Vanilla Cardamom Ice-Cream with Grilled Peaches
It seemed like such a good idea. The organic peaches had just arrived at the market and were irresistibly beautiful! Plump and fuzzy little things in colors of the summer sun, deep coral, and bright, flushed cheeks. Gently going through dozens, I found six or seven that were perfectly ripe.
I held a notion that peach galette and vanilla-cardamom ice-cream would be a heavenly combination. With the taste already in my mind, I was anxious to get started. I set the bags of groceries on the counter and began making the dough for the galette. I prepared the beautiful peaches, assembled that rustic little pie and popped it in the oven. In the meantime, I made the ice-cream. When everything was done, it all looked quite pretty so I snapped some photos. Then I plated it and took that much-anticipated bite. Everything about it was lovely…except the taste. The ice-cream was fragrant-like-a-flower delicious! But the galette – I don’t mean to be rude – but she was boring! It really didn’t matter how pretty she was…once you got past her looks, there was nothing there.
I knew it wasn’t the fault of the peaches. (Naturally, as I was slicing them I’d slipped a few into my mouth.) I’d sweetened them some and spiced them nicely. Maybe somebody out there has a better idea, but I concluded that peaches and galettes, no matter how good they are on their own, don’t make a good pair. I haven’t had much experience cooking peaches…I love them fresh and bright and dripping juice. My thoughts then went to, Well, how do I cook them in a way that all those lovable things about peaches are preserved? How about if I grill them?! Of course this could be another good idea gone bad, but I had to find out.
I headed back to the store, found a few ripe peaches I’d missed before, brought them home, and fired up the grill. Just a few short minutes later, I was sitting in the sun with my bare feet up, eating heavenly mouthfuls of cold ice-cream and warm peaches!
Vanilla Cardamom Ice-Cream
The very first recipe I posted for this blog was an apple crisp. Here’s the ice-cream I’d promised to go with it. It’s almost indescribably good. Its speckled with black bits of vanilla bean and its flavor is carried on a cloud that touches your nose before the spoon meets your mouth. And if you try it, you’ll know what I mean when I say you’ll never be in a rush to swallow it. Its one of those things you’ll want to savor until the very last, melted spoonful.
- 2 cups milk or light cream
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
- 8 whole green cardamom pods, lightly crushed (see NOTE)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 4 egg yolks
- 3/4 cup whipping cream
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom (see NOTE 2)
Put the milk, or light cream, vanilla bean and crushed cardamom pods into a heavy pan and bring slowly to a boil. Remove from the heat and cover and and allow to infuse for 20 minutes or so. Remove the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the liquid. Remove the crushed green cardamom pods.
In a bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugar together until thick and pale. Gently reheat the milk or cream and beat a little of it into the egg yolks. Pour the egg mixture into the cream and return the pan to a low heat. Stir until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon; it will take several minutes. (Don’t let it boil or you’ll get pieces of scrambled eggs.)
Remove the pan from the heat and continue to stir until it has almost cooled. Whip the whipping cream lightly and fold it into the custard. Add 1/8 teaspoon of ground cardamom. Freeze in an ice-cream maker following the manufacturer’s instructions.
NOTE: You want to only lightly crush the pods, allowing the “seam” to open enough to expose the little seeds inside, but not so much that you have many little pieces of cardamom that you’ll have to fish out later. If a few of the seeds make their way to the ice-cream, no damage done!
NOTE 2: Cardamom is a wonderful, rather unique, spice. With many spices, you can double the amount called for. 1/8 of a teaspoon will be just perfect here. Much more than that and you could get a slight “soapy” taste. But please, don’t for a second think this ice-cream tastes like soap! So not!
A post script to the post: It’s been running through my mind for several days now so I have to share: I think this ice-cream must taste like an exquisite orchid does to an insect with an appreciation for the finer things in life.
What could be easier? Wash the peaches, but don’t remove the skin. (My strong recommendation is that you get organic peaches. Did you know that peaches top the list and are #1 – not a good thing – in the amount of pesticides they contain?!)
Melt equal amounts of unsalted butter and brown sugar in a small pan. (Add a touch of cinnamon if you like.) Halve the peaches and remove the stones. Brush the peaches with the melted butter mixture and place them, flesh side down on a fairly hot grill (or in grill pan.) The idea is to brown them as quickly as possible. In maybe 2 or 3 minutes, turn them over. In a couple minutes they should be browned (but shy of mushiness), and their peach-ness will have concentrated! A very good thing!
The recipe for the ice-cream is slightly adapted from one appearing in Jill Norman’s Herbs & Spices: The Cook’s Reference