Sure, it’s not hard to find good ice cream these days with high-end grocery stores like Whole Foods carrying every dairy permutation of impossibly artisanal flavors. But, nothing compares to the impossibly creamy, homemade real-deal like this ricotta fig ice cream.
This is the best ice cream to come out of my kitchen with layers of lusciously sweetened ricotta and deeply caramelized honey figs. The texture is silky and straight up decedent.
This is everything ricotta fig ice cream should be.
So, what makes a good ice cream? Well, that comes down to ingredients and technique.
Ice cream is mostly water, and water freezes into ice. Fat helps prevent the formation of those ice crystals and sugar helps by lowering the freezing point. The trick though is to balance texture and flavor. Too much fat and things taste too buttery. Not enough and things get icy. My standard ratio is around 2 parts cream : 1 part whole milk : 6 egg yolks. Add 150 g – or about 3/4 cup sugar – for each part whole milk. You’ll be rewarded with a rich but not too buttery texture.
Here, I used 2 cups of ricotta because I wanted a more pronounced ricotta flavor. Since the ricotta is whole milk, I swapped the 1 cup of whole milk for heavy cream and used a little more sugar to prevent ice crystals.
Once you’ve nailed the ingredients, aim for 180 degrees when cooking the custard. Anything higher means curdled eggs, and that means bad texture. Don’t rely on the imprecise trick of “cook until it coats the back of a spoon” to test doneness. You’ve come this far, so don’t stop now. I use an instant-read thermometer to be on the safe side. After, chill the ice cream base thoroughly – at least 8 hours – and churn, about 20 to 30 minutes.
Now we can talk about mix-ins and swirly goodness. Finally, I know.
Don’t, I repeat don’t, dump ingredients in while the ice cream is churning. That will only make a uniform mass. If you want pops of flavor (and you do), you want layers. Start with a base layer of ice cream and then drizzle or sprinkle some of your mix-ins. Add more ice cream and repeat.
Finally, pop the ice cream in the freezer to harden and enjoy a scoop of the best ice cream you’ve ever had.
Sweet Ricotta and Honey Roasted Fig Ice Cream
HONEY ROASTED FIGS
- 1.5 lbs 680 g mission figs, about 12
- 2 Tbsp 30 g unsalted butter
- 2 Tbsp 30 ml dark amber honey, such as clover honey
- Pinch sea salt
SWEET RICOTTA ICE CREAM
- 1 cup 236 ml heavy cream
- Pinch sea salt
- 3/4 cup 150 g sugar
- 6 large egg yolks
- 2 cups 453 g whole-milk ricotta cheese
- 1/4 cup 60 ml honey, plus more for drizzling
- 1 tsp 5 ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
Roast the Figs
- Preheat the oven to 450°F.
- Wipe the figs with a damp towel. With a paring knife, cut off the stems and halve from top to bottom leaving the base intact. Place the figs upright in a medium-sized skillet.
- In a small saucepan, melt the butter with the honey and salt and drizzle over the figs. Bake until the sauce is bubbling, about 10 minutes.
Make the Ice Cream
- Bring the cream, sugar, and salt to a simmer in a small saucepan and then remove from heat. Add the roasted figs, cover, and infuse for one hour. Strain the figs from the cream and pulse the figs in a blender or food processor until chunky, about 3-5 pulses. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use. Reserve the fig-infused cream.
- Before you make the ice cream, ready your work area. First, partially fill a large bowl with ice and water and then float a 2-liter bowl in the larger one. Set a strainer over the smaller bowl.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks until pale and frothy, about 10 seconds. Rewarm the fig-infused cream and then temper the eggs by slowly pouring about 1/3 of the cream into the yolks while constantly whisking as you pour. Add the egg and milk mixture back into the saucepan.
- Cook over medium-low heat, constantly stirring with a heat-resistant spatula until the custard registers 180°F degrees.
- Strain the custard into bowl over the ice bath and stir until cool. Pour the custard into a blender and puree with the honey, lemon juice, and ricotta until smooth, about a minute. Transfer the mixture to a container, cover, and chill overnight.
- Freeze the custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Turn off the machine and transfer some of the custard to a container. Swirl in some additional honey and fig puree. Repeat with the remaining custard and fig puree. Cover and store in the freezer until ready to serve, at least 8 hours.