To be honest, I made this ice cream in October and I’ve been sitting on the recipe ever since, waiting for December. That’s because it’s December flavored ice cream. The recipe came from David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop, and in a book of great recipes, this one is among the best. Mr. Lebovitz doesn’t call it December ice cream, he calls it Panforte, which also has a nice ring. Like the dense Italian cake after which it’s named, this ice cream is sweetened with honey and laced with cloves, nutmeg, almonds and candied citrus peel.
It’s French style, which means it’s made of a cooked egg yolk custard, and that makes it a bit trickier to make than Philadelphia style (no custard), but it yields a great, smooth, silky textured ice cream, that, combined with the crunch and tooth of the almonds and peel, is absolutely fantastic, and very festive. I know winter is not ice cream making season exactly, but I assure you, this ice cream will get you hot and bothered in spite of the cold.
Panforte Ice Cream
Adapted from The Perfect Scoop
Candied Citrus Peel
makes about ½ cup
- 2 large lemons or oranges, preferably organic (no wax on the zest), or a mix of the two
- 1 cup water
- ½ cup sugar
- 1½ tsp light corn syrup
- pinch of salt
With a vegetable peeler, remove strips of peel 1 inch wide from the citrus, cutting lengthwise down the fruit. Take only the colorful peel, leaving the bitter white pith behind. Using a sharp knife, slice the peel lengthwise into very thin strips.
Put the strips of peel in a small, nonreactive saucepan, add enough water to cover them by a few inches, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a gentle boil and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, strain the peel, and rinse with fresh water.
Combine the cup of water, sugar, corn syrup, and salt in the saucepan. Fit the pan with a candy thermometer and bring to a boil. Add the blanched peel, reduce the heat, and cook at a very low boil for about 25 minutes, until the thermometer reads 230˚F. Turn off the heat and let the peel cool in the syrup. Once cool, lift the peel out of the syrup with a fork, letting the syrup drain away. This can be served atop ice cream, or chopped and used in the following recipe. Store excess peel in the syrup in the fridge for up to 2 months.
- 1 cup half and half
- ⅔ cup sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 4 large egg yolks
- 3 Tbsp honey
- ¼ cup mixed candied citrus peel
- ½ cup almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
Warm the half-and-half, sugar, and spices in a medium saucepan. Cover, remove from heat, and let steep for 30 minutes at room temperature.
Rewarm the spice-infused mixture. Pour the cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer over top. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warmed mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the mixture back into the saucepan.
Stir the mixture constantly over medium-low to medium heat with a spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Don’t rush this step, it may take 10 minutes or so. If you hurry it along, you may be having a little breakfast (scrambled eggs) with your ice cream. Pour the custard through the strainer into the cream. Discard the cinnamon stick. Stir the custard until cool over an ice bath. While it’s cooling, warm the honey in a small saucepan, then stir it into the custard.
Chill the mixture throughly in the refrigerator. Even though you’re about to pour it into your frozen ice cream maker, the chilling step is actually very important for the final texture. Give it at least a few hours in the fridge. When cold, freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. During the last few minutes of churning, add the citrus peel and almonds.
Makes about 1 quart