I love this time of year, when the ice cream maker comes out of the cupboard and starts to work overtime, and beautiful summer berries and stone fruit are available in abundance. Now I make and enjoy homemade ice creams and sorbets all year round, but this is the time when I really want to go to town churning out tubs full of luscious, deep flavoured, fruity gelato.
A bowlful of apricots I had on hand this week were destined for exactly this treatment I decided. I actually used slightly under-ripe fruit because I wanted that little bit of tartness, but I was also looking for the depth of flavour that comes from fully ripe fruit, so achieved that by roasting the apricots first with a little brown sugar and butter. The brown sugar and butter more or less turned into caramel, and the apricots really intensified in flavour. Then it was just a matter of blitzing the roasted apricots to a puree. This is a really good way of preserving apricots for use in ice cream throughout the year - simply freeze the pureed fruit in a snaplock bag in batches ready to whip out any time you want to make ice cream. You can also do the same thing with nectarines and peaches.
I hope you'll give this a go - it's pretty darn good. If you fancy a little extra texture, you could try serving this with crumbled amaretti biscuits sprinkled over the top. Don't have an ice cream machine - take my advice and invest in one - I promise you it will be worth it. I shared this with my good friends, Cliff & Clare, who came to stay on the weekend - they were so smitten Cliff was thinking that he would get Clare an ice cream maker for her birthday!
Roasted Apricot Gelato Recipe
Makes approximately 1 litre
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe
6x medium-large fresh apricots
6x large egg yolks, free range
1/2 cup sugar
325 ml (11 fl oz) milk
100 ml (3.5 fl oz) cream
1x vanilla bean
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (350 degrees F). Cut apricots in half - remove and discard the stones. Place apricots cut side up in an ovenproof dish that is just big enough to fit them quite snugly. Sprinkle each apricot half with a little brown sugar, and top each with a small knob of butter.
Place in hot oven and roast until the apricots have softened and started to collapse, and the sugar and butter have merged with the oozing fruit juices to become almost the consistency of caramel sauce.
This will take about 30 minutes, and it is helpful to baste the fruit with the juices half way through. Allow to cool completely then, using a food processor or stick blender, blitz to a puree.
Place egg yolks in a medium bowl with half of the sugar, and whisk until pale. Set aside.
Put the remaining sugar in a medium sized, heavy bottomed pan, with the milk and cream. Split the vanilla bean down the middle and scrape out the seeds, adding both the seeds and the bean to the pan with the milk and cream. Set pan over moderate heat and bring just to a boil. Remove from heat immediately.
Now, whisking constantly, slowly pour about half of the milk and cream mixture into the egg mixture. Then return all of this mixture to the remaining milk and cream in the saucepan - keep whisking constantly as you go.
Return pan to a low heat, and stir constantly until the mixture begins to thicken. A good indication that it's ready is when all the frothy bubbles from the surface disappear. Also the mixture will coat the back of a spoon, and when you run your finger through the mixture the edges of the mixture will not run back together.
Remove from the heat and immediately strain through a sieve into a clean bowl set over an ice bath. Keep stirring until the mixture has cooled completely.
Now stir the cooled apricot puree into the custard, add the vanilla bean which was strained out back into the custard, and refrigerate for 24 hours. Now remove the vanilla bean (do not throw away), and churn the custard in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. Serve straight away or freeze for several hours to firm up.
What to do with that vanilla bean? There's plenty of flavour left in that bean so don't discard it. Rinse thoroughly under cold water, then set on a paper towel on your kitchen window sill until dry. Then put into your jar of caster sugar to have a constant supply of vanilla flavoured sugar.
This will be my submission to Sweet New Zealand, inspired by Alessandra Zecchini and hosted this month by the lovely Arfi at HomeMadeS.