Blackberries and Cream Ice Cream

Blackberries and Cream Ice Cream
Fruit ice creams in August are such a treat. I have been breaking all my rules about mid afternoon snacking by taking an indulgent break about 4pm to sit out in my sunny garden with a crisp buttery cone stuffed with blackberries and cream ice cream. I have lived in Stroud Green for a couple of years and this has been the first year that I have been able to make full use of my garden. Usually we have been washed inside by calamitous storms and miserable rain. However, this summer I have loved taking advantage of everything that a British summer has to offer and that includes the ever so traditional berries and cream.

I have a small confession though, this isn’t my recipe at all, I have totally cribbed it from my father’s old collection of 1980s Taste Magazines. The recipe was completely perfect as it was, all I’ve tweaked is a bit of the method and the name. Taste referred to it as Frosted Blackberry and Caramel Marble ice cream. Now, the recipe was indeed made with a caramel but that isn’t what gives the deliciously soft, smooth ice cream its flavour, it is instead made bountiful with the sweet, plump juicy blackberries and generous clouds of cream and I think that is what needs to be celebrated about this absolutely amazing ice cream which has swiftly become one of my favourites.

One of the main things I adapted about the recipe was the preparation of the blackberries as I have a bit of an issue with seeds I’ve realised. It came from an off hand comment my mother-in-law once made about the difficulty in buying seedless jams from the farmers’ markets, so last year when I made some jams that I intended to give her I made sure I sieved out the seeds in the process. This has now become second nature to me and now I really notice and am bothered by the inclusion of seeds in jams and ice creams. I bought a homemade raspberry ice lolly from the market a couple of weeks ago and the seeds were so overwhelming that it completely ruined the treat for me. I was picking them out of my teeth for the rest of the afternoon and complaining about it to anyone unlucky enough to be in my company that day. Removing the seeds is a bit of an extra step when dealing with berries but it changes the consistency to be so much smoother that it is definitely worth it. The other upside to always removing the seeds is that you will often have a large amount of fruity gubbins leftover from the sieving process which is absolutely perfect for making infused gins and vodkas which I will be posting more about in the future since I have made a lot of them over the summer.

Blackberries and Cream Ice Cream  |  Stroud Green Larder

This recipe was a bit of a revelation for me in terms of ice cream making. I love homemade ice cream but sometimes I can’t be bothered with the hard-set stuff, the kind that you have to take it out from the freezer for 20 minutes so that you don’t snap your spoon in half desperately trying to dig at it. These 20 minutes are always an endless time of frustration for me. This blackberries and cream ice cream though is proudly soft scoop. If you fancy a teaspoon of ice cream whilst you are waiting for the toast to pop up then this is ideal. Luscious and creamy direct from the freezer. It achieves the soft set by adding liquid glucose to pureed blackberries which helps the crystallisation of the sugar and also protects the fruit, as without the sugar the blackberries would freeze solid. The ice cream base is made by whisking egg whites and drizzling in a sugar syrup to form a fluffy meringue which is what gives the ice cream its texture. Billows of double cream are then folded through, giving the ice cream richness. The recipe asks that you ripple the blackberry puree through at the end but I was a bit heavy handed and I ended up pretty much mixing it all in. In hindsight this wasn’t a mistake as it was lovely to get a pure fruity hit in each cold creamy lick.

Blackberries and Cream Ice Cream
Adapted from Taste, August 1987

500g blackberries
50g icing sugar
1 tbsp liquid glucose
250g light soft brown sugar
4 egg whites
300ml double cream

  1. Pour the blackberries into a medium sized pan and heat gently with a splash of water to aid the breaking down of the berries. Once the berries have completely softened then remove them from the heat and pour into a sieve. Push the berries through, the best aid for this I think is a silicone spatula, so that all the seeds are extracted from the fruit pulp. Discard the seeds (or save to make a fruit alcohol infusion as explained above) and return the pureed blackberries back into the pan.
  2. Add the icing sugar and liquid glucose to the blackberry puree and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat then leave to cool before covering and refrigerating overnight.
  3. Meanwhile pour the brown sugar into another medium sized saucepan and add 300ml of water. Heat gently so that the sugar completely dissolves into the water. Then bring to the boil and carrying on boiling until it reaches a very thick and syrupy consistency, it should reach 112°C on a sugar thermometer and can take about 20 minutes. You must keep your eye on the saucepan at all times so that it doesn’t bubble over.
  4. In a large mixing bowl whisk up the egg whites until stiff, then drizzle in the sugar syrup in a slow steady steam whilst continuing whisking. The egg whites will turn beautifully glossy.
  5. In a separate bowl lightly whip the double cream then fold into the egg whites until they are fully incorporated. Cover the bowl with cling film and place in the fridge overnight.
  6. The next day pour the egg white and cream mixture into your ice cream machine and churn. For the last five minutes of churning drizzle in the blackberry puree. Once the ice cream has reached a thick milkshake consistency then decant the ice cream into tubs and freeze overnight to reach the correct set.

