While I love cooking hot, savoury things I’ve never been very good with desserts and puddings – there’s usually too much measuring and weighing involved. So I was pretty sceptical when I was asked to make ice cream. Surely ice cream is made by professionals, or by some sort of Willy Wonka magic, I thought. It turns out that, equipped with the right instructions, even a slapdash cook like me can cope with impress-your-friends homemade ice cream.
Ruby Violet’s Ice Cream Dreams is a beautiful hardback recipe collection that immediately piqued my interest with its tantalising pictures of rich and colourful ice cream. Yum! The book’s author, Julie Fisher, runs a small, independent ice cream parlour in North London that was the culmination of much at- home experimentation with ice cream-making. The recipes are taken from her highly popular selection at the shop and range is impressive – from childhood classics like vanilla and raspberry ripple, through to exotic cardamom and lemon, black sesame, or even horseradish.
Most of the recipes in Ice Cream Dreams begin with a basic sweetened or unsweetened mix, with flavours added subsequently. This means that once you’ve mastered the basic mix, essentially you can handle the entire recipe book. That’s a big comfort to anyone who – like me – might fear that ice cream making will be too complicated and ‘cheffy’. I made plenty of successful batches and now I’m planning to have a go at the boozy options like elderflower and Prosecco or mulled wine ice cream – what could be more indulgent than ice cream cocktails?
The great thing about this book is that it doesn’t just teach you how to make ice cream. It also includes desserts in which ice cream is a central feature, like bombes, arctic rolls and cakes; all perfect for posh dinner party desserts. There are about an equal number of sorbet recipes as ice cream ones, as well as some really clever presentation ideas like ice fruit bowls and chocolate teaspoons. Ice Cream Dreams also features explanations of how to make meringues with your leftover egg whites, and a selection of sauces and toppings like almond nut brittle and wafers. Also, while it is obviously easier to make if you have an ice cream maker, I made several batches of really tasty ice cream without one (you just need to be on hand to stir the freezing mix).
I’m a convert and am so pleased I gave ice cream making a chance. I’m already plotting my next dinner party dessert and have grand ideas for giving homemade tubs of mulled wine ice cream as Christmas presents. And if I can do it, anyone can!
Julie Fisher’s Ice Cream Dreams is published by Hardie Grant and available to buy online here.