I’ve always been a little bit in awe of those beautiful satiny pillow sized swirly meringues that you find in expensive delicatessens and continental patisseries. They are so stunning to look at it almost seems a shame to plunge a spoon into them and break them up. Somehow the promise of a chewy, marshmallowy centre always persuades me though. Obviously you can use other flavourings for the swirl in these. Chopped chocolate and cocoa powder work as do other fruit coulis.
My basil plant has got itself all over-excited so I’ve been trying to think of a more interesting way of utilising it than a bog standard pesto.
I’ve been a convert to basil ice cream ever since I had my first taste of it at Terre a Terre in Brighton. They served it with raspberry sorbet and strawberries dressed with balsamic vinegar. Serving it with something sweetly acidic really compliments the flavour of the basil. Even if you aren’t the meringue making type I would recommend that you serve this ice cream with either strawberries or raspberries in some form.
I would love to thank whoever worked out that mixing cream and condensed milk results in flawless ice cream without having to put all that effort into remembering to beat it every few hours. Don’t get me wrong, for me very few things can surpass a ‘properly’ home made ice cream. My Mum makes a spectacular vanilla ice cream and if you drop enough hints also a wonderful Christmas pudding ice cream (does this count as a hint?) This cheats version requires a lot less effort, forward planning and ingredients so I have to say it wins me over every time.
Raspberry Ripple Meringues
100g fresh or frozen raspberries
15g icing sugar
2 egg whites
1 tsp corn flour
100g caster sugar
1/2 tsp vinegar
Using a small saucepan cook the raspberries with the icing sugar until soft and a little mushy.
Push the fruit through a fine sieve to make a smooth fruit puree. Discard the remaining seeds and allow the coulis to cool. Set aside.
Preheat your oven to 120°c.
Using a spotless bowl, whisk the egg whites until they hold their shape. Whisk in the vinegar. Continue whisking and add the sugar, a couple of tablespoons at a time. You want to reach the stage where the meringue will hold stiff peaks and if you rub a little between your fingers it is completely smooth without any gritty trace of the sugar. Once you have achieved this mix through the corn flour. The corn flour and vinegar will give the meringue a chewy marshmallowy middle once cooked.
Drizzle one tablespoon of the raspberry coulis on the surface of the meringue mixture (don’t worry about the left over coulis, keep it to one side and use it as a garnish when serving.) Using a palate knife very carefully marble the coulis through the meringue, if you are too zealous at this point you’ll end up with pink meringues instead of rippled ones.
Spoon four large, rounded, blobs of the mixture onto a baking sheet lined with baking parchment. Bake for 2 hours until the outsides of the meringues are shiny and crisp. Once they are cooked I tend to turn the oven off and open the door a little but leave the meringues in there to cool. Otherwise take them out of the oven but leave them on the tray until you are ready to serve them.
No-churn Basil ice cream
300ml double cream
175g sweetened condensed milk
If your using home-grown basil then it’s a good idea to wash it and gently pat it dry before you use it.
I like to steep the basil in the cream to really boost the flavour in the final product. It’s always worth remembering with ice cream that freezing dulls the flavour a little.
Scrunch the leaves up a little bit and pop them, along with the cream into a smallish pan over a low heat for 10-15 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
Once the cream and basil is cool use a stick blender (or something similar) to blitz it all together. Strain this through a fine sieve into a large bowl. This should leave you will a muted green coloured cream without any bits of basil leaf left in it.
It’s a good idea to chill this in the bowl for a bit – this will give you better results when you whip it.
When you are satisfied that the cream is cold enough add the condensed milk and whip together until thick and fairly stiff. Pour into a freeze-able container and freeze until firm. Indulge.