One of the hardest parts about moving this year, was having to leave my fig trees behind. My brown turkey fig tree had just begun fruiting last year and I was so excited (and I treated it like a child). A bunch of questions kept circling through my head, will the new people keep the tree and take care of it? Will the tree fruit plenty? Finally, last weekend, we took a quick trip to the nursery and I picked up a new black mission fig tree, a Meyer lemon tree and a Moro blood orange tree. Except for the fig tree, I haven't had much experience growing the others so I'm hoping they take off and I get some fruit. The lemon tree came with a several lemons so I'm not too worried but I hope the other two don't take too long to produce. I'm not planning on starting my own farmer's stand anytime soon but I'm a little impatient when it comes to my homegrown produce!
I love fresh figs, they are fat and juicy and sweet like nectar when ripe. Every fig season, I make it a point to eat some on a weekly basis whenever possible. We had a couple of hot days this past week and I found another excuse to make some ice cream. I decided to use cardamom for the base because the spice has a wonderful cooling fragrant taste. Also, cardamom is to Indian cooking what vanilla is to Western cuisine when it comes to desserts, though I should add that Indian cuisine also uses this great spice to season meats and vegetables in dishes.
If you never tried oven roasting slices of figs then you should give it a shot. For this recipe, I've lightly roasted the figs just enough to caramelize the sugars and drive out some of the moisture from the figs. The light dash of salt contrasts against the sweetness of the figs and cardamom ice cream which makes every bite wonderful. This ice cream is seriously amazing and if you're looking to make something fancy for a party or event, this is one ice cream that will impress.
Note: If you can't find Maldon sea salt flakes, use a good quality brand of sea salt crystals just make sure the crystals aren't huge as it will be overwhelming to taste. You can break the crystals using a mortar and pestle and then sprinkle them.
roasted salted fig ice cream
yields: 1 generous quart
12 black mission figs, ripe
1/4 teaspoon Maldon sea salt flakes or kosher sea salt crystals
2 cups whole milk + 4 tablespoons
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon green cardamom seeds, freshly ground
2/3 cup (5 1/2 ounces) raw sugar
2 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
1. Place a wire rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350F. Wash the figs, wipe the dry with a clean paper towel or kitchen cloth. Trim the tops and bottoms of each fig and then slice them lengthwise into 4 sections. Place the individual figs on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle the salt flakes over the figs (it's fine if you don't salt all the fig sections) and bake them for about 10 minutes in the oven or until the figs begin to caramelize and turn slightly golden brown at the edges. Remove from oven and allow to cool on baking sheet. Refrigerate the figs on the baking sheet until completely chilled. If the baking sheet doesn't fit in the refrigerator transfer them to a smaller plate but keep them individually separate.
2. In a medium-sized saucepan, heat the 2 cups of milk, heavy cream, cardamom, and sugar on a medium-high flame. Stir to ensure the sugar is completely dissolved. Bring the mixture to a boil. Whisk the 4 tablespoons of milk and cornstarch in a small bowl and then add it to the boiling mix. Whisk immediately and continue to stir for about 3-4 minutes until the milk begins to thicken. It will acquire a custard like consistency and should coat the back of a spoon. Remove from stove and allow the ice cream to cool for about 5 minutes.
3. Transfer the ice cream base to an airtight gallon ziploc bag and seal. Place the bag in an ice water bath and allow to chill completely for about 30 minutes. Transfer the chilled ice cream to your prepared frozen canister of your ice cream maker. Churn for about 30 minutes until the ice cream has formed. Alternatively, follow the instructions given by your ice cream maker's manufacturers.
4. Transfer half of the ice cream into a freezer safe container (preferably airtight). Layer with half of the chilled roasted salted fig sections and then layer with the rest of the ice cream. Layer the top of the ice cream with the rest of the fig sections. Cover the surface of the ice cream with parchment paper and press gently. Freeze the ice cream for about 4 hrs or overnight before serving.