I am generally to blame for the sweet treats and temptations in this house. I mean, I bake a lot. A quick scan down Simmer’s recipe index proves my point – peanut butter sandwich cookies, scones, cannele, pots de crème not to mention pancakes and brunch cakes, the list goes on. But there’s one thing for which I can solidly lay the blame on John: ice cream. He almost always leaves the grocery store with a pint (or two.) When it comes to ice cream, this man’s got no loyalty; always dabbling in new brands and new flavors. There’s only one favorite that make regular return appearances in our freezer – Ben and Jerry’s Strawberry Cheesecake. I’m not huge into cheesecake or strawberry ice cream for that matter, but I got to say, kudos Ben, Jerry, and John, you won me over. John has this thing for graham crackers and ice cream that spills over to his frozen yogurt preferences – his go-to Berry Line topping is always strawberries, kiwi, and graham crumbs. I think he’s really onto something here. Before, graham crackers were reserved for smores and maybe the occasional pie crust, but I must say ice cream is an awfully nice place for them.
The most recent ice cream to make its debut in our freezer was Ciao Bella’s lime and graham cracker gelato. This is some mighty fine ice cream – strawberry cheesecake may have just found its match. So, with Ciao Bella on my mind, I somehow found myself walking out of the grocery store a few days ago with a bag of limes and a box of graham crackers. And once they found their way into my kitchen, I figured they might as well find their way into some ice cream. After all, it is almost June: definitely time to kick off the ice cream season.
For inspiration, I turned to a recipe for lemon ice cream speckled with meringue cookies I remembered reading in Nigel Slater’s Kitchen Diaries. The recipe peaked my interest because it’s quite unusual – more like a frozen nougat than a traditional frozen anglaise aka ice cream. You begin by making a quick lemon curd, or in this case lime, and then fold the curd into lightly whipped cream along with some juice, zest, sugar, yogurt, and cookie crumbs. The results are light but creamy, smooth with the crunch of graham, and stunningly sweet-tart limey delicious. A few extra graham crumbs and maybe some berries or just straight up on a cone, this would be the perfect memorial day weekend treat.
Best of all, the recipe is a breeze, and easily adaptable depending on how much time and equipment you have. I made mine using homemade curd (recipe below), but Slater uses bought for his lemon version which, providing you chose a good quality brand, would make a fine substitution. Even with the homemade curd, this recipe can easily be made all in one day, unlike most ice creams which require overnight chilling. Also, the original recipe suggests that you can actually freeze this ice cream without an ice cream maker, just in a shallow plastic tub – with regular stirring, it should take about 4 hours in the freezer. Lastly, the texture of this ice cream is so thick to begin with that when frozen in an ice cream maker, it comes out basically ready to serve. I’ve always had a romantic idea of serving ice cream straight from the churn for a summer dessert, but since most need some firm-up time in the freezer to be scoop-able, it’s never been a possibility; that is, until now.
So, without further ado, here it is: lime graham cracker ice cream. Welcome to summer.
For the Lime Curd
80g lime juice (I used 8 not so juicy limes)
85g, 6 tbsp granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
60g, 4 tbsp unsalted butter
Make the Curd: Cut the butter into small pieces (about ½ tbsp each) and leave at room temperature to soften. Combine the lime juice, eggs, sugar, and salt in a double boiler* over medium heat. Whisk until thick, and then remove from the heat and whisk in the butter until it is completely incorporated. Transfer to a cool bowl and refrigerate until cold, 1 to 2 hours.
*Make your own double boiler by placing a metal bowl over a pot with about 2 inches of simmering water in the bottom.
For the Ice Cream
1 pint, 2 cups heavy cream
½ cup powdered sugar
1 recipe lime curd (below), or 1 cup bought lime curd
¾ cup plain yogurt
Zest and juice of 2 limes
1 cup crushed graham cracker crumbs
Make the Ice Cream: Whip the cream until slightly thickened and then add the sugar and continue whipping until soft folds are visible; you don’t want stiff peeks. Carefully fold the cooled lime curd, the yogurt, and the zest and juice. Lightly fold in the graham crackers* last. Freeze using an ice cream maker, following the manufacturer’s instructions – this should take 15-20 minutes. Alternately, place in a shallow plastic tub and freeze, stirring regularly, for 4 hours (see head note.) If the ice cream is completely frozen at the time you plan to serve it (as in you made it ahead), you’ll want to take it out of the freezer about 20 minutes before serving to soften slightly.
*Crush the graham crackers by placing them in a zip lock bag and bashing them lightly (or aggressively, depending on your mood) with a rolling pin. You want course crumbs and small pieces, not powder.