We do love our ice-cream in this house, and Ottolenghi's popcorn ice-cream was just the kind of challenge I needed over the weekend...
Any reader of this rather stop start blog will tell you that I am an avid Ottolenghi fan, so when I got my mitts on Nopi (which I know has been around for a while... but it's been on that wish list for a loooooong time!) I was just too excited. The recipes are definitely designed for the confident cook, and are restaurant like in their style. What I do like about them is that there is usually an introduction, in which Ottolenghi and Scully explain that if you want to do it this way or that, then it will need this or that. Do you get my drift? Essentially it's prescriptive but not rigidly so. I love to go to read cook books for the 15 minutes before I sleep, and weirdly I don't dream about food very much, and for the last few weeks it's been Nopi on the bedside table. To be honest it's a beautiful book - no sleeve (sleeves drive me nuts) and a lovely gold lining to the pages. It's heavy, so definitely a sit-up-in-bed reading book, but worth it for the imagery and the inspiration. When my eyes lit on popcorn ice cream, I knew it wouldn't be long before this was tried in our kitchen. We had a little disaster on the way (or rather, a few) but the end result was delicious if not a little unusual!
The first disaster was finding we were two eggs short of what we needed. I ploughed on regardless, and made a two egg yolk ice-cream. As a result I think it's a little less rich and creamy than it should be, so would recommend sticking to what the experts dictate! The second disaster was mindlessly bantering away to M & F and fiddling with the knob on the KitchenAid without realising I was loosening it to the point where it fell off, into the ice cream churner - uh oh. Hand covered in popcorn ice cream mixture but doohickey rescued. The next issue was making caramel because we could only find powdered glucose, not liquid. So I had a little google search and then just decided to guess. Mix 1:1 glucose powder and water, and it seemed to work!
Apart from that it was smooth and I had quite a few takers that afternoon...
60g unsalted butter from Brown's
150g uncooked popcorn
500ml double cream
700ml full fat Bio milk
2 vanilla pods, halved and deseeded
4 egg yolks (I used two, but recommend the 4!)
160g caster sugar
1 1/2 tbsp liquid glucose
pinch of coarse sea salt
Place the butter in a saucepan, and heat for 5 minutes or so or until frothing. Add the popcorn and firmly place the lid on top. Shake the pan a few times to make sure that nothing burns and that all the corn pops! Once cooked, transfer 140g into a bowl and reserve 40g for caramelising.
Pour the cream, milk and vanilla into the same saucepan, and bring up to steaming point - just before it boils. Then pour over the 140g cooked popcorn. Allow to cool down before covering with cling film and putting in the fridge overnight. At this stage you could make the caramelised popcorn, or wait until tomorrow.
The next day, after full infusion has taken place, put the cream and popcorn mixture into a muslin and allow to drain. Discard the popcorn mixture - your chickens will love you for it! Place the eggs and 100g of the caster sugar in a bowl and whisk until light and fluffy and then slowly add the cream mixture in, whisking all the while. Place in a saucepan with a pinch of salt and cook for 5 - 7 minutes over a low - medium heat, stirring ALL the time. You don't want scrambled eggs here, you want custard! Once it's thickened (my test is to run a spatula over the top and if it leaves a little trail then it's ready). Let it cool for half an hour (or if you have hungry gannets like I did, put into a glass bowl and place the bowl in iced water. Once cool, put into your ice-cream churner until it's churned up to soft serve consistency. Place into a plastic container and keep in the freezer until you need it.
Place the remaining 60g of caster sugar in a saucepan together with your liquid glucose and slowly bring the heat up. Swirl the sugar mix from time to time but don't stir it. Let it caramelise, and turn brown. It isn't always easy to see this - especially if you have a black bottomed saucepan like I do - but trust your nose! Add the 40g of popcorn you held back and stir it into the caramel. Cook for a further one minute and make sure that all the popcorn has a caramel on it, before transferring to a baking dish that is lined with greaseproof paper. Allow to cool then snap into pieces and sprinkle on top of your ice cream when serving!