Darina Allen: Homemade frozen treats

I adore homemade ice creams, sorbets and granitas, the latter is a granular version of a sorbet or water ice, so no cream and the ice is whisked while freezing or grated when frozen to produce a more granular texture.

Of course one can buy a Whippie or a 99 (why was it called that?) with a million different scary toppings and drizzles but it bears as much resemblance to homemade ice cream as mayo does to the well-known brand and probably has a similar number of additives. 

Check out Joanna Blythman’s book Swallow This if you want the exact details.

There are of course several artisan ice creams that are worth seeking out, Murphy’s in Dingle for example but many are confined to a particular geographic area so here are a few simple recipes to whip up your own.

First I include a recipe for Ballymaloe vanilla bean ice cream, the all-time favourite of Ballymaloe guests for over 50 years. 

This recipe which is made on an Italian egg mousse base has been made at Ballymaloe since before the restaurant was opened. 

Apart from being rich and delicious it’s a particularly brilliant recipe because one doesn’t need an ice cream maker – just a freezer. 

A food mixer is an advantage to whisk the mousse but certainly not essential. My mother in law Myrtle Allen made the ice cream originally with the rich cream from Ivan’s herd of pure bred Jersey cows. 

Use the best cream you can find and the seeds from a vanilla pod or a teaspoon of pure vanilla extract, not essence which as the saying goes ‘was never next nor near a vanilla pod in its’ life’, it’s totally synthetic.

The custard base ices can also be delicious and as with the Ballymaloe recipe, can be adapted to many different flavours, however for best results they need to be made in an ice cream churn.

 These can be expensive, the excellent Gaggia costs €300 approximately but don’t dismiss the Kenwood model where you pop the base into the freezer 24 or 48 hours before using. 

They actually work brilliantly and are a mere €40-€50 and maybe less if you keep an eye out for bargains during sales. Homemade ice creams are super easy to make and the Sicilian lemon ice is even simpler still and is deliciously refreshing on its own or with a variety of summer fruits. 

The coconut and lime ice is the easiest of all and is sublime with a ripe juicy pineapple. I always loved wafers so why not buy a few packets and freeze the ice cream in a loaf tin so it’ll be easy to slice to make your own homemade wafers.

If perchance you are popping over to London, do a little googling before you leave. Check out where my friend Kitty Travers has her La Grotto ice cream cart – it’ll be easy to find, when you come close there’s always a queue. 

The ice creams are made totally with seasonal ingredients and delicious original combinations - anyone for raspberry and fig leaf ice cream, Brixton mulberry and Brixton Jersey cream, Sicilian chocolate and caper, or loganberry and custard? If you get hooked (and that’s pretty easy!). 

Kitty will teach the occasional ice cream class at the School of Artisan Food in Welbeck, next one is August 23rd 2017.

Ballymaloe vanilla ice cream

Really good cream makes really good ice cream. This recipe is made on an egg-mousse base with softly whipped cream. It produces a deliciously rich ice cream with a smooth texture that does not need further whisking during the freezing period. 

This ice cream should not be served frozen hard; remove it from the freezer at least 10 minutes before serving. 

You can add other flavourings to the basic recipe: liquid ingredients such as melted chocolate or coffee should be folded into the mousse before adding the cream. 

For chunkier ingredients such as chocolate chips or muscatel raisins soaked in rum, finish the ice cream, semi-freeze it and then stir them through, otherwise they will sink to the bottom.

Serves 12–16

4 organic egg yolks

100g (3 1/2oz/scant 1/2 cup) sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or seeds from 1/3 vanilla pod

1.2 litres (2 pints/5 cups) softly whipped cream (measured after it is whipped, for accuracy)

Put the egg yolks into a bowl and whisk until light and fluffy (keep the whites for meringues).

 Combine the sugar with 200ml (7fl oz/scant 1 cup) of water in a small heavy-based saucepan. Stir over heat until the sugar is completely dissolved, then remove the spoon and boil the syrup until it reaches the ‘thread’ stage, about 106–113°C (223–235°F): it will look thick and syrupy, and when a metal spoon is dipped in the last drops of syrup will form thin threads. 

