Peach and Shortbread Ice Cream
As Summer draws near it’s end, let’s dive in an enjoy the last of it’s juicy bounty with this creamy, caramelly, decadent peach and shortbread ice cream swirled with a peach puree reminiscent of granita and studded with whole peach chunks.
A few weeks ago, we decided to go buy some ice cream for family night. And to my great glee and luck, as if a chorus of angels was singing behind me, I noticed that my beloved Häagen Dazs was on sale. And they had a new flavor I’d never noticed before: Vanilla Tangerine and Shortbread. And oh man, it did not disappoint. Beautifully smooth & creamy base with swirls of tangy, fruity tangerine curd, and ohhhhh the shortbread. And as I always do, my brain started ticking about how I could make this at home. But with local, wholesome, and seasonal ingredients. That’s where peaches come in.
I feel like peaches are the little gift we get at the end of Summer. William Bryant said that Autumn is “the year’s last, loveliest smile.” And I agree, wholeheartedly. But to me, peaches are Summer’s last, loveliest smile. That last sigh before the crispness creeps into the air and the colors change from vibrant greens to warmer oranges and reds. And the seasonal flavors morph from tangy and juicy and bright to earthy and rich and sweet. Peaches kind of bridge that gap. I imagine myself sitting on a porch swing, biting into the fruit with juices running down my arm, one hand reaching for swimming pools and barbecues, and the other longing for cardigans and baked goods.
You with me?
That’s what this ice cream is to me. I wanted a rich, caramel-vanilla base with the bright spots of the fruit and soft crunch of the cookie. And boy does it deliver.
I imagine a lot of your are not unfamiliar with homemade ice cream, but maybe it’s been a while since you dusted off that machine you got as a wedding gift however many months or year ago? Well, this is your chance to give it it’s dream voyage.
There’s one major problem with homemade ice cream, especially ones that avoid highly processed stabilizers. Texture. Ice cream made at home can have a really icy texture, and this recipe avoids that problem. First by starting with a custard base made with egg yolks, milk, cream, and sugar. And don’t freak out about the eggs. If you are careful about tempering (it’s not as complicated as it sounds, promise) and strain before chilling, you won’t have any scrambled egg bits. Because … ew. Nobody wants scrambled egg ice cream. So please don’t omit them, the egg yolks are really important. The fat content in the yolks, along with the nice amount of heavy cream (if you can find local, grassfed heavy cream, this is the time to splurge) aid in preventing ice crystallization, which results in that smooth, decadent ice cream that we all expect from a high-end creamery. I also replaced some of the usual amount of sugar with honey, which also helps prevent ice crystallization, and because honey is about 1.25 times sweeter than sugar, we don’t need to use quite as much. And in place of regular granulated sugar, I used my favorite coconut palm sugar. It has such a rich flavor that is reminiscent of caramel, and it’s easier for your body to digest because it’s low on the glycemic index.
For the fruit puree swirl, I debated about the texture I wanted, and in the end I went with a granita-like texture, just enough … well, in Japanese I would say shari-shari. The best equivalent I can think of in English is icy. But that just sounds weird after my long lecture about avoiding iciness. But we’re talking about the fruit swirl now, so I guess I’ll take it. Anyway, my point is that I wanted a contrast not only in flavor but also in mouthfeel. I wanted that burst of peach to jump out at your tastebuds amongst the darker flavors. Do you see the vision? Tell me you see the vision.
And last but so very much not least, shortbread.
I just talked about my love of shortbread. These cookies are pretty easy to throw together, so just make a batch and save half for the ice cream and definitely eat the other half while you wait for the ice cream to chill to the right consistency. And you have yourself some of the best ice cream to carry you on to the next season.
- 3 peaches
- 3 tablespoons honey, preferably local and raw
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 vanilla bean*
- 2 cups heavy cream, preferably local and grassfed
- 1 cup whole milk, preferably local and grassfed
- 1/2 cup coconut palm sugar
- 1/3 cup honey, preferably local and raw
- 1/4 teaspoons fine sea salt
- 6 large egg yolks
- 1/2 batch of shortbread, broken into 1/2~1 inch pieces
- 1 peach, peeled and diced small
- Cut the peaches in half and remove the pits. Add the peaches, including the skins, to the pitcher of a blender. Add the honey and lemon, and puree until smooth. Pour into a glass container and place in the refrigerator.
- Cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and using the tip of a paring knife, scrape out the seeds. Combine the vanilla bean (pod and seeds), cream, milk, 1/4 cup coconut palm sugar, honey, and salt in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat, gently whisking constantly, until the mixture reaches 175°F, when it is steaming. Remove from the heat.
- Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks and remaining coconut palm sugar together until smooth, about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in 1 cup of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture to temper. Pour the egg mixture into the sauce pan and whisk constantly over medium-low heat until the mixture reaches 180°F, 7~10 minutes.
- Immediately pour the mixture into a large bowl and let cool for 20 minutes. Cover tightly and place in the refrigerator to chill completely, at least 4 hours and up to 1 day.
- Remove the custard from the refrigerator. Pour through a fine mesh strainer into a large liquid measuring cup to strain our vanilla bean pod and any tiny pieces of egg that may have cooked unevenly. Following your machine's instructions, churn until the mixture resembles soft serve and registers 21°F, 15~25 minutes.
- Transfer half of the contents to a freezer-safe container such as a loaf pan. Dollop half of the peach puree evenly distribute half of the cookie crumbles and peach chunks. Repeat with the remaining ice cream base, puree, cookies, and peach pieces. Using a butter knife, swirl the ice cream with a figure eight pattern all around the ice cream. Smooth out the top and cover with plastic wrap on the surface. Freeze until firm, at least 2 hours, or up to 5 days before serving.**
- *Vanilla beans should be fragrant and pliable. Don't use very dry, brittle vanilla beans.
- **When ready to serve, let the ice cream rest on the counter for 5~10 minutes before serving for best flavor and ease of scooping.