In my last blog entry I was extolling the virtues of prunes in armagnac and the sheer joy of using them in ice cream. Assuming that you have some armagnac-soaked prunes, then the easiest way to create an ice cream is to stir some chopped prunes with their armagnac juices into softened, shop-bought vanilla ice cream. But, although the following recipe is more complicated, it’s much nicer in my opinion. The taste is truly intense and the combination of the residual alcohol and mascarpone makes for a velvety smooth feel. Definitely a grown-up sort of ice cream and definitely one of my favourites.
You don’t have to soak the prunes for 4 weeks to make this ice-cream – overnight will do at a pinch – but if you have got the patience then I promise it’s well worth the wait.
200 g armagnac-soaked prunes, drained
125 ml of the armagnac-laden prune-soaking liquid
125 g caster sugar
125 g fromage frais (preferably not the very low-fat version)
200 g mascarpone
1 egg yolk
50 g icing sugar, sieved
1 tbsp lemon juice
Add the prune-soaking liquid and the caster sugar to a saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring a good deal. Make sure that the sugar has fully dissolved, then simmer the syrup for a few minutes until it becomes quite thick. (Stop before it seizes up completely, though.)
Allow the syrup to cool a little, then put it into a food processor with the prunes and fromage frais. Whiz them together until well mixed but stop before the prunes are completely obliterated – a few small chunks will be no bad thing. Place the mixture in the fridge and wait until it’s thoroughly cold.
Beat together the mascarpone, egg yolk, icing sugar and lemon juice until the mixture is smooth and quite loose. Stir in the cooled fromage frais and prune mixture. Pour into an ice-cream maker and allow the mixture to churn and freeze. (If you don’t have an ice-cream maker, placing the mixture in the freezer and taking it out a few times as it freezes to beat it with a fork should be fine.)
This ice is quite rich and powerful so serve small scoops with suitable biscuits or alongside plain cakes or light chocolate desserts. In fact, it's great just in an ice-cream cone. Less obviously, perhaps, I think it also works well with apple desserts or with other baked fruits.