Was there ever a more well-timed book release than this, a book celebrating seasonal ice cream, in the middle of the hottest summer we’ve had in years? La Grotta Ices is a beautiful book for the serious ice cream lovers amongst us.

In this recipe, liberally salted pine nut brittle is stirred into freshly churned, rosemary scented caramel custard ice cream.

FOR THE ICE CREAM:
120 g sugar
250 ml double cream
350 ml whole milk
Large pinch of sea salt
6 egg yolks
20 – 25 fresh rosemary leaves

FOR THE PINE NUT + ROSEMARY BRITTLE:
100 g pine nuts
100 g sugar
1 heaped teaspoon glucose syrup (makes caramel easier to manage)
20 g butter
15 g rosemary leaves
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt

To make the pine nut and rosemary brittle: toast the pine nuts over a very low heat in a pan for 10 minutes, until warmed and just coloured, then pour them into a bowl and cover with a clean tea towel to keep them warm.

Heat the sugar, glucose and a tablespoon of water together slowly in a pan until the grains of sugar have dissolved. Swirl the pan to mix; do not stir. Add the butter, bring the mix to the boil and boil steadily until it reaches 150°C on your digital thermometer.

Meanwhile, pick the rosemary leaves, adding them to the bowl of pine nuts along with the baking powder and sea salt, then mix well, ensuring there are no lumps of baking powder. Have a whisk or heat – proof spatula to hand.

As soon as the sugar reaches 150°C, or a dark caramel colour, tip the pine nut mix in and whisk well to combine. The mixture will bubble up because of the baking powder so use a long heatproof spatula or whisk to keep your hands safe from burns. Allow the nuts to toast to a pale gold colour in the caramel, then remove from the heat.

Pour the hot brittle evenly onto a silicone baking mat. Cover with another non-stick baking mat or a double sheet of buttered baking paper, and roll quickly and firmly with a wooden rolling pin to evenly spread the brittle into a half-centimetre layer. Leave to cool.

Break the brittle into large pieces and store between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container, or roughly smash into chunks ready to add to the freshly churned rosemary-caramel ice cream.

To prepare the ice cream: sprinkle the bottom of a heavy-based pan (ideally stainless steel) with 100 g of the sugar in even layer. Place it over a medium heat and cook slowly and without stirring until it begins to melt and caramelise. Swirl the pan to achieve even caramelisation. 195

Cook the caramel to a dark colour until just smoking, then pour in the cream and milk to stop the cooking process. Add the sea salt and warm the liquids over a medium heat to dissolve the caramel, this may take 10 minutes. Stir but do not boil as you don’t want to evaporate the liquid too much. Once the caramel has dissolved, whisk the remaining 20 g sugar with the egg yolks until combined.

Pour the hot liquid over the yolks in a thin stream, whisking continuously. Return all the mix to the pan and cook over a low heat until it reaches 82°C, stirring all the time to avoid curdling the eggs and keeping a close eye on it so as not to let it boil. As soon as your digital thermometer says 82°C, remove from the heat, add the fresh rosemary leaves and stir them in, then place the pan into a sink of iced water to cool. Speed up the cooling process by stirring the mix every so often. Once the custard is at room temperature, transfer it into a clean container, cover with cling film and chill.

To make the ice cream: the following day, use a small ladle to push the custard through a fine-mesh sieve or chinois into a clean container. Discard the rosemary leaves then liquidise the cold custard with a stick blender for a minute.

Pour the custard into an ice cream machine and churn according to the machine’s instructions until frozen and the texture of whipped cream, about 20 – 25 minutes.

Transfer the ice cream to a suitable lidded container, sprinkling in generous handfuls of crushed pine nut brittle as you go (you will need about half the amount you made). Top with a piece of waxed paper to limit exposure to air, cover and freeze until ready to serve.

Note – just in case you have any left, you can store any extra brittle between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container. I always save silica gel sachets and slip one of these in too for good measure (to help keep the brittle crisp ).

Recipe taken from La Grotta Ices, out now.