Vanilla Plum Ice Cream

August 1, 2019 Updated: August 1, 2019

Vanilla Plum Ice Cream

Plums have a dependable quality I like. Even unripe, unexciting ones—in fact, even those rock-hard purple tennis balls you get year-round at the supermarket. They undergo a kind of alchemy once they’re cooked and the tannic depths of flavor are drawn from their skins, becoming lusty and slurp-able. This makes them a very good choice for ice cream.

Next time you get a glut of wasp-eaten windfalls—or a netted plastic tub of plums from the supermarket—try making this inexpensive, sweet, and lovely ice cream.

  • 1 pound plums (varieties like Victoria, Jubilee, Marjorie’s Seedling, and Quetsche d’Alsace are all good)
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 vanilla pod, split lengthwise
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar

To prepare the ice cream: Cook the plums lightly. If using a microwave, halve and pit the plums and place them in a heatproof bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and cook for 3 to 4 minutes on high. Otherwise, simmer them gently in a non-reactive pan just until they are tender, pulpy, and piping hot (do not boil). Set aside to cool; once cold, cover and chill in the fridge.

Heat the milk, cream, and split vanilla pod gently, stirring every so often with a whisk or silicone spatula. When the liquid reaches a simmer, whisk the egg yolks and the sugar together in a separate bowl for a few seconds to combine.

Pour the hot liquid over the yolks in a thin stream, whisking continuously. Return all the mix to the pan and cook over low heat until it reaches 180 degrees F. Stir constantly to avoid curdling the eggs and keep a close eye on it so as not to let it boil. As soon as your digital thermometer says 180 degrees F, place the pan in a sink of ice water to cool. Speed up the cooling process by stirring the mixture every so often. Once the custard is at room temperature, transfer it into a clean container, cover with plastic wrap, and chill in the fridge.

To make the ice cream: The following day, pick out the vanilla pod and squeeze out all the little black seeds, adding them back to the custard. Use a spatula to scrape the chilled plums into the custard, making sure there are no bits of pit still attached. Liquidize for 2 to 3 minutes, or until very smooth. Use a small ladle to push the pink custard through a fine-mesh sieve or chinois into a clean container. Discard any remaining seeds and fruit skin.

Pour the plum custard into an ice cream machine and churn according to the machine’s instructions until frozen and the texture of whipped cream, 20 to 25 minutes.

Transfer the ice cream to a suitable lidded container. Top with a piece of wax paper to limit exposure to air, cover, and freeze until ready to serve. Best eaten within a couple of weeks.

Note: If you get a big haul of plums, it’s worth remembering that they freeze beautifully when halved, pitted, and bagged up in zip-top bags. They can be cooked like this frozen, and will see you through winter with delicious fruity ice cream.

Recipe courtesy of “La Grotta Ice Creams and Sorbets: A Cookbook,” copyright 2019 by Kitty Travers. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

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