I’d been wanting to try using the combination of blackcurrant and liquorice in ice cream for a while now, but we’ve become so hooked on the coffee, cinnamon and rum ice cream I first made about a year ago that it’s hard to bring myself to experiment with different flavours. But I’m kicking myself that I didn’t try this out sooner. Most of what I attempt in the kitchen turns out fairly well – by no means is everything perfect, and from time to time I do have a disaster, but because I mostly make things that are pretty simple, skill-wise, and because I understand flavours – or at least, I understand how to give things the flavours that I find most appealing – so, my food is generally good. However, every now and then, something turns out to be really special, and that’s where this ice cream comes in. Lavender hued, with little magenta bursts from the blackcurrants, and headily fragranced with the mingling scents of vanilla, liquorice and fruit, it arrests the senses before you’ve even had a taste. And when you do? Well, it’s up there with the best. It’s getting added to that golden list of excessively delicious desserts. Obviously, those who don’t understand liquorice love probably won’t agree. Then again, you might be surprised. Try it. You might just fall in love.
This recipe makes a small tub, as I was playing it safe in case the flavours turned out all wrong. The ingredients below are what I actually used, but next time I’ll be scaling it up…
350ml double cream
300ml condensed milk
1 can of blackcurrants in light syrup – separate the syrup and the currants, put in separate bowls 100g fruit and 100ml syrup
50g good quality soft eating liquorice
1 vanilla pod
2 tbsp. vodka (this helps the ice cream mixture to freeze into soft-scoop deliciousness, I used vodka as I didn’t have any spirits on hand that would compliment the flavours, but crème de cassis is what I’ll use next time)
Separate half of the liquorice, and finely chop into currant sized pieces. Set aside. Roughly chop the remainder, and put into a pan set over a medium heat along with a couple of tablespoons of the syrup from the blackcurrants. You need patience for this step: the liquorice will melt into a treacly goo, but it takes time and lots of stirring. Keep adding the liquid, a tablespoon or two at a time, until all bits are dissolved. It should be thick and syrupy, but spoonable. Pour over the blackcurrants, roughly fork through, and set aside.
Next, pour the cream into a large mixing bowl. Add the condensed milk and alcohol, then scrape in the seeds from the vanilla pod. Using an electric whisk set to medium, combine until frothy and almost forming soft peaks.
Throw in the currants and finely chopped liquorice, and use a fork to fold through (I found the fork better than a spatula or a spoon, as it means that more of the blackcurrants stay whole.) When well mixed, pour into a Tupperware, pop on a lid, and freeze until ready – a few hours at least. Try not to eat all at once!