This is the richest and creamiest ice cream I’ve made to date on the blog, and the recipe is unusual in a few different ways. For one thing it includes mascarpone cheese in the base. That helps keep it beautifully scoopable even after a night in the freezer. The mascarpone lends a lusciousness that lingers on the palate, and it has a long culinary history with figs — they bring out the best in each other. I can’t think of another fruit that is as full bodied as Black Mission figs. They have great color and flavor, too, which all translates into an extra special gelato.
But even though figs do have a wonderful natural flavor, flavors can easily get lost in ice creams and gelatos. It has to do with the dulling effect of the creamy ingredients and the cold temperature. The flavor of this gelato came alive when I made a few small but essential additions to it as it churned away for its last few minutes in the machine. A dash of brandy, a dash of balsamic vinegar, and most important of all, the juice of a lemon. They took what could have been a shy, understated flavor and woke it up.
This is definitely a sophisticated flavor, great for an adult dinner party, but I don’t think it would be as big a hit with the kids. Which could be a good thing, now that I think of it. That just leaves more for you and me.
- 1 lb Black Mission figs
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 8 oz package of mascarpone cheese (an Italian cream cheese)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar
- 1 Tbsp Brandy
- juice of 1 lemon
- Set oven to 400F
- Rinse and cut off the stems of the figs. Slice them in half and lay out, cut side up, on a baking sheet. Roast for 15 minutes.
- Put the roasted figs into a food processor and puree them until completely smooth. Scrape down the sides of the machine a few times to make sure you get everything thoroughly pureed. Chill the puree.
- Put the cream, sugar, condensed milk, and mascarpone cheese in the food processor or blender. Process until the marscapone is completely blended into the cream. Chill the mixture.
- When everything is really cold, pour the cream mixture into your ice cream machine along with the fig puree. Process until almost finished, and then add in the vinegar, Brandy, and lemon juice. Taste the ice cream to adjust the amounts. Continue to process according to your machine's directions.
- Fold the soft gelato into a container and put it in the freezer for at least several hours to allow it to firm up.