Fancy some bacon, chilli or feta cheese with your ice-cream? It sounds like something to be avoided, but savoury ice-cream really is more popular than you think
This summer, it's all about shunning your traditional vanilla ice-cream. It's grown-up, big time, and it's gone all savoury. How about a little scoop of caramel and chorizo? Or blue cheese and pear?
How did we get here, you may well ask. Well, bacon ice-cream originates from a 1973 sketch of the classic British show, The Two Ronnies, where a customer asks for cheese and onion flavoured ice-cream followed by smoky bacon. Hilarious, because who in their right mind would eat that?
It was 2001 when weird-science chef Heston Blumenthal perfected egg and bacon ice-cream as a signature dish at his Fat Duck restaurant. Then the world of savoury ice-cream went quiet until last summer when pop-up savoury ice-cream shop, Jacob's, opened in London's Soho and couldn't get the scoops out quick enough.
Now, the UK's finest purveyors of non-sweet iced treats is Purbeck Ice-Creams of Dorset, which offers flavours including wasabi, sweet fennel, watercress and the award-winning ChilliRED.
Co-founder Hazel Hartell told us: “People sometimes think the Great British public are a bit of a staid lot – but people are willing to try new things. At the moment, savoury ice-cream is a real talking point, especially among foodies who want to be able to say: 'I've tried that, have you?'"
Purbeck started making a savoury product in 2004 when the local fire station was having a Mexican-themed evening and they made a chilli flavoured ice-cream. Hartell said: “Much to our surprise, it tasted really good. At first you get that lovely layer of milk and cream on your tongue and then when you swallow it you get the after-kick of chilli – it messes with your head a bit, as it's both hot and cold.”
Now the ice-cream maker brings out a new flavour every year. Hartell added that the most surprising thing is seeing how people serve-up the dishes: “The chefs got hold of our ice-cream and said to us, 'You need to serve this with fish, or swirl it into some soup'. Rick Stein puts it on steaks in his restaurants as it melts down to a lovely sauce.
“Ultimately, it has changed ice-cream from just being a dessert to bringing it to the beginning of the meal.”
And with that in mind, we made some. It's easier than you think, so why not give it a go.
Feta and black pepper ice-cream
Makes 1 ice-cream container:
- 200g feta cheese
- 150ml soured cream
- 300ml single cream
- 150ml double cream
- 200g sugar
- 7 egg yolks
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1. Blitz the feta cheese, soured cream and half of the single cream in a blender or Nutribullet, like we have. (Today is not the day for healthy juices.)
2. Put the rest of the single cream, the double cream and half of the sugar into a saucepan. Warm gently for 4 or 5 minutes.
3. Whisk the 7 egg yolks up with the other half of the sugar.
4. Add the egg and sugar mixture to the cream mixture in the saucepan and heat very gently for about 5 minutes, until it thickens slightly but doesn't overcook the eggs or cream.
5. Pour into an ice-cream container and add the feta mixture from the blender. Grind fresh black pepper to your liking into the mix and stir well.
6. Leave to cool in a fridge for about 2 hours.
7. Place in a freezer for about 4 hours, whisking every 45 minutes to stop ice crystals forming.
8. Scoop and serve.
OK, so it's a bit time consuming (the total cooking and freezing time was about seven hours) unless you have an ice-cream maker, in which case, what are you waiting for?
We served it up with some wholewheat crackers and a drizzle of balsamic reduction – and it was delicious! It tastes quite similar to cheesecake and is incredibly moreish, but also incredibly full of calories. It'd make a great twist on a cheeseboard course to serve up at a dinner party. It's definitely time to relegate mint chocolate chip and the like to the back of the freezer.