Imagine a world of ice cream clouds, all fluffy and cold. Maybe a little cherub would float by, handing out spoons. There might even be a waffle cone tree. It’s hard not to imagine this world when your spoon glides through this almost lighter than air frozen treat, so delicately flavored with honey and elderflower syrup.
How does an ice cream get so light? Well, start by whipping the cream to the softest peaks and then refrigerating it a bit. While that’s staying cool, make a meringue… egg whites and sugars turned into the glossiest silk. Then, ever so gently, fold the two airy concoctions together and quickly freeze. All the air whipped into the cream and the meringue gets stuck between all the sugary goodness, keeping it cottony soft even when frozen. I picked up this little trick from the Cardamom and Honey Pistachio Nougat Glacé recipe (p 154) in Kate Zuckerman’s The Sweet Life.
Such a light texture really deserves a delicate flavor. Delicate, but still interesting. I could think of a million flavors that could qualify, but perhaps none quite so ambrosial as the floral-scented Oxfordshire honey paired up with just the tiniest bit of elderflower syrup.
Elderflower is not an easy flavor to describe. It’s so very floral and fresh, it’s practically intoxicating. When I was in London, I tasted an elderflower soft drink and was instantly hooked. I knew I’d be getting some to cook with when I got home. I had a bit of a time finding the concentrate, but finally located some from Tassie Naturals.
The resulting creme tastes faintly of rose and lychee, and is really not to be missed. And just for you, I’ve got extra spoons…
Honey Elderflower Glace
(adapted from The Sweet Life p 154)
1 cup heavy cream
1 T elderflower concentrate
3 egg whites, room temperature
a drop or two of white vinegar
1 T plus 1 t sugar
1/4 cup honey
a pinch of sea salt
Whip the cream and the elderflower syrup to soft peaks. Lightly cover and refrigerate.
The next part requires a bit of coordination and swapping back and forth quickly between two different tasks. It’s not hard, but you will need to make sure that your stove and where you whisk the egg whites aren’t too far apart so you can keep an eye on both.
Whisk the egg whites until they are just foamy, and drop a couple of drops of white vinegar (or a pinch of cream of tartar). Whisk more until you they hold the lines of the whisk. It’s best if you can use a mixer for all of this whisking…
In a heavy bottom saucepan, combine 1 T of sugar, the honey and a pinch of sea salt over high heat. Give a quick stir to incorporate the sugar in the honey. Use a candy thermometer, and bring the sugar mixture to a boil.
While that is heating, continue to whisk the egg whites and sprinkle in 1t of sugar. The whites should start getting glossy.
Check back on the heating sugar mixture. When the temperature reaches 248F, remove from heat. Then, slowly but continuously, pour the hot sugar syrup along the side of the bowl and into the egg whites while mixing on medium-high. Once it’s all in, continue beating until the egg whites return to room temperature, about 5 to 10 minutes. They should be gorgeously glossy, soft and light, and easily hold peaks.
Remove the whipped cream from the fridge. Use a rubber spatula to gently top the whipped cream with the meringue you just made. Then, fold the meringue into the cream by sticking the spatula into the center of the mixture and then carefully pulling it toward the walls of the bowl, folding down, and then turning the bowl 45 degrees before you repeat.
Once the meringue is well mixed in, place in molds or in a large Tupperware, and chill for 4 hours in the freezer.
I found I liked the glacé by itself, but if you want to dress it up a bit, it’s best paired with a very light pastry like phyllo. I tried with some honey and butter soaked wonton wrappers (pictured), but they were really far to thick for such a light treat.