Bergamot Ice Cream
Take the most out of these fragrant, seasonal bergamots, by making this Bergamot Ice Cream. It is intensely flavoured and fluffs up like a dream.
Bergamots are those beautiful, bright orange citruses which appear on the market around spring. Although they are not cherished for their juice, their peel is incredibly aromatic; therefore this is what is used to create distinctive desserts.
Most bergamot ice cream recipes follow the infusion method, which means warming the milk, zesting the bergamots into it and allowing it to infuse. This method is ok for most citruses, but in the case of bergamots, it doesn’t seem to make the most of its fragrances.
However, I choose to follow the oleo – saccharum method, which results in a much more intense bergamot ice cream. With this method, you peel the bergamot with a vegetable peeler, then massage the peels with the sugar and let it rest for a few hours. During this time, the sugar absorbs the natural aromatic oils of the bergamot peel; after that, you proceed with the recipe.
The resulting Bergamot Ice Cream, is not only dreamy-creamy and aromatic, but you can also take it a step further by making a fragrant bergamot powder out of the peels. The powder can be then layered in the ice cream, creating elegant swirls and adding flavour to the ice cream.
Bergamot Ice Cream – the recipe
Before starting, make sure that your ice cream maker will be ready for churning when needed. This means that if it has a removable freezer bowl, it should be put in the freezer for the whole time indicated by the manufacturer, usually 24 hours.
Making the bergamot powder is totally optional, so you may skip this step if you like.
This batch is for an ice cream maker of 1.5 lt/qrt capacity (or more).
Active preparation time: 30 minutes total
Resting time: 10 hours minimum in total
Using a vegetable peeler, remove the bergamot peel in wide strips, trying to avoid the white pith.
Put the bergamot peels along with the sugar in a large bowl and massage with your fingers for 1-2 minutes to release the bergamot oils.
Cover and leave at room temperature for 3 to 24 hours (see notes for further storage). Give a good stir once or twice during this time. The more you leave it, the more intense the bergamot flavour will be.
You can leave the massaged peels, covered, from 3 to 24 hours, in room temperature.
After that, you can put it in the refrigerator and store for 4 more days.
The peeled bergamots or bergamot juice will not be used in this recipe.
If you need them for another use, you will have to protect them from drying out; put them in a sealable bag and store in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days.
Fact: When you boil plain milk, it curdles.
To warm plain milk, do it over medium heat, stirring it often; remove from the heat when it is just hot. Going beyond this point will make it curdle.
To boil milk with sugar, gently warm it over medium heat, stirring often to ensure that the sugar is completely dissolved; then you can raise the heat and bring it to a boil.
In a medium 2 litre (2 quart) saucepan with a long handle, gently warm the milk over medium heat, until slightly warm. Do not let it boil, or it will curdle.
Pour the warm milk over the sugar and bergamot peels and stir well. Return everything to the saucepan, over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar is fully dissolved.
Meanwhile, put the corn flour in the bowl (same bowl used for the bergamot sugar is ok) and pour over 2-3 Tbs. of the heavy cream, mixing well to create a slurry. Put a mesh strainer over the top.
Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the milk to a boil.
As soon as it starts to boil, pour it over the strainer and into the corn flour slurry.
Remove the strainer and stir the mixture for a minute, to thicken.
Add the rest of the heavy cream and cool as instructed in step 4.
Wash the bergamot peels under lukewarm running water and pat them dry. Lay them in a shallow baking tray, lined with baking paper.
Put them in the lowest heat in the oven (about 50ºC / 122ºF, preferably fan setting), stirring every hour, until fully dehydrated. Depending on your oven, this may take around 3 hours.
However, if they start turning brown at the edges, switch off the oven and place a spoon to leave it ajar.
When they are dry and thoroughly cooled, pulverise to a fine powder with an electric grinder.
Leave the bergamot ice cream mixture to come to room temperature, around 1 hour, stirring often. When it is tepid, you have to thoroughly cool it before churning. To do so, you can choose between:
Pass the ice cream mixture through a fine mesh sieve and into a sealable container.
Refrigerate for 12 hours and up to 3 days.
Put the ice cream mix in a sealable bag, place it in a large container or kitchen sink and fully cover it with lots of ice. Leave for 3-4 hours to thoroughly chill.
Before churning, check if the ice cream mix is thoroughly cold:
• an instant-read thermometer should read 4º C (39º F) when submerged in the ice cream mix
• if no thermometer is available, check with your index finger; the ice cream mix should feel fridge-cold to the touch.
If needed, add more ice and leave until thoroughly chilled.
Personally, I recommend the slow method, as the ice cream mixture matures and the flavours improve during the refrigeration process.
However, to most people this flavour improvement goes unnoticed, therefore feel free to follow the method which is more convenient to you.
Prepare the ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
With the machine running, pour the chilled bergamot ice cream mixture through the canister and into the ice cream machine.
Churn until the bergamot ice cream is fluffed up and creamy. Depending on your ice cream maker, this may take up to 40-50 minutes.
Remove the bowl from the ice cream maker and put it directly in the freezer, as per instructions in step 4.
Straight after churning, the ice cream has a soft-serve consistency and melts immediately upon contact with anything. This makes it impossible to serve or transfer to another container.
Putting it directly in the freezer for 4-5 hours after churning, will help it set and reach the right consistency.
Then you can serve it or transfer to a sealable container for longer storing.
Cover the ice cream maker’s bowl (with the ice cream in it) with a lid and place it into the freezer.
Leave for 4-5 hours for the bergamot ice cream to set.
After that, you can serve it; or transfer to a sealable container for long term storing.
This bergamot ice cream, like all artisanal ice creams, freezes hard in the long term.
To soften it to a scoopable consistency , put it in the refrigerator for one hour.
Discard after one month of keeping in the freezer.