Strictly speaking this is a parfait, not an ice cream*, but if I called it a Strawberry Parfait on the menu people would expect a liver and fruit terrine… no really, they would, believe me.
I don’t have an ice cream maker, which is why I opt for a parfait- which doesn’t require any churning or stirring. The trade-off is that it requires a little extra fannying-about in the preparation which you may find somewhat off-putting, in which case you could always pop to the nearest convenience store for your handmade Strawberry and Turkish Rose Ice cream…oh, no hang on, sorry…you could always pop to the shops for some mass produced predictable-flavour fruitless whipped air in a plastic container that all your guests will see you get out of the freezer.
I should also mention, this recipe is out of the question if you don’t have either an electric hand whisk, or a KitchenAid, food processer, or anything else with a whisk attachment. A sugar thermometer is also advisable, as is a little competence.
400g strawberries (you could use frozen)
245g caster sugar, divided into 55g, 75g and 115g
4 eggs, divided into 4 yolks and 2 whites
150ml double cream
1 vanilla pod
There are basically four elements to this recipe, which are prepared separately and then combined together in order :
1. Make a fruit puree
2. Whip double cream into soft peaks
3. Whisk egg whites with sugar (as in meringue)
4. Whisk egg yolks with a sugar syrup to make something called ‘pâte à bombe’
(I apologise for that, there is no English version).
All four are then folded together. Needless to say you will therefore need 4 bowls, one of them on the extra- large side.
1.Chop the strawberries if they’re large (you don’t need to be neat, we’re going to make a puree) and add 55g of sugar to them in a sauce pan over a middle-of-the-road sort of heat. Split the vanilla pod in half lengthways and scrape the seeds out of both halves using the back of a knife and add it to the strawberries along with the empty pods. Cook to a mush – meaning the strawberries no longer have any shape or form, then tip them into a sieve sat over a bowl and use the back of a spoon to squidge it through the sieve leaving the seeds behind and giving you a nice puree. Discard the vanilla pods. Taste for sweetness, you’re looking for nothing sweeter than jam, there’s plenty of sugar going in elsewhere in this recipe. We need 280g in total of puree, if you have too much, pour it back into the pan, return to the heat and reduce it for a little longer. Add the rosewater, by tasting a little at a time, but remember this will be served frozen so don’t be shy with it.
Ideally the puree should be at room temperature, or better still cold before using… you’d do it the night before if you really had your wits about you.
2. Whip the double cream into soft peaks, don’t overdo it, there’s more folding going on later which will stiffen the cream even further – so less is more here. Put this back in the fridge for a mo.
3. Whisk the egg whites, just like you would for meringue, adding 75g of sugar in by the spoonful once you have stiff peaks. Do this is the largest of all your bowls.
4.Dissolve 115g sugar in a pan with 75ml of water over a gentle heat to begin with. Once liquid, increase the temperate and boil the syrup until it reaches 120⁰C or the ‘hard ball stage’, anywhere between 5 – 10 minutes. As soon as it does, start whisking the egg yolks and dribble the syrup onto them in a gentle steady stream and keep whisking until its thick, almost doubled in size and has stopped getting any lighter in colour – you could be at it for a good 5 minutes. If at any time during this process you get any hard lumps of syrup clagging together in the bowl, ignore them and keep whisking – they may make the whisk jump about a bit, but just plough on regardless and they’ll soon dissolve in the residual heat.
Now, fold the puree in to the meringue. And I mean fold; be firm, but fair. Then fold the ‘pâte à bombe’ into this, and finally the whipped cream. Pour into your mould of choice and get it in the freezer toute-suite.
*So the difference between a parfait and ice cream, a semi-freddo and gelato, comes down to how the texture of the finished article is achieved, which to cut a long story short comes down to how the fats, sugars and liquid interact, chemically and physically, to prevent ice crystals forming. With ice cream for example it’s by churning, with a semi-freddo its by introducing meringue into the equation. Anyway, let’s not get side tracked.
**Note on lining a terrine dish/loaf tin; grease the inside of the terrine dish/loaf tin with a cheapo flavourless oil, vegetable will do. Use your finger to get it right into the corners and up the sides. Tear of a far-too-large piece of cling film and drapse this over the tin, then pour in hot water straight from the kettle. Carefully pull the cling film taught to ease out the bubbles and creases, then pour the water out – the cling film won’t move, don’t panic. That’s it ready to fill.