Fig leaves can be a little hard to come by but they are worth the hunt as, added to the gelato they give a beautiful subtle almost green-ish flavour of figs. We did discover that they can curdle the milk so do be careful, do not add any extra or leave them in the milk for too long. This recipe will make lots of gelato so you can eat it for days. You will need an ice cream churner for this recipe and a blowtorch.
- 1 litre milk
- 200 ml pouring cream
- 1 vanilla pod, split in half and scraped
- 260 g caster sugar
- 5 egg yolks
- 4 large fig leaves, washed (see Note)
- river salt
- large black figs
- brown sugar
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Makes 1½ litre gelato and allow 1 large fig per person to serve
Resting time overnight
Freezing time 30 minutes
Place the milk, cream, vanilla pod and half the sugar and a pinch of salt into a saucepan. Bring to the boil and then set aside.
Whisk the remaining sugar and egg yolks in a stand mixture until pale, fluffy and doubled in size. Turn the mixer down to low and slowly pour in half of the milk mixture. Once this is all combined transfer this mix back into the saucepan with the remaining milk. Once you have all of these things back together again, you need you cook out your gelato base slowly over a low heat, stirring constantly with a large spoon. You want to cook it for about 15 minutes, it is ready once the custard coats the back of the spoon and you can draw your finger across it forming a line that stays there.
Remove the gelato base from the stove and place the leave in the pan, making sure they are fully immersed. Let them sit there for about an hour, having a little taste every known and again until you can start to taste the flavour of the leaves.
At this stage strain the mix through a fine strainer, place in a container with a lid and, once its reached room temperature, place it in the fridge and allow it to cool overnight. The next day transfer to an ice-cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Gather your figs, slice them in half down the middle and place a teaspoon full of brown sugar over the top of each on the cut side. Use a blowtorch to melt the sugar and carry on until or the sugar is melted and caramelised and just starts to burn.
Serve in individual bowls with the figs and a scoop or two of the gelato.
• If you don’t have a blowtorch you can caramelise the figs under a hot grill. This does tend to take a touch longer and isn’t as fun as wielding a fire blowing machine. They are actually not too expensive to buy and are a handy tool to have around.
• Fig leaves are only in season from February to late March. If none are available, simply omit.
Photography by Benito Martin. Styling by Trish Heagarty.