Endless Ice Cream: Fig and Candied Walnut
I never ate a fig that wasn’t in Newton form until I was 28. Then, I picked up a pint for a dollar while grocery shopping one warm October evening. I gingerly bit into 0ne (it was oozing and I was scared), and proceeded to inhale the whole pint in about 30 seconds. I love figs. I dream about them when autumn rolls around and I can anticipate their arrival at the supermarket. But in the meantime, I’ll settle for this ice cream. Dried Black Mission figs are simmered and pureed with a bit of hard liquor (which keeps it from freezing solid). Walnuts are candied with butter and brown sugar, then chopped and added to a creamy custard-based ice cream. The fig puree in swirled in at the end. A quart of this in the freezer should help tide me over till fig season.
Fig and Candied Walnut Ice Cream
Makes about 1 quart
For the fig puree:
- 2 cups/12 oz/350 g dried Black Mission figs, stems removed
- 2 tablespoons/1 oz/25 g sugar
- 1 cup/8 oz/225 ml water
- 3 tablespoons/1.5 oz/40 ml of hard liquor (rum, vodka or bourbon will work)
For the custard base:
- 1 cup/8 oz/225 ml half-and-half or whole milk
- 3/4 cup/5.5 oz/150 g sugar
- Large pinch of salt
- 2 cups/16 oz/550 heavy cream
- 4 large egg yolks (set 1 egg white aside for the candied walnuts)
For the candied walnuts:
- 1 cup/3.5 oz/100 g shelled walnuts (my bag said ‘walnut meats’ HA)
- 1 egg white
- 1/4 cup sugar
- A pinch of salt
First make the fig puree:
- Put the dried figs, sugar and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, until soft. Remove from heat. Cover the pan and let sit for 20 minutes. Puree the figs and water in a blender or food processor with the liquor until no chunks remain. (You can then press the mixture through a sieve for a smoother texture). I like the crunch of the seeds so I did not. Cover and refrigerate.
To make the custard base:
- Place the heavy cream in a medium bowl placed over an ice bath. Place a mesh strainer over the bowl.
- In a medium sauce pan over medium-low heat, dissolve the sugar and salt in the milk or half-and-half. When fully dissolved, slowly drizzle the mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Return the milk-egg mix to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom of the pan, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon, about 8 minutes.
- Pour the heated custard mix through the mesh strainer into the heavy cream. Stir over the ice bath until cooled. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.
To make the candied walnuts:
- Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.
- Toss the walnuts in the egg white until coated. Add the salt and sugar and toss some more. Spread over a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake 25 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Cool and then roughly chop them. Cover and store in a cool, dry place.
- Churn the custard according to your ice cream maker’s instructions. Toss the candied walnuts in during the last couple minutes of churning. Scrape the ice cream into a shallow, freezer-friendly container. Gently fold in the fig puree. Cover with plastic wrap and an airtight lid. Freeze up to two months.