"This is one of my favourite desserts, prepared only in the summer when the berries are at their best. I love the way the rich, vibrant berries are hidden beneath a blanket of white, snow-like ice-cream and meringue, beautiful on the palate and pleasing to the eye. Because the full flush of the berry season rarely intersects with the ripening of the first of the fresh figs, I use the young green fig leaves that shoot at the start of summer for this dessert. They have a subtle green flavour, which comes from the milky sap, and an elusive figgy perfume that rapidly fades, so be sure to make the ice-cream the same day the leaves are picked."
Fig leaf ice-cream
- 250 ml milk
- 250 ml pouring cream
- 250 gm sugar
- 2 tbsp liquid glucose
- Finely grated rind of ½ lemon
- ½ vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
- 6 medium-sized fig leaves, torn
- 500 ml plain yoghurt
- To serve: good-quality aged balsamic vinegar
- 2 eggwhites
- 120 gm caster sugar
- 2 pinches of ground cloves
- 10 strawberries, halved
- 1 tsp icing sugar
- 10 blueberries
- 15 raspberries
- 2 mint leaves, finely shredded
- 1For fig leaf ice-cream, combine milk, cream, sugar, glucose, lemon rind and vanilla seeds in a stainless-steel saucepan. Bring to the simmer then remove from heat, add fig leaves and leave to infuse for 20 minutes. Strain into a bowl, add yoghurt and whisk vigorously to incorporate. Strain again before churning in an ice-cream machine according to manufacturer’s instructions.
- 2Next, make the meringue. Preheat oven to 70C and line an oven tray with baking paper. Whisk eggwhites until soft peaks form. Slowly add sugar and a pinch of salt, and continue whisking for another 3-5 minutes until meringue is stiff and glossy. Finally, fold though ground cloves. Tip meringue onto prepared oven tray and use a palette knife to spread it out as thinly as possible (about 3mm). Bake for 3 hours or until meringue has completely dried, and is crisp and brittle.
- 3For the berries, place strawberries in a mixing bowl and sprinkle with icing sugar. Using a fork, crush strawberries to a pulp (do not reduce to a purée), then fold through blueberries, raspberries and shredded mint. Leave fruit to macerate for 10 minutes.
- 4To serve, gently mix berries and divide among six bowls. Place a scoop of fig-leaf ice-cream on top. Lightly crush meringue and scatter over ice-cream, then drizzle with a few drops of balsamic vinegar.
Note*Cumulus Inc. by Andrew McConnell is published by Penguin Lantern ($59.95, hbk). This extract has been reproduced with minor GT* style changes.