Butter Mint Ice Cream

Butter Mint Ice Cream
My husband is obsessed with car sweets, the kind that come in a metal tin drowned in icing sugar which you can buy from petrol stations.  We always seem to have a smorgasbord of different flavours spilling out of the glove compartment every time you go to retrieve the sat nav.  They are not so bad when they have just been bought, the sweets bounce around happily in the icing sugar, cheerily rattling against the metal.  However, if the sweets have had the misfortune to have endured a sweltering summer stuck in their hot tin, which they inevitably always do, then the icing sugar melts into a glue, clamping the sweets into a concrete ball.  If you are brave enough to tackle them at this stage you will have to prise one from the sickly grasp of its brethren, resulting in sticky fingers and sticky car.

These sweets are not worth the effort in my opinion and if you even succeed in wrestling one from the tin then they are usually so sweet anyway they make your mouth burn.  But I am not one for sweets, it’s sugar for sugar’s sake and I can get much more enjoyment from a biscuit.

Or, mints and toffees, which can hardly be classed as sweets can they?  Mints are refreshing and toffees are too delicious to pigeon hole.  So for obvious reasons when my husband is thoughtfully choosing his travel sweets I help him out by bunging a packet of  Murray Mints down on the counter, the best of both worlds.  They are much more sensible, much more yummy and they are in a packet and not a tin so you don’t get the painful clanging of the sweets bashing around each other as you fly over pot holes.  The only issue is that they are individually wrapped, great for the melting issue but not so great in making the car not look like a dustbin, as wrappers are discarded willy nilly with empty promises that they will be gathered up and thrown away at a later date.

Butter Mint Ice Cream  Stroud Green Larder

Fresh mint ice cream is a biggie in our house and I always take pleasure once a year of making it with the apple mint which we grow in our garden.  For some reason I can usually only make the crop of mint grow once so as soon as I’ve picked it, the herb withers away, only to rally round the next summer in time for my ice cream again.  Apple mint has a slightly furry leaf so you can tell it apart from regular garden mint but you can use either, or a mixture as I sometimes do if I don’t have enough apple mint.  This year I thought I would spruce up my mint ice cream and having had such success with David Lebovitz’s Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream in the past, I couldn’t resist adapting the recipe conjure up the perfect butteriness of a Murray Mint.

The mint nestled into this recipe perfectly, it’s at once refreshing but also comforting and incredibly moreish.  The butter caramel enriches the mint and smoothes out the zingy edges.  It’s also a very reliable recipe, I have made it a few times and it hasn’t once succumbed to icy crystals in the freezer.  It is a softer set ice cream so you don’t have to wait impatiently for the ice cream to come up to scooping temperature.  If you are suffering in this heatwave, you can dive into the freezer and in seconds be sticking a teaspoon straight into the tub with indulgence for the ideal cool down.  If only they could wrap this ice cream up for long summer journeys down the motorway and sell it at petrol stations, then I too would be obsessed with travel sweets.

Butter Mint Ice Cream

Butter Mint Ice Cream
Adapted from David Lebovitz’s Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream
Makes about 2 pints

75g fresh mint leaves, including stalks
350ml double cream
600ml whole milk
300g sugar
60g salted butter
5 egg yolks
¾ tsp vanilla extract

