There was a moment, a couple of months ago, where I found myself sitting in a deserted, chillingly cold library, accompanied only be the whir of surrounding computers, the soft, soporific patter of fat city raindrops falling on the faceless windows, and a teetering pile of lecture notes, ready to be written up. None of these things were obvious to me, as I turned page after page of well thumbed textbooks, created brightly coloured diagrams of enzyme mechanisms of action and learnt the time it takes for the average lipid to pass through the cytosol of a bacterium from one end to another. Every few pages I’d quietly slip a rough, salty oatcake from it’s packet and snap a piece into my mouth to prevent the inevitable mid afternoon stomach rumbles.
I think it was at this point that I realised that something wasn’t right. The humble, boring oatcake seemed like a damning metaphor for how I was living. I was eating crackers as a form of subsistence, but they weren’t providing my body with sustenance. Just as, I realised, following this programme had just become something that I woke up to do in the morning; it wasn’t making me happy. I’ve been battling with this for months, and now, finally, I’ve made the decision to make a change. Although, now, my reason to wake up in the morning has gone, I’m using this time out to heal and recover. To fill my time with things that enrich me, by bringing flavour and excitement to my days.
This ice cream is the perfect example of something rich, and happy-making. The complete antithesis of the dry, insipid oatcakes that I was nibbling in the library. Though, still in the student mentality, this recipe has an air of frugality about it – using a remaining few chocolate beetroot cupcakes that were a little too dry to be enjoyed on their own, and the remaining egg yolks from a batch of macarons to make a smooth vanilla custard. As the silky buttercream icing melts into the warm, milky mixture, chestnut brown streaks begin to appear, and before long, the humble beginnings of a remarkable ice cream have been established.
The best part of this recipe is that no churning is necessary – just a little mixing now again, standing over the freezer, and surreptitious tastes of the semi-frozen crystals of chocolate languishing over the tastebuds. Time to recover.
chocolate cake semifreddo | plumful
3 egg yolks
200g golden caster sugar
250ml milk (I used semi-skimmed, and the results were good, but full fat would yield a creamier result)
6 chocolate cupcakes, frosted (equates to around 200g of cupcake!)
50g cocoa powder
Heat the milk in a pan over a medium heat until it is steaming, and on the verge of boiling. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks and sugar briskly in a large bowl, until pale and have increased in volume. Carefully pour the hot milk in small quantities over the eggs, whisking constantly. Once all of the milk has been incorporated, pour the custard back into the pan, and heat through, whisking frequently to avoid the formation of lumps. Once the custard is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, remove from the heat. Do not allow to boil! Break up the cupcakes into small pieces, and add to the custard in the pan along with the cocoa powder. Mix until a uniform colour, and pour into a freezer-safe tub. Freeze for two hours, then remove, and stir thoroughly, breaking up any crystallised lumps. Stir every two hours until firmly frozen – it is now ready to serve!