A friend asked me to provide dessert for a get-together for 8. I love ice-cream but turning up with a bucket of pre-bought just wasn't showing the right amount of effort so I dug out my Provence Cookery School recipe book for inspiration.
Glace vanille au parfum de basilic (vanilla ice-cream flavoured with basil)
Yes basil. It just adds a peppery aftertaste which is really delicious and isn't at all over-powering. You do really need an ice-cream maker but if you haven't got on you need to regularly take the ice-cream out of the freezer to whisk it and break down the ice crystals.
1 vanilla pod plus a teaspoon of vanilla essence (the recipe asked for 3 vanilla pods but that is far too expensive)
8 medium egg yolks
200g caster sugar
300 ml chilled creme fraiche
2 tbsp finely snipped fresh basil
Put milk and vanilla in a saucepan and bring to boil over a low heat. Simmer gently for a few minutes then remove from the heat and allow to infuse for 30 mins.
Whisk egg yolks and sugar for around 5 mins. Remove vanilla pods from milk and pour a little at a time over the egg yolk and sugar mixture whisking vigorously.
Pour mix back into saucepan and return to a low heat. Bring to a fast simmer stirring all the time with a wooden spoon. The custard will thicken gradually until it can coat the back of a spoon. Take care not to allow the custard to boil or it will curdle. When thickened remove from the heat.
Strain through a sieve into a bowl and leave until it's completely cold. Whisk creme fraiche until stiff then fold in to the mixture along with the basil. Mix in an ice-cream maker than transfer to a suitable container and freeze until you need it.
Palets de chocolat aux noisettes (hazelnut and chocolate biscuits)
Not really a biscuit just melted chocolate and hazelnut which goes brilliantly with the ice-cream.
250 g chopped hazelnuts
500g best dark chocolate
3 tsp groundnut oil
Melt chocolate in a bowl over a boiling pan of hot water. Remove from the heat and whisk in the oil for 5 minutes. Add the toasted hazelnuts then spread a dessertspoon of the mix onto greaseproof paper - mix makes about 25-30 'palets'. Allow to harden and then serve with the ice-cream.
It certainly went down really well.