Redcurrants have their uses but – full disclosure – blackcurrants are streets ahead on flavour. If you like sorbet cassis, you’re going to love this recipe. Store-bought sorbet (even from Picard) is fine, but home-made blackcurrant ice cream is the business. Here’s how to make your own (and you don’t even need an ice cream maker):
First you cook the fruit briefly, sieve it and let it cool. Next you make a sugar syrup, boil it to the thread stage (not nearly as scary as it sounds, see the recipe), pour it onto egg yolks and beat like crazy. Separately (OK, so you do use a few bowls for this recipe but it’s worth it, I promise) you whip up some cream. Finally you combine all three (purée, yolks + sugar and whipped cream) and chuck it in the freezer. Sorted.
Substitute raspberries or blackberries for blackcurrants if you prefer, but IMHO nothing comes close to the completely, wickedly, wonderfully OTT taste of blackcurrants.
- Wash the fruit and put it in a pan with 125g sugar and 3 tablespoons of water
- Bring to a boil and simmer for about 5 minutes, just enough so the juice runs – don’t overdo this step; you don’t want jam, but fresh-flavoured ice cream
- Push the fruit through a sieve, pressing hard to eliminate pips, and let the purée cool
- Put 125g sugar in a small pan with 125ml water and heat gently till the sugar is dissolved and the syrup is clear, not cloudy
- Raise the heat, bring the syrup to a rolling boil and continue boiling for about 5 minutes to the ‘thread stage’: dip a fork into the syrup and allow it to cool briefly (so you don’t burn yourself), then pinch a drop or two between finger and thumb repeatedly – as you separate finger and thumb, the syrup should form a slender thread
- Remove syrup from the heat and allow the bubbles to subside
- Using a hand-held electric mixer, start beating the egg yolks and pour on the hot syrup in a steady stream
- Continue beating till the mixture is pale, thick and doubled in bulk (about 10 minutes)
- In a separate bowl beat the cream till stiff
- Fold together the purée, egg mixture and cream, lifting and folding with a wire whisk to make sure they are well mixed
To freeze and serve:
Either pour the ice cream into a suitable receptacle (recycled ice cream container, metal bowl) and freeze. Remove ice cream from freezer about 10 minutes before serving, scoop out ovals or rounds and serve with or without fresh fruit, and maybe with a sprig of mint:
Or pour the mixture into straight-sided plastic cups (I use 100ml-sized ones) and freeze. To serve, remove from freezer, let them soften for a few minutes, run a slender knife or palette knife round the inside and ease them out onto plates.