  1. Infuse the fresh mint by pouring the milk and cream into two separate saucepans. Split the mint between the two and heat both until just below boiling point. Leave to cool for a couple of hours, then strain and discard the mint leaves from both saucepans. Measure out 250ml of double cream and 500ml whole milk as those are the quantities you will be working with. If there is any leftover you can save for another use or discard.
  2. Fill your kitchen sink halfway up with water and pour in a lot of ice until freezing. Place a large mixing bowl into the water, so it comes halfway up the sides then pour half of the minted milk into the mixing bowl. Set a sieve over the top.
  3. Spread the sugar in a large saucepan in an even layer. Heat it up until the edges begin to melt, fold it into the centre of the sugar carefully, stirring until it’s all dissolved. Carry on cooking until the caramel begins to smoke then remove from the heat immediately.
  4. Add the butter and a pinch of salt until the butter has melted then stir in the cream. Don’t worry if the caramel seizes as it can melt again at the next stage.
  5. Place back on the heat and stir until all the caramel has melted. Then stir in the second half of the milk gradually.
  6. Whisk the yolks in a bowl, then whisk in some of the warm caramel so the eggs warm up, pour the eggs back into the caramel custard and heat. Stirring all the time until it begins to thicken.
  7. Pour into the sieve set above the rest of the minted milk in the ice bath, add the vanilla extract and then whisk constantly until the temperature has cooled.
  8. Pour the custard into a large jug, cover with cling film and place in the fridge overnight to chill.
  9. The next day churn in your ice cream machine until the consistency of a thick milkshake. Decant into tubs and place in the freezer overnight before serving.

Bourbon Sea Salt Caramels

Bourbon Sea Salt Caramels
Making your own chocolates from scratch is not a fly by night past time. It requires patience, a lovely long Sunday all to yourself, and plenty of practice. When you get it right it is so rewarding and sometimes when I look at the dinky little glossy parcels I impress myself that I managed to produce something so refined and expensive tasting in my own kitchen.

A few years ago when the new wave of chocolatiers were springing up all over London I was convinced that I had found my calling. I went to a number of classes by William Curley and Paul A Young and found the world of chocolate and everything they had to teach fascinating. Both men began their careers as pastry chefs and were lured into their focus by the endless possibilities that chocolate creates. It’s an easy subject to get excited by as it has a wonderfully rich history dating back to the Aztecs which I still remember from my visit to Bourneville from my early school days. It’s funny the history lessons that stick. The cultural impact of chocolate is immense, we almost seem to take it for granted in the current climate but it really is a very sacred ingredient and of course it’s the best food out there. Anyone who disagrees is just wrong.

Bourbon Sea Salt Caramels  |  Stroud Green Larder

I remember a girl at school who was allergic to chocolate which she wore as a badge of honour. We all felt tremendously sorry for her though, especially when it was ice cream and chocolate sauce day, which was the most delicious meal to be produced by our school kitchens. As soon as the chocolate hit the ice cream it hardened, but it wasn’t like the commercialised Magic Shell stuff you can get in America, it was thick, sticky and sweet. Who knows how they made it work, I think it involved lots of golden syrup, but that recipe must be on my blogging to do list.

These particular Bourbon Sea Salt Caramels are filled with boozy treacly caramel. They are simply wonderful, not too intense like some liqueur chocolates can be and not too sweet like some caramel. The salt adds the spark to get your palette going and so they quickly become addictive. Don’t worry though, they take so long to make that you certainly won’t be making them every day. They are a treat, both in terms of creating and eating.

Bourbon Sea Salt Caramels  |  Stroud Green LarderThe moulds I used to produce these chocolates were plastic moulds rather than silicone. They were about £4 and you can pick them up from numerous places online but I do recommend as they have such a wide variety. I have silicone moulds too but I find the plastic ones easier to use as there’s a lot of banging and scraping involved at the filling stage which is just a bit tricky with floppy silicone. Although a word to the wise, which should be obvious but is worth repeating if you are from my class of stupid. When I first invested in a lot of chocolate moulds I found them hard to clean – because they are. Do not though, put them in the dishwasher. Mine were not expensive catering moulds and they completely melted and rendered them useless. It put an end to my chocolate making career for a while whilst I saved up to buy new ones. So, like all of your most treasured of kitchen appliances, you will have to wash them up by hand.

Before you get going I would recommend watching one of the copious amounts of YouTube videos on how to fill chocolate moulds. Although I will try below it’s not easy to explain and like all the best techniques it’s much easier to understand if you watch it. Again, like anything, practice definitely makes perfect, I’m certainly no expert but the more times I make my own chocolates the better I am getting and the less chocolate I am wasting.

