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A Crystal in a Haystack


Recently I have been making my own ice cream and it is very addictive - both the eating and the making of it. I am not blowing my own trumpet by saying that it is delicious because the base is so easy and straightforward to make and the flavour is all up to you. You have no need for an ice cream maker, you just use your kitchen mixer. I happened to be watching Nigella Lawson's programme 'Nigelissima' where she demonstrated an espresso flavoured ice cream and I was hooked.

Making the base is simple, it just takes 1 x 397gm tin of condensed milk and 3 x 300ml cartons of double cream then you add your flavouring. Yesterday I decided on honey flavour so in went 2 tablespoons of runny honey (because that was the only honey I had in the house but next time I would certainly consider using set honey) then a teaspoonful of vanilla essence was poured in. Now I needed some alcohol to stop it freezing solid and I happened to have some mead, a double shot will do. So with all that in the mixing bowl and using the balloon whisk I whisked it at quite a high speed until it set in firm peaks.

I had looked on the internet for a honey recipe and had found one which included sea salt so I sprinkled a teaspoonful on the top and gently folded it in.

Over the past month or so I have been saving those big yogurt pots you get from Lidl, you know, the ones with a handle because this mixture fills two of them with just enough left over to fill half of an empty double cream carton. This will later be my indulgence

Apart from freezing that's it, so with tops on the pots, stick them in the freezer and wait six hours. You could read a book perhaps or write a nice letter to a friend it doesn't matter what, you just need something to curb your excitement. Me, I just went to bed - well, it was late!

Some hours later, yawning and stretching I wake up, stumble downstairs to make my espresso and remember the ice cream. I open the freezer and take out the small pot, not even I could have laid into it all at that time of the morning but I had to have a taste so I had a teaspoonful. It was delicious! It was smooth with a subtle, creamy taste of honey with traces of vanilla and a 'back of the tongue' hint of alcohol. I was slowly gathering all the tastes with my tongue and the ice cream had almost disappeared when I came across a hard bit, a crystal of sea salt! The contrast was striking! And then I thought - only a teaspoonful went in to quite a mass of ice cream and I had one in the first spoonful - what are the chances of that? Is it an omen? Should I buy a lottery ticket? No, I have better things to do with a £1!

Of course you don't have to rely on chance to experience this delightful contrast, you could always sprinkle a few grains on your scoop!

Other flavours I have tried are:-

Rum and raisin - soak a mugful of raisins in rum and leave overnight, strain, add the rum to the cream but keep the raisins to fold gently into the mixture at the end.

Espresso - Add two tablespoons of espresso powder (I didn't know it existed but you will find it with the instant coffees), add coffee liqueur if you can find some, otherwise whisky works well)

Blackberry - add a couple of mugfuls of blackberries into a pan and heat gently to extract the juice then strain and squeeze the pulp, cool and add the juice to the cream, add some port.

Let me know how you get on and any flavours you have discovered, but before you try I can tell you that garlic and caramelized onions doesn't do much for me!

Just remember - this is easy to make, delicious, very addictive but also fattening.


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