I have had a bottle of Cointreau sitting, unloved, in my cupboard for twenty years. Twenty years! I knew it would come in useful one day, and now it has found it’s raison d’etre, as a key element of this fantastic ice cream, courtesy of Tamasin Day-Lewis.
Anyone who has ever had an artisan ice cream knows that there is a gulf between the generic, chemical-laden ice cream van version and something made using a handful of natural ingredients. This recipe is a bit involved, but it’s not difficult and it is absolutely worth the faff.
RECIPE makes about 3/4 litre
300ml double cream
300ml full-fat milk
the grated zest of three large oranges
the juice of three large oranges
150g golden caster sugar & a further 2 tbsp
the yolks from ten large eggs (keep the whites, for meringue or Madeleines)
In a medium saucepan, combine the double cream and milk and grate the orange zest directly in to it. Over a medium heat, bring it to scalding point (where the edges of the liquid just start to move) then turn the heat off, put a lid on it and set it aside to steep for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, in another pan, combine the orange juice and Cointreau and simmer until the volume has reduced by about half. Whisk it into the milk and cream mixture, then strain all of the liquid through a sieve into a clean pan to remove the solids. Keep warm.
In a scrupulously clean, large saucepan, heat the 150g of golden caster sugar over a high heat and allow it to melt and caramelise until it is a very dark brown. DO NOT BURN IT, AND DO NOT STIR IT. You can swirl the sugar in the pan so it melts and colours evenly, but that’s all.
Remove the caramel from the heat and wrap your dominant hand in a damp dishcloth. Using that hand to hold a whisk, temper the caramel by slowly pouring a small amount of the warm orange cream into the caramel, whisking vigorously as you go.
BE CAREFUL, the caramel will spit and bubble violently. Keep adding the orange cream, slowly and whisking all the time, until it stops bubbling, then add the remaining orange cream to it and whisk thoroughly.
Place the pan back back on the heat and bring it to scalding point once more. Remove from the heat, and turn to your egg yolks.
Add the yolks to a mixing bowl with the 2 tbsp of golden caster sugar and whisk until fully combined then, with the whisk still running, temper the yolks by pouring a slow, steady stream of the hot caramel cream. You don’t need much, aim to double the initial volume of the yolks. Now pour the tempered yolks back into the cream and return to the stovetop over a medium heat.
Whisk gently and continuously over the heat until the mixture forms a perceptible custard which coats the back of a spoon. Don’t overcook it, otherwise it may curdle.
Strain the custard through a sieve into a large bowl, to remove any lumps of caramel, and leave to cool completely. You can leave the custard in the fridge overnight if you wish.
You will no doubt have stuck your finger in it to see what it tastes like, and you may be surprised at how intense the flavour is. That’s good, when frozen the flavour doesn’t come through as strongly so it needs to be dominant.
When the custard is completely cold, churn it in an ice cream machine or, if you don’t have one, put it into a tray that will fit into your freezer. If you use the tray method, take it out of the freezer after an hour and scrape the sides into the middle with a fork, and again a couple of hours later, to prevent ice crystals forming.
Store in the freezer in a suitable lidded container. The Cointreau will prevent it becoming rock solid in the freezer, but take it out 15-30 minutes before you serve it, so that it softens to an edible consistency.