Bourbon Sea Salt Caramels  |  Stroud Green LarderSo, to fill your moulds you will need some tempered chocolate. You can see my earlier post on how to temper chocolate. Pour your tempered chocolate liberally over the mould until each individual chocolate pocket is full of chocolate and there is plenty of chocolate sitting on the surface of the mould, don’t be stingy, the excess can easily be recycled.

Bang it against the work surface. Then pick up the mould and tap it continually, turning it around and about so the chocolate is encouraged to eek into the corners of the pockets.

Then flip the mould completely upside down so you are holding it over a large bowl, letting all the chocolate drip out, carry on tapping and shaking the mould. When the drips lessen scrape the surface of the mould with a palette knife, with the mould still upside down.

Turn the mould back the right way and place down to let it settle for about 10 seconds. Turn it upside down again over the large bowl and the second wave of chocolate will now start to drip out. It won’t be a downpour like before as the chocolate will be thickening, just carry on tapping and shaking, and then scrape the surface with the palette knife again.

Now place the mould upside down on a sheet of baking parchment so the chocolate can slowly slip down the sides of the mould and there is an even layer of chocolate inside. Leave it for about 3-4 minutes, then lift it up and scrape the surface with a palette knife for the final time. Leave to set for about an hour before filling your chocolates.

Pour your filling into a piping bag and fill your chocolates carefully. Do not overfill. Then you can finish off your chocolates straightaway if your chocolate is in temper.

Pour a liberal amount of the tempered chocolate over the surface of the chocolate mould, making sure that each chocolate is generously covered. Then take your palette knife and scrape away the excess, it should leave a lovely thin film of chocolate over each individual chocolate. Leave to set for 1 hour before flipping your mould over. Each chocolate should pop out very easily.

Bourbon Sea Salt Caramels  |  Stroud Green Larder

Bourbon Sea Salt Caramels

Makes about 30 chocolates

100g caster sugar
1 tsp dark muscovado sugar
½ tsp fleur de sel
60ml whipping cream
75g cold unsalted butter, cubed
1 tbsp bourbon
300g tempered dark chocolate

  1. In a medium saucepan heat the sugars with the fleur de sel on a gentle heat. Do not stir but shake the pan around occasionally so the sugars melt evenly. Be careful as the sugars can burn quickly.
  2. When just melted and turning a golden brown remove from the heat, then pour in the whipping cream. It will bubble up a lot so be cautious.
  3. Then add the butter and keep on stirring.
  4. Once all the butter has melted stir in the bourbon until it has all mixed together evenly.
  5. Leave to cool for a couple of hours whereupon the bourbon will mellow out and the caramel will thicken slightly.
  6. Meanwhile you can be tempering your chocolate as described here.
  7. Then coat your moulds with chocolate as described above, leave to set for about an hour.
  8. Fill your chocolate moulds with the thickened caramel, making sure not to overfill.
  9. Then you can straightaway pour some more tempered chocolate over the top of the mould, scrape a palette knife over the surface of the mould to remove the excess chocolate then leave to set for about 1 hour.
  10. Turn the moulds upside down and the chocolates should happily drop out.

Scotch Whisky Caramel Shortbread Bars

 Scotch Whisky Caramel Shortbread Bars

The reason for tripping to Edinburgh this weekend past was to go to The Kitchin on our wedding anniversary.  My husband had fallen in love with Tom Kitchin’s cooking watching The Great British Menu years ago and had always longed to go and taste the real deal.  So this year, as it was a big anniversary, we packed off the cats to mums and the puppy to my in-laws (my mum definitely got the better end of the deal).  We had one unsettlingly quiet night at home without them before our flight making us realise how chaotic homelife has become since we began raising a zoo.

Our Scottish jaunt was put in slight jeopardy on the morning we left due to the worrying reports of torrential flooding and cancelled flights.  Impending doom did not deter us and although the December winds chilled us to the bone when we finally got there we felt the first snowflakes of the year kiss our noses as we soldiered up the steep climb to Edinburgh Castle.

The food was every bit as wonderful as we had hoped.  Kitchin resides by the water in Leith and was cosy respite from the weather.  The delicately imagined food was served by a friendly and knowledgable team who made us feel so at home even though the food was from another world.  Between us we had the game tasting menu and land and sea tasting menu, each were six courses.

