Peach blossoms offer the first perfume of a southern summer and the fruits that follow the flowers enhance this version of Lincoln Parish Peach Ice Cream. Why Lincoln Parish? Because it’s the location of Louisiana’s annual peach festival. This year’s peach appreciation days fall on June 26th and 27th in downtown Ruston, La. You can check on the details at the Louisiana Peach Fest website.
But in the meantime there’s ice cream to be made. And there are probably as many ways with peach ice cream as there are people planning to attend the festival. The version we made at home during my childhood was vanilla with cut up peaches swirled in at the end. This is good, but unless you chop the peaches very finely you end up with frozen peach rocks that might break a tooth. Then there is the pureed peach which never seems to be quite peachy enough for my taste. The final option is to leave the peaches out of the ice cream altogether, make a compote, and spoon it over the vanilla ice cream. This is actually great and is how I usually serve it because you can get away with not making the ice cream at all!
However, since you readers are expecting an ice cream recipe we’ll skip the compote plus Häagen Dazs option and go for one hundred percent homemade.
The base is a vanilla custard where the sugar is caramelized first and then cooked. It gives it a butterscotch flavor that works well with the peach. However, if you prefer pure vanilla you can skip that step.
In doing the research for this posting I ran across an interesting recipe which has you steeping peach leaves in the cream mixture for an hour. I would never do this and I even have a peach tree behind my house. The reason given was the leaves’ ability to impart an “almond like aroma” that enhanced the peach. That was when a little light went on inside my head. Years ago I discovered when making my peach compote that almond extract was better than vanilla as a flavor enhancer for peaches. So that’s how I make it – with peaches plus their juice, a little lemon zest, honey, and almond extract.
This got me to thinking. What if you make the compote, pulse it in a food processor, then fold that into the custard? Wouldn’t that be a tasty compromise between peach rocks and puree?
Marshmallows. At first I tried toasting them but they stick to the pan even if it’s greased and trying to lift them off closely resembles a person taking a bite of a melted mozzarella cheese sandwich. Then the browned part sticks to your finger and you must attempt to remove it with the other hand. In short, very little of the toasted goodness makes it into the ice cream.
Cue the fluff….as in marshmallow fluff. With a greased spoon you can drop in as small or large dollops as you like with minimal fuss.
In keeping with the almond theme you may add some toasted ones to the ice cream or even a few shreds of mint.
- For the ice cream base:
- 1 cup whole milk
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 cups heavy cream
- pinch of salt
- ½ of a vanilla bean, cut in half lengthwise, about 4 inches
- 5 large egg yolks
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- ¾ tsp. almond extract
- 1 to 2 tsp. peach liqueur (optional)
- 1 jar of marshmallow fluff
- For the peach compote:
- 1½ cup peaches, peeled & cut into chunks, about 1¼ lbs. or 4 medium peaches
- t tablespoon water
- ⅓ cup brown sugar
- lemon zest to taste
- several gratings of nutmeg
- ¼ tsp. almond extract
- For the ice cream:
- Heat the sugar in a pan until caramelized to a light brown.
- Add the milk, salt, and 1 cup of the cream. This will harden the caramelized sugar, so hold it over low heat till the sugar is dissolved.
- Take the tip of a knife and run it down the inside of each half of the split bean, getting as many seeds into the cream as possible. Then drop the bean in and let the mixture stand for 30 minutes.
- In a top section of a double boiler beat the yolks. Incorporate the warm cream mixture gradually into the yolks. Whisk well and cook over a low heat till it thickens, taking care never to let it boil. When it coats a spoon it’s done.
- Now strain the cooked custard into a bowl containing the other cup of cream. When it has cooled a little add the vanilla, almond extracts and peach liqueur. Put that bowl into an ice bath and mix well.
- Stir in the peach compote mixture. (Instructions below)
- When it’s cooled somewhat, cover with plastic wrap and put into the fridge till very cold.
- Once it is thoroughly chilled (at least a couple of hours), pour into the ice cream freezer and freeze according to instructions.
- Put the finished ice cream into a container that has been chilled.
- For the compote:
- Peel the peaches and cut into chunks. If they are hard to peel boil a pot of water skewer them and hold them by a fork in the water for a minute or so and the skin will peel easily.
- Put into a sauce pan and put the brown sugar in them along with lemon zest. There should be enough juice for the sugar to dissolve, but if not. add a tablespoon of water.
- Cook for a couple of minutes over medium heat until the peaches are just a little softened.
- Smash with a potato ricer or pulse a few times in a food processor. You want to end up with visible pieces of peach but they should be small and floating in peach syrup.
- Set aside and let cool before adding to the custard.
- For the fluff:
- After the ice cream is finished churning and ready to put in the freezer grease an iced tea sized spoon and dip into the fluff.
- Drop the little spoon fulls of fluff into the still soft ice cream and stir gently to distribute.