I haven’t always loved gooseberries. Like most young children, I found them horribly sour. It would take all my father’s patience, together with liberal quantities of custard, to ensure that I finished my bowl of gooseberry crumble.
How times and my tastebuds have changed. These days, I can’t get enough of them during their desperately short season. And I’m so frustrated at how few gooseberries ever appear in the shops that I’ve planted my first gooseberry bush in the hope that I’ll have my own crop from next year onwards. This year, I have been able to get hold of just enough – just – to make a couple of desserts.
One of them is this gooseberry and elderflower ice. It’s very simple to make, attractive to look at, and should convert even those who profess to dislike the green hairy berries.
For the ice topping:
Poach a good handful of gooseberries – about half a punnet – in a pan with a generous splash of elderflower cordial. Add more sugar to taste if you feel you need it. Cook until the gooseberries have turned soft. Remove from the heat, and set aside to cool.
For the ice (adapted from Rose Prince’s recipe for cobnut ice):
3 eggs, separated
4 tbsps caster sugar
300 ml double cream
Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar in a large bowl until they have doubled in volume and lightened in colour. Whip the cream in another bowl until it stands in peaks when you remove the whisk. Stir the cream into the yolks and combine thoroughly.
In a spotlessly clean bowl, whisk the eggs whites until stiff, and then fold them into the cream and yolk mixture.
Line a loaf tin (base and sides) with clingfilm so that the clingfilm liberally overhangs the sides. Spoon in your poached gooseberries, and spread them so that they line the entire length of the tin. Then, gently pour or spoon in the ice mixture, and smooth it over. Cover with the clingfilm, and place in the freezer for a minimum of 4 hours.
Poach some more gooseberries – dessert if possible, for the colour contrast – with a little vanilla sugar and water, until soft but not collapsed.
Remove the ice from the freezer, cut and serve immediately – it melts quickly – with the dessert gooseberries and some of the poaching liquor.