Pour this boiling syrup in a steady stream onto the egg yolks, whisking all the time by hand. (If you are whisking the mousse in a food mixer, remove the bowl and whisk the boiling syrup in by hand; otherwise it will solidify on the sides of the bowl.) 

Add the vanilla extract or vanilla seeds and continue to whisk the mixture until it becomes a thick, creamy white mousse.

This is the stage at which, if you’re deviating from this recipe, you can add liquid flavourings such as coffee. Fold the softly whipped cream into the mousse, pour into a bowl, cover and freeze.

Brown bread ice cream

This is also known as ‘poor man’s praline ice cream’ because it gives a similar texture but uses cheaper ingredients.

 This is a great way to use up brown soda or wholemeal yeast breadcrumbs that would otherwise be wasted.


Serves 12–16

Ballymaloe Vanilla Ice Cream

350g (12oz) brown soda or wholemeal yeast breadcrumbs

150g (5oz) vanilla sugar

150g (5oz) soft dark-brown sugar


Make the Ballymaloe vanilla ice cream and freeze.

Preheat the oven to 230°C/450°F/gas mark 4. Spread the chunky breadcrumbs on a baking tray. Sprinkle with sugar and toast in the oven for 10–15 minutes. 

Stir every 4 or 5 minutes until the sugar caramelises and coats the breadcrumbs. Turn out onto a Silpat mat and leave to cool. 

Pulse the caramelised breadcrumbs into small, chunky bits in a food-processor. 

When the ice cream is semi-frozen, fold in the mixture and freeze until fully frozen.

=======================Thai coconut sorbet with pineapple and mint

Serve 4 - 6

1 x 400ml (14fl ozs/1 3/4 cups) tin coconut milk

3oz (75g/1 cup) sugar

5fl ozs (150ml/generous 1/2 cup) water

juice of 1 lemon or 2 limes

1 small fresh pineapple

a little castor sugar (to sugar pineapple)

fresh mint leaves

First make the sugar syrup. Put the sugar and water into a small saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer for 2 or 3 minutes. Cool and refrigerate. When the syrup is chilled, whisk in the coconut milk and freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice to taste.

Make the sorbet in one of the following ways.

1. Pour into the drum of an ice-cream maker or sorbetiere and freeze for 20-25 minutes. Scoop out and serve immediately or store in a covered bowl in the freezer until needed.

2. Pour the juice into a stainless steel or plastic container and put into the freezing compartment of a refrigerator. After about 4-5 hours when the sorbet is semi-frozen, remove from the freezer and whisk until smooth, then return to the freezer. Whisk again when almost frozen and fold in one stiffly-beaten egg white. Keep in the freezer until needed.

3. If you have a food processor simply freeze the sorbet completely in a stainless steel or plastic bowl, then break into large pieces and whizz up in the food processor for a few seconds. Add one slightly beaten egg white, whizz again for another few seconds, then return to the bowl and freeze again until needed.

Serve on chilled plates with sugared pineapple, sprinkle a little chopped mint over the top.

Sicilian lemon ice cream  with crystalised lemon peel

This is a fresh tangy light ice-cream and is made from milk rather than cream. Easy peasy to make and a delight at the end of any meal.

Serves 4

1 free range egg

250ml (9fl oz/generous 1 cup) milk

130g (5oz/half cup) castor sugar

zest and juice of 1 lemon

Garnish crystallised lemon peel, fresh mint leaves and borage flowers.

Separate the egg, whisk the yolk with the milk and keep the white aside. Gradually mix in the sugar. Carefully grate the zest from the lemon on the finest part of a stainless-steel grater. 

Squeeze the juice from the lemon and add with the zest to the liquid. Whisk the egg white until quite stiff and fold into the other ingredients. Freeze in a sorbetiere according to the manufacturer’s instructions or put in a freezer in a covered plastic container.

When the mixture starts to freeze, remove from the freezer and whisk again, or break up in a food processor. Then put it back in the freezer until it is frozen completely. Meanwhile, chill the serving plates.

To serve: Scoop the ice-cream into the curls, arrange on chilled plates or in pretty frosted glass dishes. Decorate with crystallised lemon peel, borage flowers and fresh mint leaves if you have them.

