We’ve been having a scorcher of a summer. Long, hot, sunny days and still, sticky nights punctuated by the odd thunderstorm; made bearable by the reassuring whirr of the electric fan. Not that I am complaining after the utterly miserable summers we have suffered in recent years but I have been making a LOT of ice-cream. Separating eggs, making custards, freezing egg-whites, planning on making meringues… But precisely because it has been so hot, I have been reluctant to switch on the oven and to be perfectly honest, mine is really playing up, which makes me even more reluctant to bake in it. And then I discovered that there is an ingredient which makes a rich tasting ice-cream, which yields easily under a greedy spoon; which does not involve custards, more freezing of egg whites or even churning. This magic ingredient is sweetened condensed milk – that stalwart of the banoffee pie. It is quite incredible and not a little dangerous because with a pot of double cream, a tin of condensed milk and some flavourings, you are only a couple of hours away from a gorgeous frozen nirvana.
Condensed milk (it is usually always sweetened) is essentially milk which has had water removed and sugar added to it. With an incredibly long shelf life, it and was ordered in great quantities as rations for American soldiers fighting the Civil War in the 1860’s. They spread the word on their return home which is when this ingredient was adopted into the mainstream. Now, of course, it is known everywhere; used for making sweet treats as well as for adding to coffee, tea and even stout.
Indeed, my first foray in the kitchen was as a toddler and involved my granny slicing up stale white bread into fingers and laying out separate bowls of condensed milk and coconut flakes in which to dip and roll the slices. Oh! It was sweet, sticky heaven for a child! These, I would place haphazardly on the baking tray and watch with growing anticipation as they turned a toasty brown in the oven, filling the air with the sweet comforting aroma of baking. I was only ever allowed to have two and now find myself wondering what happened to the rest.
I have tweaked the original recipe quite a lot. I don’t see the point of using 3/4’s of a cup of condensed milk, leaving behind a less than a quarter cup in the tin. What is to be done with such a small amount, since my son is no longer a toddler and would not have the slightest interest in dipping and rolling stale bread. Ditto the double cream. I stand firmly in the camp of Nigella Lawson on this point, who rather sensibly advocates using up ingredients in the measures in which they come – in as much as it is possible of course. We don’t really do graham crackers in the UK – I always use digestives instead but I quite liked the idea of a ginger biscuit base with lime. If I was making this for a dinner party, I would consider the addition of a layer of dark chocolate between the base and the cream, a delicious must.
I have been working on my photo taking skills – hope you can see an improvement! After a little research I have started using the Snapseed App to gussy up the shots! Let me know what you think.
When buying limes, give them a little squeeze – you want limes which yield a little, not rock hard balls which will have little juice.
This really is chemistry at work in the kitchen – the addition of lime juice to the condensed milk magically thickening the cream with no need to whip at all.
With temperatures set to rise again you may find find yourself very glad to happen upon this the freezer. It is sweet, tart and creamy with a pleasing warmth from the ginger snap biscuit base. I find that the addition of raspberries goes very nicely with a slice.
I’m also taking this over to Love in the Kitchen Tasty Tuesday for their Summer Ice-cream Social
Lime Ice Cream in a Ginger Snap Crust
Adapted from Serious Eats
- 20 ginger biscuits
- 4 digestive biscuits or graham crackers
- 75g butter at room temperature
- 1 Tbsp lime zest which was the zest from 3 limes which were very well washed first.
- 1/2 cup lime juice – in this case it was the juice of 3 juicy limes
- 1 can (397g) of sweetened condensed milk
- 300ml tub of double cream
- A few raspberries to serve – optional
- Preheat oven to 190C/375F
- Prepare your tin (a loose bottomed or springform one is best and if it isn’t non-stick then butter and flour it) I use a 9″/23cm loose bottomed non-stick one and like to put a circle of parchement paper on the base to make it really easy to slide onto a serving plate.
- Tip the biscuits into a food processor and blitz – you don’t want it to be powdery but neither should it be lumpy. Toss in the softened butter and blitz for a few moments until the mix resembles damp clumpy sand.
- Scrape out into the tin and pat the mix gently and evenly up the sides and on the base. Tamp it down gently with the bottom of a glass if you need to but don’t compact it too much. Pop it into the fridge for 15 mins then bake on the middle shelf for 15 minutes. Please check after 10 minutes – there is a lot of sugar in ginger biscuits which burns rather quickly. I found that the edges of the crust had caught but rescued the situation with a little judicious trimming once the shell had cooled. Place in the freezer while you get the filling ready.
- Zest the limes. Then put them on your work surface, lean on them a little and roll them back and forth a few times. This really helps to release the juice. Cut in half and juice them. I use a lovely olive wood reamer that I have had for years and no longer remember where I got it from. Pour the condensed milk and the double cream into a mixing bowl and hand whisk to mix the two together. Add the zest and the lime juice and continue mixing – it magically thickens in a couple of minutes.
- Dollop it into the cold shell, spreading it out with a spatula.
- Freeze for a couple of hours or longer, removing from freezer for 20 mins to 1/2 an hour before you want to eat.
- Dip your knife in hot water and slice, serving with raspberries or just as it is.
If alcohol is added to the mixture, it lowers the freezing point making for a real soft serve ice-cream. If you don’t want to taste the alcohol, use a tablespoon or two of vodka otherwise use tequila. It will only require 10 minutes or so to soften out of the freezer if alcohol is added.
If you want to change the flavour of the biscuit base, lay the whole biscuits of your choice in a layer on the bottom of a tin and then add 2 or 3 more (depending on how big they are) to allow for the sides, before blitzing.
As a variation, try espresso powder and Tia Maria or cocoa powder and Creme de Cacao (instead of the lime zest and juice) and freeze in an appropriate 500ml container. I have made both and they are absolutely delicious. Either would be nice on a chocolate biscuit base or in a cone. Because of the alcohol this will only need 10 minutes or so, out of the freezer, to soften.
Warning -do not buy more than 2 tins of condensed milk at a time as this is just temptation at its very worst!
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