Monday, 17 June 2013
BSFIC: goats cheese, thyme and honey semifreddo
The theme for the summer BSFIC challenge is herbs. I was initially stumped - I couldn't think of anything other than luridly green mint choc chip - but eventually my ideas did crystallise.
My favourite ice cream from last year was the blue cheese, quince, olive oil and pistachio concoction I arrived at for the savoury ice cream challenge in November. So I decided to play around with a similar family of flavours. A cheese, a dried fruit, a nut and a luscious Mediterranean sweetness from thyme-infused honey.
I had half a log of soft, mild goats cheese in the fridge (I've been indulging in goats cheese and persimmon toast for breakfast again), so that was my cheese component sorted. I also had half a pack of chopped walnuts and a few baby marinated figs in the pantry. The only things I actually needed to buy were thyme and a pot of cream.
The flavour was excellent. First up on the nose and palate is the honey, with a little sharp lemonyness from the thyme, then a very subtle savouryness from the goats cheese. All interspersed with the soft grainy figs and chunks of walnut. Really delicious, and probably a good starting point for anyone who is sceptical about cheesy ice cream. Not as good a flavour as the blue cheese and quince though...
Goats cheese, thyme and honey semifreddo (makes 6-8 slices)
big handful lemon thyme
170ml double cream (or 150 or 200ml - it comes in a 170ml pot)
75g soft goats cheese
2 eggs, separated
50g chopped walnuts
50g miniature preserved figs, chopped
1/2 tsp very small thyme leaves & flowers, extra
Firstly reserve some of the smallest thyme leaves and any flowers in the bunch. Combine the honey and a big handful of thyme in a small saucepan (easiest to weigh the honey straight into the saucepan) and put over a low heat, bringing gently to the boil, then removing from the heat and allowing to sit and infuse for about 10 minutes (or as long as it takes to do the rest of it).
Whip the egg whites to stiff peaks in one bowl. Mash the goats cheese in another bowl with a fork, gradually adding the cream until smooth. Whip the cheesy cream to soft peaks (I do egg whites then cream so I can use the same beaters without washing them in between - it doesn't hurt the cream to have a bit of egg white still on them).
Whisk the egg yolks in yet another bowl, pouring the strained honey into them gradually. Whisk to a froth.
Fold together the contents of the three bowls, trying not to lose too much volume but without leaving white streaks of cream or egg white. Then fold in the reserved thyme leaves and flowers, chopped walnuts and chopped figs.
Pour into a cling-film lined loaf tin, cover with more cling film and freeze.
Serve, cut into slices, with a little scattering of more thyme leaves as a garnish.