16 August 2007
Day 5: Fig Ice Cream
Maybe this is why I didn’t have enough fresh figs for the ice cream?
I’m a fig fanatic, so I knew when it came to fruits, I had to make a fig ice cream. Many recipes I looked at called for using dried figs, but dried figs have a very different flavor and texture than the fresh figs I love. Pastry chef Claudia Flemming had a fig ice cream that suggested laboriously halving fresh figs and scooping out their middles with a melon baller to incorporate into custard. Precisely not what I wanted to do on a nice summer day.
Fresh Fig Compote
Also, I’m always wary of fresh fruit ice creams, because of the high water content of most fruits they can risk being icy. I found the solution in David Lebovitz’s book: cook the fruit until it’s syrupy and thick, but still with the flavor of fresh fruit. I was all set to cook down my fresh figs until I got to the store and saw the price of them. There was no way I could afford all the figs needed for the ice cream! So I compromised, buying some fresh figs and making up the difference with a jar of fig preserves my Texas uncle always keeps us well supplied with.
The result was delicious, I loved the little crunchy bits of fig seeds and crystallized pieces of fig skins in contrast to the cool cream. I later read that in Louisiana, where figs are abundant, fig preserves are often mixed into ice cream. I also added a hint of cloves, which I think compliments the fig flavor perfectly. I haven’t tried this recipe using all fresh figs yet (anyone want to start up the collection plate for my figs?), but I think the combination of perfumey fresh figs and crystallized fig preserves could be pretty hard to beat!
Fig Ice Cream
Making this ice cream with fresh figs is a true luxury, but the fresh taste and texture are worth it. That said, figs can be mighty expensive, so sometimes I use half fresh figs and substitute the rest with good quality fig preserves.
2 lbs fresh figs (about 20), or substitute 1 cup fig preserves
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp cloves (anise or cardamom also work nicely)
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup half-and-half
1. Remove the stems from the figs and chop them into small pieces. Place the figs in a saucepan with 1/2 cup of water and the sugar. Cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the fig mixture is very thick, soft, and jammy, this may take as long as 20-25 minutes. You should have about 1 cup of fresh fig jam.
2. Cool the fig mixture slightly, then purée the fig mixture with the cream, half-and-half, cloves, salt, and lemon juice (if you’re substituting fig preserves, simply purée them here and omit the sugar).
3. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, at least 3 hours or overnight. Churn in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s directions.
Fig-Vermouth Ice Cream: add a splash of red vermouth to the mixture before churning.
Fig Ginger Ice Cream: Add a tablespoon of minced crystallized ginger.