Who doesn’t love apricots? Honestly though, I’m only a recent convert myself–I always used to think they were sour and the peach’s short, ugly cousin. Turns out, I’d only tried not-quite-ripe apricots–the really ripe ones are tender, ready to burst, and lusciously sweet and velvetty. Sounds perfect for an ice cream, right?
Now that apricots are in season and surprisingly cheap, its a great time to try this sexy little fruit in its fresh rather than the much more familiar dried form. The only tough thing is managing them–I’ll buy a bunch that are just shy of being ripe, wait for them to ripen just right, and they almost always all are ready at the same time, at which point, you have a very small window before they go bad. Frustrating, but all the more reason to gobble them up in a hurry and get more, right?
So for this ice cream, you start with a bunch of these so-ripe-they-bruise-to-the-touch apricots, poach them in some white wine until they fall apart, and combine them with some flavors to enhance their more subtle qualities (e.g. almond, caramel, and honey). The resulting ice cream, like apricots, is lusciously sweet, velvetty, vibrant, and tinged with the slight bitterness of almonds and the darker backdrop of swirls and pockets of caramel throughout.
This is also one of my entries in You Scream, I Scream, We All Scream for Frozen Desserts, an event focused on the cold treats to fight off the summer heat (also, the star of the logo!). Don’t forget to join in!
- ~10 very ripe apricots (~1.5-1.75 lbs)
- 1/4 cup white wine (something sweet, I went overboard and used Sauternes)
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup + 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1 Tbsp honey
- 1 cup heavy cream
- small squeeze of lemon juice
- few drops almond extract
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1/2 cup almonds
- Caramel sauce
- 1/2 cup of sugar
- 3 Tbsp butter
- 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
Begin with the apricots. You want apricots that are so ripe, that they seem to bruise just about anywhere you touch them–they should be ready to just explode with juice. Halve and pit these, doing your best to reserve any errant juice.
In a saucepan, warm the water and wine up to about medium heat so that it is just under a simmer. Put the pitted apricots in the liquid, cover the pan, and poach for about 10 minutes, stirring on occasion and removing from heat once time is up.
Now, the apricots will look kind of like jam as they ought to be kind of fallen apart. Add in the 1/2 cup of sugar and honey, stirring just until dissolved, after which, you should puree this entire mixture in a food processor or blender. Transfer the mix into a bowl with 1/2 cup of the cream, lemon juice, and almond extract. Mix well and set it up in an ice bath with a strainer on top.
And now, in a saucepan, scald the remaining 1/2 cup of cream and 1/2 cup of whole milk, taking care not to boil. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg yolks and the remaining tablespoon of sugar until creamy. Temper the eggs with a good scoop of the hot cream as you stir, after which, you should mix the yolk mixture into the hot cream saucepan and stir constantly.
Warm this up until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon and constantly stir to avoid any scrambling. After somewhere around 5-10 minutes, pour the cooked custard through the strainer into your cool apricot mixture and whisk this all together well. Press some plastic wrap right on the surface to prevent a skin from forming and transfer this to the fridge for about 6 hours.
While the custard cools, toast the almonds on a cookie sheet in a 350°F oven for about 10 minutes, shaking them up once halfway through to prevent burning. Once they’ve cooled off a bit, smash them down to a smaller size in a plastic bag with a meat mallet and set this bag aside in the fridge.
Also, prepare the caramel sauce. Heat the sugar in a sauce pan on high heat until it goes from odd chunks to almost entirely melted down (figure between 5 and 10 minutes). Then, drop the heat a bit, add the butter (be careful! It will froth up!) and whisk it. Once mixed, remove from heat, let rest for a few seconds, and then whisk in the cream. Once totally mixed, let this cool for a bit before moving to another container in the fridge.
Finally, several hours later, its time to churn the ice cream. Follow the instructions with your ice cream maker and churn the custard for about 20 minutes, adding the almonds during the last minute or two of churning. Also, have your caramel sauce ready for when the churning is done.
You don’t want to just dump the caramel into the ice cream maker as well, or else it will be mixed right into the custard and you’ll have a muddied looking ice cream when what you really want are distinct swirls. So instead, sprinkle some lines of caramel sauce in the bottom of the container you intend to store the ice cream in. Then, with the ice cream done churning, pour some of the ice cream into the container and then shake in a few more bits of caramel sauce in a haphazard pattern. Continue this in layers until you run out of both ice cream and caramel sauce–but be warned, time is of the essence as you don’t want your ice cream to melt too much! Once you’ve poured it all together, fold this a bit to spread the swirls a bit more through the ice cream and transfer this to the freezer over night.
Finally, when tomorrow rolls around, pile this on high and top it off with some creme chantilly (and maybe even a cherry on top). Enjoy!