There’s no shortage of great ice cream shops in Paris. Many of them, however, close for summer vacation in August. What’s an ice cream lover to do during the dog days? Make your own, of course!
This recipe pairs a sweet-tart apricot swirl with a rich bitter-almond custard, made tangy with the addition of crème fraîche. Bitter almonds are a close relative of apricots, so their flavors work marvelously well together. They can be found in well-stocked Asian markets, but if you have trouble sourcing them, the apricot pits themselves make a fine substitute.
Cooking the custard requires a bit of vigilance. Be sure to use a gentle, even heat, and remove the custard from the stove as soon as it’s done. You’ll know because it will thicken ever so slightly and your spoon will leave a slow wake behind it as you stir. Allowing the component to chill overnight yields the best results, but as long as the custard is thoroughly chilled, go ahead and churn away!
So even if you can’t make it to your favorite Paris ice cream shop this summer, at least you can still have fresh, delicious ice cream.
Makes about 1 quart/1 liter.
4–5 ripe apricots (about 9 ounces or 250 grams)
1½ tablespoons cassonade or turbinado sugar
1 tablespoon water
pinch of sea salt
1 teaspoon honey: a nice floral one, such as leatherwood or lavender honey, would be ideal
2 cups (475 ml) whole milk
½ cup (120 ml) heavy cream
¾ cup (150 grams) sugar
1 tablespoon bitter almonds (see note)
pinch of sea salt
5 egg yolks, beaten
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup (120 grams) crème fraîche or sour cream
1. Wash the apricots and cut them in half to remove the pits. Cut the apricot halves into small wedges. Place in a small saucepan with the cassonade, water and a pinch of sea salt. Cook over medium heat until the apricots break down and the juices reduce a bit, about 20 minutes. Allow to cool a bit, adjust the sweetness to your liking with honey, purée and chill.
2. In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, cream, sugar, bitter almonds and a pinch of sea salt. Heat to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat and pour a little of the hot milk into the egg yolks. Whisk to combine, then pour this back into the saucepan, now on low heat. Cook, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, until the custard coats the back of the spoon thickly enough to leave the trace of your finger. Strain the custard through a fine-mesh strainer, stir in the vanilla extract and chill completely.
3. Just before churning, stir the crème fraîche into the custard. Churn in an ice cream machine per the manufacturer’s instructions. When it is done, layer it into a chilled container with the apricot purée. Stir gently a couple of times to swirl. Cover and freeze until firm.
Note: Bitter almonds, correctly rumored to be mildly poisonous, lose their toxicity when heated. The amount used in this recipe is very small and shouldn’t pose any risk.
Camille Malmquist is an American pastry chef living and working in Paris. In her spare time, she cooks and bakes at home (believe it or not), as well as tackles the difficult task of trying out as many restaurants and bakeries as possible, then she blogs about her food and travel adventures at Croque-Camille.