Going down memory lane with icecream and recipe for Fig and Vanilla Icecream
"As a kid, the only thing I really cared about was candy. Candy is the only reason you want to live when you’re a kid. Ages zero through ten, candy is your life, there’s nothing else. Family, friends, school…they’re only obstacles in the way of getting more candy."
I can say the same thing about ice cream.
As a child, my love for ice cream was pretty intense. More so because I was not allowed to eat it as frequently as I'd have liked to. I was predisposed to getting a nasty cold every now and then. The fact that my people thought eating ice cream led to colds did not help. Exam times, school competitions, all such times were strictly no-ice cream times. I wont say I was obsessed with ice cream the way Jerry was with candy. But being denied something makes you want it more. That's what happened to me.
My first favourite among ice creams was strawberry - no fancy schmancy REAL fruit ice cream - the pale pink synthetic colour and flavour of Amul suited my tastebuds just fine. Next in line came Tutti Frutti - which is it's mild orangey flavour and the colourful fruit bits (coloured and candied dried papaya for all we know) was pleasing to the eye as well as palate.
My aunt used to make these ice creams with seasonal fruits like Chikoo, Mango, Custard apple and also with those ice-cream mixes that were common in supermarkets as we were growing up. Those days, any guests coming to her place would unashamedly poke their head into her freezer to check if that aluminium dabba in which she usually freezed the good stuff was around!
Then entered Baskin Robbins. Probably that time I was low on my ice cream phase and don't recall any big favourites with them.
My short stay in the US made me a big fan of Perry's Death by Chocolate - my tastebuds could not believe that such a decadent icecream could exist. Then of course there was Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia and more such exotic flavours that made me regret that my stay in US wasn't long enough. On second thoughts, I'm happy today I gave all those excess calories a miss.
From US when we moved back to Bombay, we settled into ice cream land - Juhu - the place where Natural's Ice Cream was born. The ice cream of Juhu scheme. Anyone who has tasted Naturals will vouch for the real good taste that comes from fresh natural ingredients. Their home delivery box on any fruit ice cream will read just three ingredients: Milk, fruit and sugar. I trust them. My favourites here were the papaya-pineapple and real strawberry. When it comes to ice creams, I'll mostly go with fruit flavours or butter scotch. I'm not a big fan of chocolate in ice creams, I can eat chocolate by itself, thank you.
Today, I have all the freedom to eat ice cream as and when I please. The husband has nothing but words of encouragement when I say "I feel like having an ice cream today". Last week we shared a Willy Wonka Chocolate blast at the Cream Stone, which made me feel guilty as hell :(
There are some things you want to make more often, but we don't get around to making them. Making ice cream at home is one such thing for me. In all these years of frantic cooking, I've made kulfi twice and ice cream twice, including this one. I'll probably make it more often, now that I've almost cracked the jinx.
I came to know after 5 years of being married to S that his favourite flavour in ice creams was Fig and Honey, which is why they say marriage is a process of continuous discovery of each other :) I saw him poking his head into the Baskin Robbins counter a few days ago searching for this flavour that was out of stock or something like that - which is when the idea of making this cropped up in my mind. And I wanted to start using the vanilla pods that I'd bought in Munnar on my holiday there in April. So this was a fantastic experience for me, handling real vanilla for the first time.
Since this can be made using basic household equipment, more ice cream lovers can try this out. So here's the recipe for the eggless fig vanilla ice cream - no ice cream maker required.
Fig and Vanilla Ice cream
- Soak the figs in hot water for 3-4 hours till plump and soft. Grind to a rough puree, using some of the soaked water if required. If some pieces of fig remain, it is fine - it will fun biting into the little chewy pieces later!
- In a heavy bottomed saucepan, combine all but half cup of milk, condensed milk and sugar. Bring to a simmer.
- Slit the vanilla pod with the tip of a sharp knife - scrape out the seeds into the simmering milk. I added the empty pods into the milk too, to use any seeds that got left out inside. [If using extract, add in two teaspoons of extract after removing the mixture from the flame].
- Mix the cornflour in the reserved half cup cold milk and add to the simmering mixture. Bring to a boil. The simmering milk will thicken as the cornflour gets cooked.
- Add the fig puree at this stage. Stir / whisk well and remove from flame. [If using vanilla extract, add at this stage].
- Cool the content of the pan and pour into two plastic icecream boxes. (I used two old ice cream containers 500 ml each).
- Turn your freezer's setting to maximum and keep the boxes in the freezer for 4-6 hours.
- When the ice cream is nearly set, remove the contents of boxes into a large bowl and churn with an electric hand blender till soft and creamy, around 6-8 minutes.
- Return the content to the boxes and freeze again.
- You can repeat the same procedure after 3-4 hours and freeze for a creamier texture.
If you don't have an electric hand blender, use your food processor or else a wooden spoon to beat the mixture manually.
Taste: The ice cream was mildly sweet and very rich in flavours - vanilla with its intoxicating sweet aroma and the figs with their natural sweetness and textures. The combination worked beautifully for us. The condensed milk almost made up for the absence of the eggs - providing the rich creamy taste.
I used regular 3% milk, but you can use whole milk for better taste and more creaminess.
The only other ice cream on this blog is the Mango-coconut ice cream, which you might like to try if the mango season is still on in your part of the world.