Summary: Since discovering the ease of making (and enjoying) fresh ricotta last year, I've been an ardent fan and rather obsessive maker of it. Most weeks, there's a fresh batch in my fridge, and one of my favorite ways to enjoy it is with lightly-spiced poached figs and their syrup. I also really enjoy using the whey which is great and useful in so many ways. This ice cream combines the use of whey with my favorite fig-ricotta snack.
**You'll need an ice cream maker for the smoothest results.
**The egg-custard base needs to chill for at least 4 hours before going into the ice cream maker, so plan accordingly.
Yield: about 1 quart
- ¾ cups whey (leftover from making fresh ricotta), or 2% milk
- ¾ cups heavy cream
- 3 large egg yolks
- rounded ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons unrefined, granulated sugar, divided
- ⅛ teaspoons almond extract
- ⅛ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 12 smallish fresh figs
- 1 dash cinnamon
- 3 grinds fresh black pepper
- 5 allspice berries, gently cracked
- 1½ tablespoon honey
- ½ cups water
Into a 2-quart saucepan, pour the whey and cream. Heat over medium-high heat until scalded (the milk starts to bubble up around the sides); that's a temperature of roughly 170° Fahrenheit. Immediately remove from heat, add the extracts, and set aside.
In a mixing bowl, put the egg yolks and rounded ¼ cup of sugar. Using a hand mixer (or whisk if you’re feeling intrepid), beat the eggs and sugar together until light and fluffy, a couple minutes. Very slowly, pour in a tablespoon or two of your scalded whey-cream mixture, whisking earnestly the whole time. You need to temper the eggs so go slowly so they don’t scramble. Repeat a few more times, and then pour in the rest of the whey-cream. Cover with plastic wrap pressed to the surface, and let cool to room temp. Then put in the fridge for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
In a skillet just large enough to hold the figs in a single layer, place the figs and sprinkle with a dash of cinnamon, the black pepper, cracked allspice berries, sugar and honey. Gently pour the water over, and turn the heat on to medium-high. When the liquid comes to a boil, reduce heat to a good simmer, and poach the figs for 6-8 minutes, until they’re soft but not cracking. Remove them with a slotted spoon, and let the syrup reduce until you have about ¼ cup. Let cool for 10 or so minutes and then pour back over the figs. Cover and place them in the fridge.
Set your ice cream maker up and pour in the custard mix. Remove the figs and syrup from the fridge and coarsely chop 8 of the figs. Set them aside. Five minutes before the ice cream is done, pour in all but 2 tablespoons of the fig syrup, and then, with 1-2 minutes left, pour in the chopped figs.
Taste the ice cream when the timer is up and if you want it a bit sweeter, add the rest of the syrup. If not, save it for drizzling over the ice cream when you serve it. Save the remaining figs for garnish. Put the ice cream in a freezer-safe container and freeze!