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.

fig compote
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
pinch salt
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.


Anonymous said...

Wow, this sounds simply amazing, especially the ginger variant! It's such a shame that fresh figs are close to impossible to find around here...

Anonymous said...

I once had fig gelato (or sorbetto? not sure) at an ice cream stand here in NYC and I'm pretty sure it might have been the best thing I ever put in my mouth, besides a clutch of perfectly ripe fresh figs... Delicious. It's too bad they're so expensive here!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Dang, I could have made this last year for nothing from a neighbors fig tree BUT not this year. This year, new owner, new fence no sign to help yourself.
This looks really so lovely.

Vicky said...

cool ice cream... i have a thriving fig tree (shrub, bush?)and there are dozens of figs! also, i thought the indian pudding ice cream was truly one of a kind. have you ever had sweet corn ice cream?

May said...

Mmmm... Looks and sounds very delicous!
I also read about the previous ice-creams, they all seem very delicious. Very original too.
Well done and I'll keep reading!

Mercedes said...

Hannah- perhaps you could try it with preserves? I agree, fig ginger sounds good, but the fig-vermouth pairing rocks!

Luisa- oh pray tell, where might this place be, and can i track them down?

mykitchen- hmmm, i'd be making friends with my new neighbors if i were you.

vicky- i'm jealous of your tree. I have a tiny one in a pot with about 4 figs. I've seen many recipes for corn ice cream, but I've never eaten it, have you and would you recommend it?

m- thank you!

Unknown said...

This looks very, very scrummy. Mercedes!!! Definitely on the to make list.

Back in NZ, we have this drink called Stone's Green Ginger Wine. It's wonderful poured over vanilla ice cream. I can just imagine how good it would taste over top of your fig ice cream. MmmmmMmmmmm...

Sandi said...

Does anyone know where I can buy figs in Arizona?


Anonymous said...

I am so lucky, my boyfriend also loves figs! And he has a fig tree by his bedroom window.

futurowoman said...

Thank you for sharing this! A friend just gave me a giant bag of figs, so I will make this tonight!

futurowoman said...

update: I made it, and it is truly amazing! I doubled the recipe and used 40 fresh figs. Next time, I think I'll try it with the anise (I used cloves). Thank you for such a great recipe!