Pedro Ximenez, Vanilla & Raisin Ice Cream
'The Andalusian towns of Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlucar de Barrameda and Puerto de Santa Maria ... are ribboned with vineyards. According to Spanish law, the Palamino Fino grapes harvested from these vines are the only ones that can be used to make ... Spanish sherry. Jerez harbors most of the areas bodegas, the warehouses in which the legendary wines are fermented, aged and bottled'. Joyce Goldstein, Savouring Spain & Portugal.
Back in the 1960s, there was a weekend gelato van parked at the Red Hill lookout in Canberra, and my parents often treated my siblings and I to a Sunday drive and ice cream. We would sit on the stone benches, chatting and slurping on ice cream cones, all the while taking in the sweeping views of the capital.
Since childhood, rum and raisin has been one of my most favourite ice cream flavours. I would choose it over chocolate, strawberry, coffee, vanilla bean or lemon any time and still enjoy it to this day. Hence, Diana Henry's recipe for Raisin and Sherry Ice Cream in her enchanting Crazy Water Pickled Lemons (Octopus, 2002) caught my eye. It's a more grown up version of rum and raisin, in that you add a splash of syrupy Pedro Ximenez (PX) when you serve it. I have renamed the dish to Pedro Ximenez, Vanilla and Raisin ice cream to reflect the use of the PX and also the vanilla bean flavour, which comes through quite nicely. I note Rick Stein has a version of this recipe in his Spain cookbook.
I use Gonzalez Byass Pedro Ximenez 'Nectar' in making the ice cream. Gonzalez Byass is a large scale family company that was established in 1835 in central Jerez, Spain. The company apparently hit a rough patch in the 1980s when outside investors became involved, however the stock is now back in family hands and the brand is firmly back on its feet. There are tasting notes for the Nectar here. This multi-award winning sherry is somewhat less expensive than some of the other imported varieties, but is nonetheless sweet, rich and intensely flavoured.
This Pedro Ximenez, Vanilla & Raisin Ice Cream ice cream is lip-smacking delicious, dear readers! What's your favourite ice cream flavour, and why do you like it so?
PEDRO XIMENEZ, VANILLA AND RAISIN ICE CREAM
400mls full cream milk
1 fresh vanilla pod, split
90g vanilla infused caster sugar
5 egg yolks (make meringue with the whites)
100mls Pedro Ximenez Sherry
To serve: a splash of Pedro Ximenez, well chilled
Soak the raisins in the sherry. Pour the milk into a saucepan and add the vanilla pod, scraping the seeds into the milk. Heat the milk to just before boiling point, then turn off the heat and allow the vanilla to infuse for half an hour.
Beat the sugar and egg yolks together in a pyrex bowl until pale and creamy. Heat the milk again to just before boiling point, remove the vanilla pod and stir the milk into the egg and sugar mixture. Pop the bowl on top of a saucepan of simmering water and stir the mixture constantly until it begins to thicken to a custard. Test on the back of a wooden spoon. If the custard coats the back of the spoon and leaves a trail if you run your finger through, it is ready. Transfer it immediately to a large pouring jug and allow it to cool.
Add the sherry soaked raisins and the PX liquid to the custard mixture. Beat the cream until it begins to thicken and add it to the custard mixture. Churn the custard in an ice cream machine and then freeze it until in a container until you are ready to serve it. Serves 4-6. When serving, add a splash of well-chilled Pedro Ximenez over the ice cream.
Note, Diana Henry suggests that due to the raisins being in the mixture, you cannot beat it in a food processor.
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.