Soft Ice Cream

At Christmas time we often make ice cream for friends and family as a small gift. This year we did two flavours: a really traditional French vanilla ice cream, rich with egg yolks and filled with home-grown damsons, and a simpler coffee ice cream without egg yolks. Both are delicious, but like most home-made ices they tend to get overly hard in the freezer and need to soften slightly before serving.

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I’m not the first person to think of this, but it doesn’t seem to be widely published. The way to soft scoop nirvana is via Italian meringue!

I don’t know why I didn’t do this before. After all, we often add whipped egg whites to sorbets to prevent them becoming too grainy. And once I’d made the custard for the French vanilla, I was left with some 18 egg whites, which we’d be unlikely to use. We’re not that fond of egg white omelettes!

So I experimented with Italian meringue, and it worked brilliantly.

Using the excellent Ankarsrum Assistent, I whipped up around half of my egg whites (say 8 or 9 whites) to the point that they were holding up but not yet in peaks.

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Then made a syrup of 2 cups white sugar to 1 cup water, heated to 240F. The mixer is switched to medium-high speed, and the hot syrup very gradually poured in. This cooks the egg whites to form the meringue.

Once both the custard and the meringue are cold, the churning of the ice cream can begin. First, we start to freeze the custard.

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Then add the meringue to make a much lighter texture in the finished product.

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And that’s it. No waste, increased volume, soft scoop. And not too much of a fiddle to do. I think this is going to become part of our repertoire from now on.

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