A little indulgence goes a long way to lift your spirits and if a walk in the park and the delights of spring blossom and trees bursting into leaf is not enough to let go of the whirlwind of information and worry the COVID-19 pandemic burdens your mind with, try focusing your attention on the process of, lovingly, making this ice cream (and eating it).
It’s a process that starts a week before you want to enjoy it, so you can build up an anticipation that is almost as good as waiting for Santa to come along. Every self-respecting German cook has a bottle of the real thing, ‘Strohrum’ (54% alcohol), in the pantry – and that’s what I use. However, if you don’t have access to it and, as the borders are currently closed for international travel, you’ll have to head down to your local LIDL (‘other supermarkets are available’, but sooo much more expensive when it comes to this item) and get yourself a bottle of cane rum (40% alcohol). Never mind, it’ll do.
First things first: steep about 4 heaped tablespoons of sultanas in a very generous measure of rum, covering them generously. Wait a week.
If you use an ice cream maker, put it in the deep freeze a day before making the ice cream.
Then, make a rich creme anglais:
- measure out 200 mL full-fat milk and 200 mL double cream (you can make it leaner with a 300/100 mL mix without losing flavour) and heat it in a double boiler (bain marie)
- if you don’t have one, place a heat-proof glass bowl into a slightly smaller pan with half an inch of simmering water, without the bowl touching the water
- you can split half a vanilla pod and infuse it (or use vanilla extract)
- while the milk/cream is warming up, separate 4 eggs
- set the egg whites aside for use elsewhere (Eiweißkuchen and Fior de Mandorle are ideas)
- whisk the egg yolks with 2 generous table spoons of caster sugar until creamy and frothy
- once the milk is hot (it should never boil), gradually transfer several ladles into the egg mix and keep whisking
- add the egg/milk mix into the bain marie and continuously, gently stir it with a wooden spoon until the back of the spoon retains a film of the creme anglais when lifted out
- it is important not to over-heat the mixture to avoid curdling, while keeping it hot enough to achieve the semi-set – a balance that is easy to achieve with a little practice (turning on and off the hob may be necessary)
- once done, let the creme anglais cool to room temperature, then overnight in the fridge
Make rum & raisin ice cream
- turn on the ice cream maker and add the cooled creme anglais, sultanas and remaining rum infusion, now sweet and yummy
- follow the ice cream maker instructions to finish churning
- transfer to an air tight container and freeze
- there is enough alcohol in this ice cream for it to remain pleasantly soft, no matter how long it has been in the freezer
If you don’t use an ice cream maker, just search the web for the freeze-churn-freeze-churn method – there are plenty out there….
Of course, you can use the creme anglais base to make less alcoholic, more child-friendly versions. You can add just about anything to it: stem ginger, lightly stewed summer fruit, even the ever-so-runny home-made strawberry jam that you can’t use on toast… use your imagination and be generous with ingredients, you can’t go wrong (well, maybe that’s not quite so).