I’ve always preferred eating ice cream when the weather is cold. Don’t get me wrong, winter, spring, summer or fall, all it’s gotta do is call and I’ll eat it, yeah, yeah, yeah, ice cream’s my friend. But my preference is to devour it when it’s chilly outside.
Vanilla, strawberry, salted caramel with white chocolate chunks, mango, ‘Phish Food’, I don’t discriminate. I love it all. But not equally. I am much more inclined to choose something with texture, you know like mix-ins or chunks as opposed to just a plain flavour. I’m also not a fan of impersonators; low fat, frozen yoghurt, sorbet, ice blocks, granita. If I am desperate then sure, but choice numero uno every time is good old-fashioned ice cream.
I’ve written before about how, like music, food carries memories and I think no food does this better than ice cream. The minute a paddle pop hits my lips I’m 6 years old at my grandparent’s beach house with not a worry in the world. Likewise, whenever I’m downing Cookies and Cream, I’m transported back to California and my university days, where I first discovered this tasty wonder of ‘nature’.
Although I have made it from scratch many times before (it’s really not that hard, just time consuming), I don’t tend to do it much these days. Rather, I prefer to make it the ‘cheats way.’ To do this you need to buy the best quality ice cream you can afford in whatever flavour you want and soften it out of the freezer for about 15 minutes.
Once it’s soft, you need to mix through whatever you like, for example, chopped up chocolate bars, your favourite roasted nuts, crushed biscuits, anything at all! After you’ve mixed your add-ins through, you set the ice cream back in the freezer until firm, about half an hour. And you’re done!
The options are endless for this. You can serve it at a dinner party and tell the guests you made it, because, um, you actually did! And the best part? It will take you about 3 seconds to do every time! My mother in law recently made Halva ice cream using this technique. It was divine!
I once posted a photo on the PHOODIE Facebook page of my sister Natalie’s famous meringue and hazelnut ice cream cake. I have never before been so inundated with requests for a recipe in my life than I was that day! The crowds went mad for it. I didn’t’ get around to putting it on the blog but what better way to share it than in a post celebrating the wonder that is ice cream! Enjoy!
Natalie’s Meringue and Hazelnut Praline Ice Cream Cake
(Makes a 23cm round cake)
9 egg whites (3 egg whites per meringue)
2 1/4 cups caster sugar (3/4 cup per meringue, which is 1/4 cup per egg white)
1 cap white wine vinegar
1 cup good quality dark chocolate chunks (1/3 cup per meringue)
1 cup toffee hazelnuts, crushed (1/3 cup per meringue) Note: I buy them covered in toffee i.e. hazelnut praline, but you can make your own if you prefer. Almond praline also works well.
The Ice Cream
2L good quality store bought vanilla ice cream
2 cups toffee hazelnuts, crushed
Ganache: Melt together 200g dark chocolate with 100ml thickened cream slowly over a medium heat, stirring constantly. Allow to cool slightly, then serve over cake.
4 large fresh figs, sliced – to decorate top of cake
1/3 cup toffee hazelnuts – to decorate top of cake
1) ICE CREAM. You will need two 23cm baking paper lined cake tins. Remove store bought ice cream from freezer to soften. Once softened, in a large mixing bowl, place ice cream, and crushed nuts and stir to combine. Divide this mixture in half, scooping each half into a lined tin. Smooth down top and place back into freezer to set.
2) MERINGUE DISCS. Firstly, place the 9 egg whites in to an electric mixer bowl on high speed. It is important that once the mixer has been turned on that it is not turned off until the meringue mixture has been made.
Once the egg whites have whipped to form soft peaks you can start slowly adding the sugar. The mixture will gradually become glossy and stiff peaks will form, but you must not turn the machine off at any point!
When you have reached stiff peaks, add in the vinegar and mix for another minute or so. You can now turn the machine off and gently fold through the chocolate and nuts.
Divide mixture evenly into 3, placing each third on a baking paper lined tray. Sculpt each third into (approx.) a 23cm circle. Place into oven (170 deg. cel. fan forced) for about 20 mins or until meringue is coloured on top. Remove to cool.
3) ASSEMBLE. Place a meringue disc in the centre of your serving platter, remove an ice cream disc and place it on top of the base meringue disc, place the second meringue disc on top of the ice cream layer and then place the second ice cream layer on top of this. Finally, place the third meringue disc on top. Decorate the top of the cake with sliced figs and crushed nuts and pour ganache over to serve.
What is your favourite ice cream flavour? What memories do you have when it comes to eating ice cream? Do you also prefer eating it in winter?