Oddly enough, one of my favorite things to do in the kitchen is to temper eggs and make egg custards. Funny, how something that made me anxious just few years back is now a favorite activity in the kitchen. My fear caused me to resist egg custard-based recipes for years, until I finally bit the bullet, gave it a try, and found that it’s really not so terrible or difficult.
Tempering isn’t exactly rocket science, but it is slow, measured, deliberate, patient. So if drizzling hot cream while whisking it into eggs makes you crazy just thinking about it, tempering might not be that enjoyable to you. I, on the other hand, find it meditative, much like focusing on your breath in yoga. Tempering requires that you make fast friends with your custard, one trickle of hot cream at a time, turning eggs into a lush, golden-hued, velvety fluid.
But sadly, much as tempering eggs delights me, egg-based ice creams in the summer – do not. It’s too heavy, too lush for my palate, and the peak-season fruit, which I love to use, gets obfuscated by the eggs’ thickness. Because what I really seek, what my ice cream-fervent brain craves, is a lighter, cleaner base. This is the season I turn to the American-style, eggless ice creams and don’t look back until it’s time to revisit my sweaters again. And I find that for fruit-based ice creams, with a few exceptions, it’s the better choice – the less rich ice cream base allows the fruit to really shine. Plus, when it’s as hot outside as the heat wave most of the US has just experienced, I seek cleaner, lighter flavors.
I had dog-eared this recipe from David Lebovitz’ “The Perfect Scoop” last summer – a book used so often that practically every page has a sticky finger print. Except that last year, I couldn’t get my hands on worthwhile peaches – they all ended up either in a quick summer jam or tucked into pies. But I have a long, elephant memory, and things that I don’t get around to making during one season, get filed in my brain and remain there until the season makes a come back.
Most of the time my patience pays off – it certainly paid off this time. The ice cream is luscious and summery – it teases you with the promise of a cool breeze, and stirs up desire for a porch with a swing set, and iced tea at your side and sandals carelessly thrown in the corner. Its reserved sweetness begs to be a faithful pie companion – a messy dollop melting over the crust. But if all else fails – and, like me, your apartment is like a hothouse with no breeze but the soft hiss of the air conditioner; you lack a porch, never mind a swing set; and you ate all the pie already – there’s always a spoon and a chair and a table and you.
More Ice Creams and Sorbets on Sassy Radish:
Black Pepper Ice Cream (I sure love my black pepper!)
Buttermilk Granita with Strawberries in Balsamic
Sour Cream Ice Cream
Strawberry Basil Sorbet
Peach Ice Cream with Sour Cream and Black Pepper
Adapted from David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop”
This ice cream is pretty much perfect as David wrote it – he does not write sub-par recipes, if you’re at all familiar with his work. But I wanted a little more mystery in my ice cream, which, for me, meant a tiny addition of freshly ground black pepper. With each spoon, you get a slight hint of pepper, which makes the peaches taste more, dare I say, peachy? I also used a really nice peach liquor to help with a smoother consistency, but if you wish to omit either or both from the ingredients, you certainly can.
1 1/2 pounds (600 grams) ripe peaches (about 6 small peaches, 4 large)
3/4 cup (150 grams) sugar
1/2 cup (120 grams) sour cream
1 cup (237 ml) heavy cream
1 teaspoon peach liqueur
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1. To blanch the peaches, make an X incision at the bottom of each peach, and submerge the peaches in boiling water for 20 seconds. Immediately, using a slotted spoon, plunge the peaches into an ice bath; allow peaches to cool. Once cool peel the peaches, slice them in half, and remove the pits. Cut the peaches into chunks, and cook them in 1/2 cup (118 ml) water in a medium, non-reactive saucepan, over medium heat, covered, stirring once or twice, until soft and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Remove the peaches from heat, stir in the sugar, and allow to cool to room temperature.
2. Puree the cooked peaches and their liquid, in a blender or food processor with the sour cream, heavy cream, vanilla, lemon juice and black pepper until almost smooth but slightly chunky.
3. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, at least 2 hours, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Makes 1 quart.