The Chef reveals some of the fresh spring flavours to expect from Cucina Vivo’s new takeaway ice cream menu, and shares some kitchen hacks for making a quality ice cream base at home.
In our opinion, ice cream is appropriate in all seasons. But spring is upon us, and the warmer weather means that the prospect of a well-stacked cone is even more enticing. In celebration of Cucina Vivo launching its takeaway ice cream offering, we spoke to Chef de Cuisine Dayan Hartill-Law about the classic and unusual flavours that you can expect from the new menu – from refreshing peach sorbet to the inception dessert experience of “vanilla slice cream”.
For all you aspiring ice cream makers out there, he also shares some kitchen hacks – including a clever, frost-busting way to store ice cream in a home freezer – and a recipe for a Chef-quality ice cream base.
Can you give us a run-down of the ice cream making process at Cucina Vivo?
We work to two different philosophies with regards to ice cream and gelati in Cucina Vivo. The first is to have our staple flavours but then to wrap some seasonal treats around those. Right now, for instance, we have new-season peach sorbet, which is so delicious. We then have a range of ice creams that are a little more fun and nostalgic. They draw upon an absurd thought, and then I tell my pastry chef what I want to do with it. They hate me at first, but once the idea is nailed the joy the pastry team has is like no other. Just last week this happened with a new line we will be running – a vanilla slice ice cream (“vanilla slice cream”, as I like to call it) – was nailed .
What are the basic pieces of equipment you need to make ice cream at home?
Personally I don’t do ice cream at home, just because it’s so hard for me to go from a freshly churned or Paco-jetted ice cream to anything a domestic product can deliver. I also see the prices of some of the kit and I think, “Man, just go and buy a liquid nitrogen dewer and a mixer!”. Much easier! But when I do make iced treats at home, I will make a semi-freddo or a granita, as they are easy to execute without the specialist tools.
What are some refreshing spring ingredients that incorporate well into ice cream?
Spring is abundant and really the time when I love to look outside the box. I have a Meyer lemon tree at home that is literally two feet tall, but has a million blossoms on it. I have made a lemon blossom syrup with the fallen petals, which will turn into a granita, which will undoubtedly turn into ice for vodka.
I love native ingredients as well. Within our region [on the Gold Coast], this is my favourite time to go out and forage for berries, such as native raspberries or Atherton berries. The latter are great with a lantana flower accent as they taste of rose.
To get a better idea of what’s in season, speak to growers at farmers markets. Anything over-ripe will generally juice on the day with optimum sweetness, which will give pure flavour to ice creams and sorbets.
What are some of your favourite classic flavour combinations?
There are too many to list really. The combination of milk chocolate and blood orange always holds a special place for me, as does mangosteen and white chocolate.
What are some unusual ingredients that go together surprisingly well?
I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about blue cheese and white chocolate – it’s a true mind-bender. Bourbon and Corn Flakes is a good combination for a cheeky savoury creation, and strawberry and balsamic is an easy win.
Gelato vs ice cream: what are the differences?
Simply speaking, gelato is lower in fat content and it is churned faster. This creates a lighter and more easily palatable product, whereas ice cream retains a higher fat content to create a richer product.
Do you have any tips for storing ice cream made at home? Will a regular freezer cut it?
I am going through this drama now with my freezer at home. So, I brought a little polystyrene esky that I put all my ice creams in. In turn, I put the ice-cream-filled esky in the freezer, which insulates the ice cream and ensures they don’t get the full extent of the freezer’s wrath.
Can you share a simple ice cream recipe that people can make at home?
I use a similar base for most ice creams I make, but you may need to adjust a little here or there to get you where you need to go. For instance, if it’s too icy, add a little more cream; if it’s too rich, dial down the sugar.
- 12 egg yolks
- 120g sugar
- 1L cream
- 1 vanilla pod
- 120g flavour (fruit purée, chocolate or anything else you like)
- Bring 800g of cream and vanilla to a simmer. Whisk your yolks and sugar until light and fluffy and slowly incorporate the cream mixture while whisking to ensure it emulsifies well.
- Cook the cream mixture over a double boiler, aiming for around 72°C. If, like me, you prefer to see the result, whisk until you can make the liquid hold on itself for a figure-eight pattern – this is called “the ribbon stage”. Then pour this liquid into an ice bath (if using chocolate add this here). Whilst in the ice bath, continue moving the liquid to ensure it doesn’t set.
- Once cool, add the fruit if you’re using it, as well as the remainder of the cream. From here, depending on your situation, either churn according to manufacturer’s instructions or in a Kitchen Aid with liquid nitrogen.