Thyme supperclub help us combat the summer heat with some ice-cream themed recipes…
When I was a child, my mother used to pour diluted fruit squash into ice cube trays, and stick a toothpick out the side of each one before freezing.
She managed to convince us that these homemade ice lollies – popsicles to Americans – were superior to anything bought in the shops. I remember thinking it was almost like magic, how watery squash changed within the space of a few hours to something so delicious.
Even now, when I have eaten ice cream a hundred times and know the chemistry behind making it, I am still struck by how incredible it is that we can combine some simple ingredients – eggs, milk, cream, sugar, flavour – and end up with something so tasty and so different from its constituent parts.
Almost everyone seems to have a childhood memory of some kind of frozen dessert. And in Berlin, if you ask almost anyone, adult or child, they will tell you with a gleam in their eyes about their favourite ice cream parlour. The absolute magic of an icy cold, sweet snack on a hot summer day never seems to pall.
Luckily, there’s no shortage of ice cream in Berlin. In Prenzlauer Berg, local favourites include Hokey Pokey, Caramello and neighbourhood institution Kleine Eiszeit, which almost always has a long queue outside. Kreuzberg is home to the rightly famous Vanille & Marille, and Anna Durkes, specializing in rich chocolate and nut gelati. Amorino, a fancy Italian chain with wonderful mango ice cream among others, has a shop (sorry, an “ice cream boutique”) on Oranienburgerstrasse in Mitte.
For those looking for something a bit different, Daeri provides excellent frozen yoghurt, Eismanufactur specializes in sorbets. Inka Eis in Schöneberg has unusual flavours, usually made from exotic, Latin American fruit. Eislabor serves vegan ice cream and Paletas makes wonderful popsicles, which you’ll find popping up at food markets and in little cafes all over Berlin. Paletas most recent regular slot is at the Street Food Thursdays in Markthalle Neun.
But if you want to have a go at making your own, it can be very easy. A semifreddo gets its lightness from the air that is whipped into the cream and eggs before freezing. This means you can freeze it as a solid block, no churning required, and it will still be light as a feather from the freezer. The version below is based on a classic English dessert, consisting of a “mess” of broken meringue, fresh strawberries and whipped cream – perfect for using up the current glut of strawberries. Classic ice creams and sorbets need to be churned to break up the ice crystals as they freeze. You can do this by hand but it is vastly easier with an ice cream maker.
When I first got my ice cream machine, I tried all sorts of experiments with savoury ice cream, most of which were utterly divisive – people loved them or hated them. The first recipe below uses a sweet sorbet, combined with a savoury chilled soup, which happily proved a winning combination for almost everyone. If you’ve not tried ajo blanco before, I know the recipe will sound very odd. I promise it works. Despite the richness of the oil, the pungent garlic and piquant vinegar combined with the cold sweet fruity sorbet deliver a wonderfully refreshing kick on a warm day.
The final recipe, for salted caramel ice cream, is an old recipe of mine, but one I have a real soft spot for. When we first started our supper club, I was a bit obsessed with salted caramel and ended up serving an awful lot of desserts featuring it. This one is my absolute favourite. One word of caution: two of the recipes below include raw eggs and shouldn’t be eaten by pregnant women or very small children.
Ajo blanco soup with melon sorbet
If you don’t want to go to the bother of making sorbet, you can serve the soup with green grapes instead.
Serves 6 as a starter
For the soup
175g almonds (it’s best to use whole ones and blanch them yourself, but if you don’t want to do this, slivered almonds will be fine)
200g good white bread, crust removed
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
200ml extra virgin olive oil
1.5 tbsp sherry vinegar
For the sorbet
A small ripe musk melon (e.g. cantaloupe or honey dew), peel and seeds removed, cut into chunks (about 400-500g).
a small squeeze of lemon juice
1 tbsp sherry (optional)
a few flaked almonds, toasted
Extra virgin olive oil
For the sorbet, purée all the ingredients until smooth, chill, churn in your ice cream maker, and freeze.
For the soup, tear the bread into chunks and soak in water for around 10 minutes. Squeeze excess water out of the bread and put in a food processor with the almonds and garlic and blitz until well mixed. Add the olive oil in a thin, slow trickle with the processor running, then add the vinegar and water gradually, with the mixer running, until you have the consistency you want. I’d normally use around 300ml extra water for this quantity, but you may prefer it thicker, or thinner. Taste for seasoning – you will probably want to add salt, perhaps a bit more vinegar, or even another clove of garlic.
Pass the mixture through a sieve. Chill thoroughly, for at least two hours. (If you haven’t got that long, use iced water in the previous step.) To serve, put scoops of the melon sorbet into soup bowls, pour the chilled ajo blanco soup around it, scatter with flaked almonds and drizzle over a little oil.
Eton mess semifreddo
You can also freeze it in a loaf tin and serve by cutting slices, instead of the individual portions below.
For the semifreddo
130g whipping cream
1 tsp lemon juice
Line 8 ramekins, pots or small bowls with clingfilm. (Whatever you use, they should have a capacity of around 250ml.)
Reserve a few pretty strawberries for the garnish, wash and hull the rest of them, and whiz to a liquid in a food processor, along with a third of the sugar and the lemon juice. Press the sauce through a sieve to remove the seeds, then refrigerate.
Beat the eggs with the rest of the sugar until about tripled in volume. In a separate bowl, whip the cream until it holds soft peaks. Gently fold together the egg mixture, cream and about one third of the strawberry sauce, until well mixed, but with a few red/white streaks still visible. Crush the meringue into rubble – the biggest pieces should be about the size of a walnut – and fold that in too. Spoon into the lined vessels, smooth the tops, cover and freeze for at least 4 hours
Remove from the freezer 5 minutes before serving, invert onto the serving plates and peel off the clingfilm. Garnish with the remaining strawberries and the strawberry sauce alongside for pouring.
Salted caramel ice cream with hot chocolate sauce
Just the ice cream alone is great, but served with hot chocolate sauce, it is truly sublime.
Serves 6, generously
For the ice cream
500ml whole milk
half a tsp sea salt
250ml thick cream
5 egg yolks
For the sauce
60ml thick cream
15g caster sugar
25g unsweetened cocoa powder
100g chocolate (70% cocoa solids), grated or chopped
For the ice cream, heat the sugar over a medium heat, stirring as little as possible.
Meanwhile, split the milk into two equal parts and put one part into a large bowl with a sieve above it.
When the sugar is liquid, keep heating to the point where it is just starting to smoke. It is very easy to miss this point and end up with burnt sugar; you need to keep a close eye on it.
As soon as you see smoke, remove the caramel from the heat and stir in the butter and salt. Add the cream, a little at a time, stirring constantly. Don’t worry if the caramel seizes up, just return to a low heat and continue stirring until smooth. Add the other half of the milk.
Put the egg yolks in a bowl, break up with a fork, and pour in a little of the caramel mixture to warm them. Mix together and tip the whole lot back into the saucepan with the rest of the caramel. Whisk over a low heat until the mixture thickens slightly, then pour through the sieve into the glass bowl containing the rest of the milk.
Chill thoroughly, at least three hours in the fridge, churn in your ice cream machine and freeze as normal.
Make the sauce immediately before serving, by putting the cream, sugar, cocoa powder and water into a saucepan and whisking over a medium-low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil, and let it gently bubble away for just a couple of minutes.
Add the chocolate and stir until all the pieces have melted and the sauce is smooth.
Serve the sauce, hot, alongside the ice cream at the table; it needs to be eaten the moment you pour the hot sauce onto the cold ice cream.