I don’t like taking photographs in restaurants I’m afraid as I would never be able to do justice to the look and aroma of restaurant food thanks to dingy lighting which even the best filters on instagram couldn’t fix.  Plus when I go to restaurants I like the surprise of not knowing exactly what I’m getting.  That is also the joy of a tasting menu.  I don’t have to bother with the pesky business of choosing what to eat. As I’ve mentioned before I’m a lazy orderer and the chef always knows better than me what I should be eating.  Tom Kitchin was not wrong in this regard, roe deer carpaccio, pumpkin veloute with sautéed mallard heart and a jellied partridge consommé and Kitchin’s signature dish of razor clams were the stand out dishes.  The service was impeccable, the wine divine and the evening one to savour.


Taking full advantage of the fact we were on holiday we crammed in as much good food as possible and we also splashed out at the seafood restaurant Ondine, just off the Royal Mile.  It must be one of the best meals I have had all year.  Amuse bouche of goujons were warm little breadcrumbed balls oozing creamy haddock, making you realise why restaurants still give us amuse bouche.  It’s not just pointless filler after all, instead, it was the kick off to an amazing meal.  We ate our weight in garlic buttered roasted seafood and a rich creamy fish stew bolstered by huge chunks of fish, scallops, mussels sprinkled with molten cheese and rouille.

We stayed in the Rutland Hotel for the three nights which has two restaurants attached to it.  The Huxley which is an informal affair slinging a variety of hotdogs and small plates.  The best dish I tasted there was the cauliflower and coriander fritter with beetroot houmous which greeted us an hour after our plane had touched down along with raspberry negronis.  The Rutland also offers a fancier alternative, Kyloe, a self titled gourmet steak restaurant with half a cow sticking out of the front of the building to really hammer the point home.  We had a wonderful lentil dip offered with our bread at the start of the meal, it was so nice to have something different than a bit of butter.  A starter of mussels drowning in cream and garlic was worth the visit alone.  Although the rib-eye steak was average, the thick cut beef dripping chips would knock the socks off any chip in the offering.



The other meal definitely worth a mention was a wind whippingly cold jaunt to the Saturday morning farmers market on Castle Terrace where wishes of pig in a poke were granted and then some.  Oink served soft white rolls smeared with haggis and stuffed with the most tender melting pulled pork, salty crisp crackling and topped with a fresh apple sauce.  Pulled pork rolls have become disappointing over the years but this has reawakened how indulgent they can be, the haggis adding real depth of flavour.

We rolled ourselves onto the plane on the way home laden with Edinburgh gin, haggis and tartan.  I abstained from bringing the omnipresent shortbread home with me, instead all I wanted to do was bake a batch, so I did as soon as I got home and added a little something extra.  These are like millionaire shortbreads but with the emphasis on the rich buttery biscuit rather than a thick caramel which can sometimes be a bit cloying.  Plus, whisky!  Lovely with a hot toddy.  Go on dip it, I dare you, and dream of a snow capped Edinburgh Castle.

Scotch Whisky Caramel Shortbread Bars

For the shortbread bars:
225g unsalted butter
100g caster sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
250g plain flour
75g cornflour
A pinch of salt

For the whisky caramel:
125g caster sugar
150ml double cream
20g butter
2 tbsp scotch whisky
50g dark chocolate

  1. Preheat the oven to 180. Line and grease a 20cm square baking tin.
  2. Beat the butter and sugar together for a couple of minutes until fully incorporated.
  3. Add the vanilla extract, stir to combine.
  4. Sift together the plain flour, cornflour and salt then add to the butter and sugar. Beat until it starts to come together, then tip into the baking tin and press the dough into the tin.
  5. Bake for 20-30 mins until the top is just starting to turn golden.
  6. Leave to cool for an hour in the tin before removing and cutting into bars.
  7. Tip the caster sugar into a small saucepan and heat on a medium temperature until the sugar melts. Do not touch with a spoon but you can encourage the melting by swirling the actual saucepan around occasionally if you like.
  8. Once melted, carefully stir in the double cream and butter, the caramel may harden slightly but just keep on stirring the bubbly mixture until the cream, butter and sugar are smooth. Then add the whisky, stir in quickly and remove from the heat.
  9. Leave to cool slightly before drizzling over the shortbread bars.
  10. Melt the chocolate then drizzle immediately over the shortbread bars.