Port is not for the very young, the vain and the active. It is the comfort of age and the companion of the scholar and the philosopher. ~ Evelyn Waugh
Ok, I confess: I used to watch Iron Chef America.
All that over the top commentary, intense knife skills, and big complicated chefy creations: a foodie's ultimate guilty pleasure.
And then there was always some muppet who thought fish ice cream would be a good idea.
Fish ice cream is never a good idea.
However, there are some ice creams that sound odd but are actually incredible. Case in point: Port & Prunes Gelato.
Now, when I say port and prunes, you're probably thinking bingo and zimmer frames. Not exactly the sexiest sounding combo but trust me when I say this gelato outta this world.
It would make Morimoto proud.
Creamy and dreamy, with bursts of port soaked prunes with the frangrance of ruby ripe grapes, in a malty almost caramelly gelato base, this boozy ice cream is like a rocking chair...it's gonna rock your world.
The original recipe is a Ray McVinnie creation: Port Soaked Prunes Semifreddo. It also happens to be C's Aunty's signature dessert. Whenever there was a family gathering we would all hang out for Jocelyn's amazing semifreddo.
Semifreddo is way less of a hassle to make than ice cream, requiring only a beater to whip up the eggs and cream rather than an ice cream maker. The only thing with a semifreddo though, is that is uses raw eggs so a) only keeps overnight and b) is a no-go for fully-preggo sisters in laws.
So since I was on an ice cream creating craze over summer, I tried to recreate that luscious semifreddo and turn it into an ice cream. A gelato to be precise. And while I'm not really making the gelato in yee olde italian fashion, David Lebovitz's gelato recipe gave me ideas as to how to get the ice cream to be creamier, richer, silkier - more gelato-ey.
Not gonna lie, I ate almost a whole litre of this on my lonesome over summer it's that good. Heck I even ate some for breakfast. Prunes are good for you right...
Port & Prunes Gelato
Adapted from recipes by Ray McVinnie and David Lebovitz
200g prunes, chopped roughly
1/2 cup port
5 egg yolks
2 cups cup cream
1 cup whole milk
big pinch salt
1. First a bit of prep: soak the chopped prunes in the port for at least 1 hour
2. In a bowl, whisk the yolks till pale and fluffy. In a separate large bowl (stainless steel or pyrex) pour 1 cup of cream and put in to the fridge too keep chilled.
3. In a medium saucepan: heat milk, sugar, 1 cup of the cream and salt over low-medium heat till warm like a nice warm bath, stirring. Ladle the warmed milk into the beaten egg yolks a ladleful at a time, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.
4. Rinse out the saucepan and put the kettle on and boil a jug of water. Fill the saucepan with the boiling water and put back on the stove over a low-medium heat. Place the bowl of eggy creamy custard over the saucepan (making sure the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water) and heat gently over a low-medium heat, stirring constantly (make sure you scrap the bottom!) until the custard has thickened enough to coat the back of a spatula. You can test if it's done by running your finger across the back of the spatula and it leaves a clear line.
5. Pour the custard into the chilled bowl of cream you set aside earlier and stir over a basin of ice cold water too cool it down as quickly as possible.
6. When the custard is completely cool, pour into your ice cream maker and follow it's manufacturer's instructions. (** If you don't have an ice cream maker, David Lebovitz has a great article about how to make ice cream without an ice cream machine which involves just good old fashion stirring every 30 minutes.).
7. When the gelato is just about ready, at the very last minute, tip the port soaked prunes into the still churning almost solid. The gelato should be ready to eat right away (it's the texture of soft serve at this stage) but if you want it firmer, transfer into a container and freeze for 3-4 hours. Take out of the fridge around 10-15 minutes before serving.