Do you ever feel like shouting, “Look what I made!”? I so wanted to when I first savoured a spoon of this exotic ice-cream. You see, I finally bought an ice-cream maker this summer, and couldn’t wait to try this recipe. As I mentioned before, I have been cooking my way through Elizabeth Bard’s, “Picnic In Provence”. She and her husband are the owners of Scaramouche Ice-Cream shop in Paris and she created this recipe as an homage to her husband’s Moroccan heritage. Ras-el-Hanout is the iconic spice mix of Morocco and is used to flavour various tagines or couscous. But in ice-cream? Well, it is sublime!
I have to be honest with you… the first time I made it, I added garlic to the ras-el-hanout mix. Well, the fragrance was a bit curious, but we all scarfed the ice-cream down in one sitting. The second time around, I eliminated the garlic and everything about it was divine. This ice-cream would be gorgeous with a warm, apple pie. I served it with pumpkin pie and it was to die for.
Ras-el-Hanout Ice-Cream with Grilled Almonds
1/3 cup sliced almonds
4 egg yolks
¾ cup sugar
2 ½ cups whole milk
½ cup heavy cream
1 ½ teaspoons ras-el-hanout
Toast the almond slices in a small frying pan, until golden. Remove from the frying pan to a plate and allow to cool.
In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar until a light lemon yellow. Set aside.
Prepare an ice bath – a large mixing bowl full of ice cubes. Set aside. Find your fine mesh strainer and leave it near the ice bath.
Pour the milk and cream into a medium saucepan and add the ras-el-hanout. Heat over a low flame, until it is just about to boil. Turn off the flame, then slowly add the hot milk to the egg mixture, whisking quickly and continuously to combine.
Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring continuously until the cream coats the back of a wooden spoon, about 5 minutes.
Immediately pour the custard through the fine-mesh strainer back into the mixing bowl. Cool briefly in the ice bath, whisking for a few minutes until the cream has cooled a bit. Store in an airtight container in the fridge, if possible for 24 hours to allow the flavours to develop. Freeze in your home ice-cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
After churning, mix in the toasted almonds. Freeze in an airtight container for an hour or two before serving.
Keeps about a week, but in terms of texture, it is the best if it is eaten the day that it is churned.
Ras-el-Hanout Spice Mix
Ras-el-Hanout is the defining flavour of Morocco. It is known as the country’s “National Spice Mix”. The name actually means “heap of the shop” or “top of the shop” and every household and spice vendor will have their own recipe. The constants are coriander, cumin, cinnamon, nutmeg and some form of heat in the way of chiles and pepper. This recipe is based on the one given in “Mourad: New Moroccan” by Mourad Lahlou. He used a number of spices that I didn’t have, so I left them out. His recipe also calls for garlic powder. I used this in my first recipe for the ice-cream, but the second time I made it, I eliminated the garlic and it made a much nicer spice mix for the ice-cream.
Ras-el-Hanout Spice Mix
Whole spices to be toasted: Measure these and put them in a medium heavy frying pan or cast-iron skillet.
3 tablespoons coriander seeds
1½ tablespoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons lemon peel
1¼ teaspoons fennel seeds
14 allspice berries
½ teaspoon caraway seeds
One 1½-inch piece cinnamon stick broken into pieces
10 green cardamom pods, shelled and seeds reserved
½ teaspoon peppercorns
2 black cardamom pods, shelled and seeds reserved
¼ teaspoon whole mace
1 chile de arbol
8 whole cloves
1 star anise
Whole spices you won’t toast: Measure them and put them in a bowl.
3 teaspoons dried rosebuds
½ teaspoon brown mustard seeds
Ground spices: Measure these and stir them together in a separate bowl.
2 ¼ teaspoons powdered ginger
2 ½ teaspoons grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon citric acid
Place the toasting spices in a medium frying pan over medium heat and toast gently until they are fragrant. This should take about 4 – 5 minutes. They will begin to smoke and smell nutty, but should not burn. It is better to under-toast them rather than burn them, as they will become bitter. Once they have toasted, remove them to a piece of parchment paper. Do not leave them in the frying pan, as they will continue to toast.
Add the first and second group of spices to your spice grinder and grind until they are finely powdered. Place them in a bowl and add the last group of spices and mix them all well. Store in a glass jar.