Sorrento Lemon Ice Cream

We have this rather impressive attachment to our Kitchenaid stand mixer; an ice cream churning thing that goes in the freezer the night before and then supposedly whisks your ice cream like a pro. We shall see! At the restaurant we have a proper professional ice cream machine that allows you not only to make ice cream in 120 seconds. I’m not expecting anything similar from this implement. Strangely enough it was a free gift that came with the machine. Such generosity is rare.

I have just made the ice cream base and it’s on the kitchen table cooling down. Took about an hour, including letting the cream mix infuse for half an hour. Making ice cream is actually a total breeze, if you have an ice cream maker of any kind. If you are whisking it by hand in a tub in the freezer, it’s a total pain. I saw an interesting way of making ice cream on YouTube, where you pour the base into a freezer bag, seal it tight, put it into a larger freezer bag filled with ice and just shake the whole thing about. My no machine ice cream system is freezing it in ice cube trays and then whizzing it to a smoothie in a blender and returning it to the freezer to set. But we have a machine!

Sorrento Lemon Ice Cream

I’m lying and there’s not a Sorrento lemon in sight, so this is the first of my “Faking it with Chris & Eddie” recipes, where I will show you how to achieve something looking, feeling and tasting totally authentic. Without having to travel to the bay of Naples to pick your own lemons. The Sorrento lemon juice is sweet and quite different from the mostly South African lemons we get here, but the real difference is in the skin. Scratch the skin of a lemon from Surriento and there is a beautiful floral scent to it reminiscent of….

Yup. Daun Limau Purut; Kaffir lime leaves. So we are faking our Sorrento lemons with a little addition of kaffir lime leaves. The trick is not to overdo it, so your guests find the flavour. It has to be there in the background, silently doing its work. And off to work it is we go at last:

This should make about 1.5 litres

  • zest of 6 lemons
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves (daun limau purut)
  • 425ml lemon juice (about 6-8 lemons)
  • 400ml full fat milk
  • 400ml full cream
  • 400g caster sugar
  • 8 egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp clear honey

Start by pouring the milk and cream into a saucepan and adding 100g of the caster sugar to it. Wash and crush your lime leaves and add them to the mix. Now wash the lemons well and grate their skin into the milk mix. I use a microplane grater for this, as it gives much finer zests and doesn’t take so much pith off. Heat the milk at high heat to just boiling point.

I find that although it is counter-intuitive, boiling milk at high heat reduces the risk of burning. And burning or browning is really the one thing you want to avoid when making ice cream or really any type of custard base (which is what an ice cream base really is). Once you detect even the slightest whiff of burned proteins, that horrid smell when dairy burns, chuck the milk out and save yourself the bother of making an inedible ice cream.

While the milk mix is heating, whisk the egg yolks with the caster sugar to a fluffy, creamy texture. Squeeze the lemons to get your 425ml juice. I use this very handy tool that you just stick into the lemon and turn about. I find it the most effective way of getting juice out of lemons.

As soon as the milk & cream start to bubble, turn off the heat and add the honey. You can actually do this at any stage, but hot milk will make it easier to get the honey off the spoon. Leave the mix to cool a little and then pour it over the fluffed eggs, beating the mixture with a whisk all the time. Wash out your saucepan and return the batter to the pan. Heat gently to about 75ºC. It’s good to have a thermometer to hand to make sure the temperature is correct. You can heat the mix higher without giving yourself problems, but stay well under 100ºC, or you will end up with lemon scramble.

Keep stirring your ice cream base for a minute or two after taking if off the heat to prevent lumps from forming, then pour it into a container, cover the top of the batter itself directly with a piece of cling film to prevent any skin from forming. Leave to cool to room temperature, then chill. One the batter is completely chilled, put it into the freezer for about two hours. The high sugar content will prevent it from freezing to a solid and the added chill factor will make churning your ice cream much easier.

Following the instructions of the manufacturer of your ice cream maker, churn your ice cream. Alternatively, whisk the ice cream after the first two hours of freezing, then every hour for the next 4 hours. After that you can leave it alone to set fully.

It may sound like a lot of effort for a bit of ice cream (1.9 litres to be exact), but it is sooooo delicious you won’t regret the time spent making it. There’s another advantage; a 500ml tub of Haagen Dazs will set you back about RM65 while the near two litres we made cost only RM30, so 7.50 for a 500ml tub! Imagine how much you could save by eating more ice cream!!

Here’s my trusty lemon squeezer. I know it looks like something that might come in handy in the bedroom, but believe me, it’s much better for squeezing those lemons.
NOTE: You may need to vary the amount of sugar you add to the lemon juice, as some lemons are a lot sourer than others. So make this recipe as given, see whether you want your ice cream more or less sour and adjust for the next batch. Then try to remember the acidity of the lemon/sugar mix, so you can get the same acidity every time.

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