I have been intrigued with fig leaf ice cream for some time and just waited for fresh figs to be available (to serve with the ice cream) before I made a batch!
In the meantime I have researched various recipes and as usual ended up creating my own using various ideas. I find American, David Lebovitz’s recipes are usually very good so I took some hints from him. I have fig trees in my garden, but I had to giggle at his one tip where he warns not to use leaves from trees growing on the pavement (he lives in New York) which the dogs may be using to lift their leg!
Apparently young leaves have more flavour,
but if you harvest these it will be a while before there is fruit to serve with the ice cream, that is if you want to serve it with the fresh fruit. I harvested smaller leaves that were protected from the harsh sun.
Another hint from David Lebovitz is to dry the leaves on a flat top grill to intensify the flavour. Obviously the leaves must not scorch. I simply placed the leaves on a wire rack in the sun and in no time they were almost desiccated. It was interesting to smell the fresh leaves and then observe how the smell intensified once they had dried.
Because the leaves need to infuse in the cream this recipe is prepared over a 12 hour period.
I use the ice cream churn for this recipe, but I do add a ‘manual’ method.
So what does fig leaf ice cream taste like?
The flavour does not clearly resemble fresh figs, but I found that it reminded me of green figs preserved in syrup. Others describe the flavour as a ‘mix of vanilla, coconut and a slightly nutty flavour’. When my guests tasted it they all found it to have a dominant coconut flavour.
Honey pairs well and enhances the flavour, so if you like use it in the recipe or serve the ice cream with a dish containing honey. Here I’m thinking of my Mom’s Apple Honey Cake! I served it with my Fresh Fig Tart (recipe here) or with grilled fresh figs and a drizzle of honey.
To grill the figs, cut figs in half, arrange them on a baking tray and pop them under a hot grill for just a few minutes until the edges begin to turn golden and bubble.