Glorious Cream

BY AMANDA CUMMINS

So many of our favourite puddings in the summer have one ingredient in common. Cream. Specifically, double cream. Fools, mousses, possets, syllabubs. And luscious, seductively moreish homemade ice-cream.

The idea of homemade ice cream might seem a bit of a faff if one lacks an ice-cream maker but, frankly, an ice-cream maker is one of those kitchen gizmos which seem a good idea but may not be worth the hassle. I know several people who acquired one of these “labour-saving” devices which, after the initial excitement of producing ice-creams of various flavours, were then consigned to the Cupboard of Curiosities never again to see the light of day.

Far simpler, with no need to make a base custard and all of that palaver and every bit as good, is No-Churn Ice-cream.  It could not be simpler and requires almost zero effort. 

The idea of a “no-churn” ice-cream has been around for decades.  Having been immensely popular, it disappeared but in the last few years it’s had a renaissance.  I remember my mother first making it when we moved to the West Indies in the early 60s – she was given the basic recipe for vanilla ice-cream, with just three ingredients:  double cream, a tin of sweetened condensed milk and vanilla extract.  Whip the cream to the “soft peaks” stage, fold in the condensed milk and a splash of vanilla extract.  Pour into a suitable container before placing into the freezer for 8 hours.

After test-driving the basic vanilla, then came a myriad of flavour combinations in which tropical fruits came into their own: pineapple, coconut, mango and soursop (the last is not a fruit that is easily found in the UK, more’s the pity).

When we returned to England the recipe returned with us and my mother adapted the ice-cream components by using summer fruits while sometimes going off piste – Seville marmalade ice-cream with crumbled meringue or tinned (I make no apologies for this!) pineapple chunks and preserved ginger ice-cream with crumbled gingernut biscuits stirred into the mixture.  As Mrs. Malaprop might have said, “the world is your lobster”.  A quick search on the internet comes up with hundreds, if not thousands, of variations on a theme.

Whatever flavour combination you go for, it is undeniably rich but is not overly sweet when frozen into this blissful confection.

A favourite of mine (it jostles for poll position alongside Peach Melba no-churn ice-cream) during the summer is quintessentially English…strawberries, cream, meringue.  The months ahead are not perhaps as rosy as we would like but a little indulgence will blunt any prickly thorns.

Eton Mess No-Churn Ice-cream

Ingredients:

800g strawberries, plus a few extra left whole for decoration

3 tablespoons icing sugar

500ml double cream

1 tin (397g) sweetened condensed milk

100g meringue *

Instructions:

Hull the strawberries and cut into chunks, place in a bowl with the icing sugar and mash with a fork, and leave to macerate (you could, of course, blitz the fruit and icing sugar in a food processor/liquidiser). Definable bits of strawberry is my preference, rather than a pureé.

Whip the double cream to “soft peaks”. Add the mashed/blitzed strawberries to the condensed milk, stir together and then fold the mixture into the whipped cream. Gently stir in the meringue which has been crumbled into smallish pieces. There won’t be uniform distribution.

Line a loaf tin with cling film, leaving plenty of overlap for folding over.

Pour the cream mixture into the pan and smooth with a palette knife (give the tin a gentle shake to aid even settling).  Fold over the cling film and place in the freezer for at least 8 hours.

Remove the tin from the freezer shortly before serving (unlike “proper” ice-cream, this is rather more scoopable straight from the freezer).  Unfold the cling film from the top and invert the tin onto a plate.  Remove the tin and then the cling film.  Decorate with the remaining strawberries and, if you’re feeling artistic, some mint leaves. Present at the table just for the acclaim, and then cut into slices. 

You can, of course, forget the prettiness factor and simply decant the mixture into a container before freezing and serve in scoops straight onto plates.

*Meringues: I am not someone who is organised enough to always have homemade meringues on hand and certainly can’t be bothered to make a sheet of meringue specifically to crumble up: I keep an eye out for bags of broken meringues sold off cheaply at the local bakery.