? Its just that I'm pretty certain that most chinese grocery stores offer packets of skinned apricot pits in the cooking herbs aisles and I was thinking of trying the recipe with those.

pastry studio said...

The pits can sit for quite a long time, but once the kernels are removed, they should probably be used soon. I'm not sure if you are talking about the actual pits or the kernels, but as long as the kernels look like those in the photo, they should be fine. You don't want them to be shriveled and dried up and you should be able to smell their wonderful aroma when you chop them.

I hope you get to make this. It's really subtle and incredible!

Anonymous said...

I've been saving and making my children save the pits of our apricots (out tree finally produce about 2 pounds!) because I remember reading Chez Panisse Fruit (from the library)and I knew wanted to use the apricot kernels. I was elated to find this recipe. Thanks so much!

Jenny said...

A year after this post, and I have made this ice cream. It is so delicious, it's up there with my other favorite, grand marnier ice cream. It tastes like the love child of almonds and pistachios, and is so rich, rich, rich. Thank you for the introduction to the recipe. (I have some delicious apricot jam that I could see pureeing and eating with the ice cream as a sauce, but the ice cream itself is so delicious, I want nothing to adulterate the taste!)

pastry studio said...

Hi Jenny. Thanks so much for stopping by and reminding me how much I love this ice cream. It's a bit hard to describe and I love your description. It's so delicate and lovely that like I also hesitate to serve it with anything that might overpower it. Enjoy!

Jenny said...

I only recently discovered your wonderful blog, and since it's summer, I looked through all your ice cream recipes. (It was very difficult to not bookmark every single one for my own test kitchen trials.)

Next up: Turkish coffee ice cream.

Thanks for sharing all these delights!

Anonymous said...

I have made the Chez Panisse version using forty cherry pits. My instant favorite, and guests love it.

Marianne Evans said...

I haven't made this ice cream yet but intend to, and soon. However, I wondered what you think about freezing the almond nuts. I keep nuts in the freezer all the time so I'm thinking this could work. Do you have an opinion? I have just inherited a whole boatload of apricots.

pastry studio said...

Hello, Marianne. OMG, a BOATLOAD of apricots? I'm green with envy!!

I keep the apricot pits in tact in an airtight bag in the freezer and then crack them open as I need them for ice cream. So yes, by all means, store them for future use. As I state above, once the pits are cracked open, the kernels themselves should not look shriveled or dried up and you should be able to smell their wonderful aroma when you chop them.

Hope you enjoy this ice cream as much as I do!

Marianne Evans said...

Well, a small boatload! I made the apricot oatmeal bars the other day and they were glorious. The crusts were done but I think I'll bake a bit longer next time. The bars didn't want to stay together as well as I thought they would. Also, the apricots were a little soupy and I used the liquid in the fill, too. No soggy crust, but I think I'll hold the liquid back next time. I have yet to try a recipe of yours that hasn't been a pleasure.

As I told you once before, I used to work with your brother in Scotts Valley. Lovely man.

pastry studio said...

Oh my goodness, Marianne, I don't recall you mentioning that you worked with my brother! He is great one, to be sure.

Glad you enjoyed the bars. Yes, depending on the juiciness of your fruit, you do need to use your judgement about how much liquid to hold back.

Thanks so much for the compliment. I truly appreciate it!