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Strawberry Ice Cream

Asked by Surbhi. Answered on 7th April 2013

Full question

Hi! Yesterday I made the Strawberry Ice Cream from Nigella's book- Forever Summer. Since I didn't have a vanilla pod, I ended up putting a capful of vanilla essence. Though I followed the recipe to the "T", the end result has a very strong eggy after taste, and not delectible at all! The vanilla taste is also noticeable. What did I do wrong? Thanks! Love, Surbhi, India

Our answer

Nigella's Strawberry Ice Cream is a fairly classic ice cream based on an egg custard. The custard is quite rich, it uses 10 egg yolks, but this is necessary to ensure a smooth texture once the ice cream has been churned and frozen.

We suspect that the strong vanilla taste comes from using vanilla essence. Vanilla essence is a chemical/synthetic vanilla flavouring and when using it you do need to be careful as it can be quite strong and also many people find that the taste can be a little odd when compared with natural flavourings. If you don't have a vanilla pod then we suggest using vanilla extract instead - this is a natural product made by steeping vanilla pods in a flavourless liquid (usually a mild alcohol).

The "eggy" taste is not something we have come across before and we suspect that the custard base was slightly overcooked. When this happens the taste of eggs will become more pronounced. With egg custards you need to be a little patient and use a very low heat while they thicken (if you have a sugar thermometer or an instant read thermometer then this should be between 70c and 76c) and they easily overcook and start to curdle. The custard should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon and hold a line when you draw your finger through the custard on the back of the spoon. If it is overcooked you will see very tiny flecks of cooked egg in the custard. If you make the custard again then use a low heat, stir constantly and have a sinkful of cold water ready to dip the base of the saucepan into (to cool the base down quickly) if it looks as if the custard is at risk of overcooking.

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