During the last couple of days, Hubby and I were lucky enough to have some time off to fully enjoy the fabulous Spring-sneak-peek mother nature blessed us with. Of course that first glimpse of warmer days to come also presented an irresistible invitation for me to update the contents of our freezer with a refreshing treat or two~!
Once more, Tyria’s Chef’s Guild is to be held responsible for another one of my Gelato creations, but in this particular case, I’ve actually been putting it off for quite a number of years, and here’s why~ This one’s not a regular all-year-round dish but a treat being distributed during one of the Seasonal Festivals in Tyria – to be more precise: The Mintberry Swirl Ice Cream is a speciality of the Wintersday Festival held in, you’ve probably guessed it, December.
Now, for a long time, when the words “Mint” and “Christmas/Wintersday” came my way, holding hands, I couldn’t help but see Candy Canes, taste the signature toothp… ahem… Spearmint aroma of a Candy Cane and smell the artificial strawberry or raspberry aroma contained in the sugary confinement of a Candy Cane. Of course, them actually being used in the Guild”s original recipe didn’t help… It really took me a while to shake that mental collection of aromas I didn’t even care much for before I overdosed on Candy Canes as a kid – a long while and several very berry iced teas during very hot summer evenings that were served with a fresh, bushy sprig of mint. One evening, while I was refilling our glasses, Hubby gave me a raised eyebrow and a curveball by pointing out the fact that I seemed to love these Berry & Mint refreshments as much as I hated the idea of Mintberry Ice Cream. Well hell. How’s that for getting misdirected and stuck thought processes whacked loose and put into perspective! All this time it had just been the context rather than the combination itself turning me away from the whole mint-berry idea – and actually blocking my view on the delicious treat hiding behind the “Wintersday” theme. Talk about loosing sight of the forest for the trees… Take away Christmas and the repulsive Candy Cane shortcut my mind automatically kept taking without being asked to… And this is what you get!
The Mintberry Swirl Gelato
500ml Double Cream
400g Condensed Milk
2 Tsp Vanilla Extract
300g Mixed Frozen Berries – frozen berry mixtures have a tendency to be a bit on the tart side of things but, in this case at least, that’s a good thing, it’ll even out the sweet force of the condensed milk. If you’re a real sweet tooth though, honey is your friend~!
1 Bunch of fresh Garden Mint, leaves picked and finely chopped – don’t use Spearmint… unless you really like it~
2 Tbsp Lemon Curd or 1 Thsp Lemon Curd and 1 Tbsp of your favorite Berry Jam – I’ve been using my Blackcurrant-Pastis Jam for this
1 Pinch of Salt
Just a couple of words in advance: First of all, going with my personal Ice Cream Recipe Rule of Thumb, whipping this one up doesn’t require an ice cream maker~! Just make sure you’ve got enough free space/flat surface in your freezer for a loaf tin.
Secondly, make sure all of your ingredients have the same temperature – thoroughly chilled in this case. This way the ice cream will set and freeze more quickly, reducing the chances of ice crystals splitting off from the crowd and ruining your creamy ice cream experience later on. Don’t forget the berries either, allow them to thaw halfway in the fridge and take that “halfway thawed” stage as a marker to get the show on the road.
1) Place the berries in the jug of your blender or a stick-blender-friendly container and add the curd and/or jam and the salt.
2) Whizz the lot into a smooth’ish purée and take a moment to think about berry seeds and the possibility of getting rid of them by passing the purée through a sieve.
3) Once you’re satisfied with the consistency of your purée, fold in the mint and place the container in the fridge for the time being.
4) Just for the record: whizzing up the mint along with the berries from the start will intensify the mint-aspect of “Mintberry” just in case that’s what you’re gunning for.
5) Pour the cream, vanilla extract and condensed milk into a large mixing bowl.
6) Set the speed of your handheld whisk-o-matic to high and whip the mixture until a careful lift of the whisks leave soft peaks of the now-foamy cream mixture standing at attention. This will take a bit longer than usual, so mentally prepare yourself to be holding the whisks for about 4-6 mins.
7) Once you’re satisfied with the silky foam, set the bowl and your tools aside for a moment and line a loaf tin with a double-layer of clingfilm.
8) Fill the tin up to about 1/3 of it’s height with the cream mixture.
9) Carefully drizzle or spoon a third of the minty berry purée onto the glossy foam in a thin layer. Go slowly and apply the purée layer from a low height to keep it from sinking in and down to the bottom prematurely.
10) Repeat the process until your loaf-gone-gelato-tin is full and the bowls are empty.
11) Now pick up a palette knife, dessert spoon, chopstick or fork and “swirl” the two components into each other, starting in one corner of a short side, moving along the length of the tin all the way to the opposite corner in a slow and dragging whisking motion. And there you go, very berry and minty swirls curling through a fluffy vanilla cloud… no Candy Canes in sight!
12) If you want to doll up your gelato for a bit of eye candy on the table, apply the last layer of purée in thin lines onto the surface of the cream layer, grab a wooden skewer, lightly dip it into the foam on one side and run it across the surface to the other side, crossing the mintberry-lines. A couple of fresh berries and mint leaves on top come ice-cream’o’clock and you’re golden~!
13) Cover the tin with the clingfilm hanging over the sides and pop it into the freezer for at least 7-8 hours.
14) Take the tin out of the freezer and allow the ice cream to acclimatize for about 10 mins before plating up (or simply going to town with a spoon~!)