Sunday, August 31, 2008

Toasted Almond and Brandied Nectarine Ice Cream

Yes, more frozen treats. I know, it's enough already, but summer is almost over, at least officially with the end of August and all (although I'm hopeful about it lasting a bit through September...) and there won't be much time left to make this seasonal dessert without it chilling us to the bone.

I only made ice cream once before this summer. I was at camp and I was about nine. The whole process required ten of us, a ton of cream and eggs and big pots and pans, and a huge contraption made of wood and metal, an absurd amont of ice and salt, and what seemed like hours of cranking and cranking. Clearly, this was not something you would ever try at home.

That was my vision of making ice cream, something you could not do unless you had many small children tricked into thinking this was "fun," or something you might be able to muster if you had a fancy ice cream machine, but a task that would be ridiculously complicated and arduous.

My thoughts about all this changed after reading Food and Wine's wonderful article on Jeni Britton of Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream in June. Her recipes are so creative and accessible they got me thinking... and the concept of egg-free ice cream that still tastes wonderful was extremely exciting. So after a little internet research and some trial and error I figured out a way to make ice cream and sorbet without a machine. Ms. Britton's article changed my summer, and I'm sure my friends weren't too upset about it either.

This recipe is basically an alternate take on Ms. Britton's Pistachio Ice Cream recipe, which I made for my birthday.

Toasted Almond and Brandied Nectarine Ice Cream


2 c. whole milk
1 T. + 1 t. cornstarch
3 T. plain yogurt
1 1/4 c. heavy cream
2/3 c. sugar
1 1/2 T. light corn syrup
3/4 c. slivered almonds
1/2 t. almond extract
1/4 t. kosher salt
2 large nectarines
1/3 c. sugar
1/4 c. brandy

1. Lay out almonds on cookie sheet. Bake at 300 degrees F for 5- 10 minutes, shaking occasionally, until toasted. Be careful to watch, they will burn quickly. Let cool. Put toasted almonds in food processor. Grind until they are a fine meal. Set aside.

2. In small bowl mix 2 T. of milk with cornstarch. In another large bowl, whisk yogurt until smooth.

3. In large saucepan combine remaining milk with cream, 2/3 c. sugar, and corn syrup. Bring mix to boil. Cook over moderate heat until sugar dissolves. Off heat, gradually mix in cornstarch mixture. Return to a boil and cook over moderately high heat until mixture is slightly thickened, about 1 minute.

4. Gradually mix milk mixture into yogurt until smooth. Whisk in almonds, almond extract, and salt. Put bowl in refrigerator for half an hour to an hour.

5. While milk mixture is cooling, cut up nectarines and peel off skins. Put them in food processor and pulse until they are very small pieces. Put pieces into a small bowl. Mix in brandy and 1/3 c. sugar. Let stand half an hour to one hour.

6. After milk mixture is cool, move to freezer or ice cream maker. If putting in ice cream maker, add nectarines now. If following stand and freeze method, wait.

7. Stand and freeze: after about one hour: whisk mixture, add nectarines. Continue waiting half an hour to one hour between whisking mixture for four to six hours, after which you can transfer ice cream to intended container or if leaving in the bowl, cover and let freeze.

8. Serve and enjoy.

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