Variations: Instead of the lemon juice and zest, use three tablespoons (three American tablespoons +three teaspoons) of elderflower syrup and one teaspoon of lemon juice.

Proportions will depend on how sweet the flower syrup is.

Just follow recipe as for lemon ice-cream (milk, egg and sugar).

The Prince of Wales ice-cream

This recipe, presumably a favourite of the prince of Wales, is even simpler to make than the Sicilian lemon ice-cream.

It is basically a very rich sugar-flavoured iced cream with a dense
consistency. You can make with ordinary unrefined demerara sugar and the result is delicious. 

However, we have used muscovado sugar; the result is something really special. This is another recipe for food historians and those interested in what ices used to be like. It’s one of the easiest recipes in the book.

Dark muscovado sugar or unrefined brown sugar, 85g (3oz)

Whipping heavy cream (36% fat), 500ml (16fl oz)

Makes about 1.2lt (40fl oz)

In a bowl, start whisking the cream and slowly adding the sugar but make sure the sugar is soft before you start.

Whip until it will hold stiff peaks and then quickly scrape into a freezer box. Then gently knock the box on the kitchen worktop. This will remove air pockets in the ice-cream. Cover with freezer film or greaseproof paper and then freeze overnight and preferably for 3 days to let the flavour develop.

Taken from Ice-Creams, Sorbets and Gelati The Definitive Guide by
Caroline and Robin Weir. Published by Grub Street Publishing

>Anna Del Conte’s Strawberry Ice Cream with Balsamic Vinegar

The rich dark flavour of the balsamic vinegar cuts into the delicate sweetness of the ice cream and achieves a perfect balance of flavours. It seems to have the same effect in strawberry ice cream – in short, excellent.

Ripe fresh strawberries, 450 g (1 lb)

Unrefined granulated sugar, 150 g (51/4 oz)

Balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon

Whipping – heavy cream, (36% fat), 150 ml (51/4 fl oz)

It makes about 875 ml (30 fl oz) Wash and hull the strawberries. Dry them thoroughly with kitchen paper and put them in a food processor or blender with the sugar. Set the machine in motion and add the balsamic vinegar through the lid or funnel.

Continue to blend until the ingredients have combined to a smooth puree and then pour this into a bowl.

Cover tightly and refrigerate for 2-3 hours, the sugar and vinegar will bring out the flavour of the fruit.

When ready, combine the strawberry puree and the cream and then either still or stir freeze and store.

Serve within one hour or if frozen solid, allow 30 minutes in the fridge to soften sufficiently before serving.

Taken from Ice Creams, Sorbets and Gelati The Definitive Guide by Caroline and Robin Weir. Published by Grub Street Publishing

Hands-on Gluten Free Cooking

In response to many many requests we are offering a hands-on gluten free class. 

As anyone who is coeliac, or who cooks for someone who has a gluten intolerance, will testify it can be challenging to produce really delicious, balanced meals. 

We continually test recipes and add to our repertoire so this is suitable both for the newly-diagnosed coeliac, who has never baked before, as well as the more experienced cook. 

This course is created for those on a gluten-free diet who face the dilemma of longing to taste ‘real’ food. 

You’ll learn about a whole range of tasty and easy-to-prepare dishes including gluten-free sweet and savoury pastry, salmon with coriander pesto and gluten free raspberry muffins. 

Suddenly, cooking for coeliacs will become a pleasure not a chore. 

Advice on alternative ingredients and lots of baking tips will help take the mystery out of successful gluten-free cooking at the day long course on September 8; www.cookingisfun.ie, 021 4646785.

Hot tips

I’m always very wary of books that purport to be ‘the complete or definitive guide’ to something or other but I have to say this book is pretty impressive and certainly merits a place in the Ballymaloe Cookery School library:

Ice Creams, Sorbets and Gelati The Definitive Guide by Caroline and Robin Weir. Published by Grub Street Publishing

Date for your diary

Don’t miss A Taste of West Cork Food Festival

, unquestionably one of the foremost food festivals in Ireland. 

This year it runs from 8th-17th September, jam packed with exciting and inspirational events, cookery demonstrations, Farmers Markets, Food Trails, Talks and discussions.


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