PX marks the spot

November 27, 2009

Other brands are available, but make sure the label says PX


 H, it must be admitted, has not posted on this blog for some time. A casual observer might assume that the freezing temperatures of November, following the downpours of late October, meant that she stopped eating ice cream and thus it vanished from her mind.  More astute readers, however, will realise from the level of ice-cream obsession displayed in her earlier posts that this was unlikely.  Indeed, she and V remember fondly their weekend in London last February when they toured several ice cream parlours, but that is for another post.

 The absence of posts has more to do with the absence of V from H’s home; she misses her terribly, and that’s been horrible.  It’s also the case that V is a very good photographer, and H is not, and posts without any photos can be dull, so that’s been another reason for the silence.  But V is due home soon, and will bring her camera with her, so it’s about time H shared some of the ice-cream thoughts she has, of course, been having during the past few months.

 It is true that the change of season does lead to a subtle alteration in ice-cream consumption (though nothing remotely resembling a falling-away).  The flavours of summer – raspberry sorbet, strawberry and balsamic vinegar – still taste delicious, and are a welcome reminder that sunshine will come again.  Other flavours worth mentioning are Speculoos (Haagen-Dazs’ best-ever limited edition) which goes very well with autumnal apple-based hot desserts, and tickety-moo banoffee which sits as well alongside a steamed pudding as it does in a summer cone.

 But what surprised H recently was the vital necessity for the ice cream whose flavour is hard to describe, but which is variously styled “natural dairy”, “plain”, or simply “white”.  This is not – it is really not- vanilla ice cream.  The phrase “plain vanilla” should not be allowed in the lexicon of any true ice-cream lover; real vanilla comes from pods, and has seeds and bits in it, and tastes of vanilla.  It does not taste of “plain”.  Nor am I thinking of the ersatz varieties which might lurk in freezers hidden within ice-lollies, or at the nasty end of the supermarket frozen foods aisle, and which I remember from my childhood as tasting mainly of the cardboard they were wrapped in.  No, I’m thinking more of something like this:

From a traditional producer in Scotland

Mackie's Luxury Dairy Ice Cream


…which does exactly what it says on the, erm, carton.  It is made with fresh milk and double cream – those two ingredients account for 80% of the ice cream, before you even get to “sugar” in the list.  And it tastes of milk, cream and sugar, with a clean flavour that has no artificial aftertaste, as well as having no hint of vanilla, or caramel, or anything else.  This means that it is the perfect ice cream to act as a foil to anything which has a strong flavour of its own, and would even be acceptable to those strange people who reply to waitresses asking “would you like cream or ice-cream with that?” with the former rather than the latter.  I venture to suggest that it might work extremely well with Christmas pudding.

It certainly worked extremely well with the recipe I found in a recent Sunday Telegraph magazine article, giving “an alphabet of recipes” and needing something for X.  To their credit they didn’t go for something like “X-rated chocolate cake” but put the research in and came up with a recipe using PX (Pedro Ximenez) sherry as the star ingredient.  I’ve halved the quantities, because I only had two old drunks alcohol connoisseurs to cater for at the time I made the recipe, and it still lasted us them two days.

Heat 100ml PX sherry in a small saucepan, until hot but not boiling.  Pour this over 50g raisins in a bowl, cover and leave to cool.  Put in fridge for about an hour to let the flavours develop and the raisins become chewy.  Then serve, poured generously over a helping of plain/ natural/ white/ BUT NOT VANILLA ice cream.

As the ice cream melts a little, you may wish to stir the sauce into it some more, to remind yourself of past experiences of rum ‘n’ raisin ice cream while feeling smug at how very much better the taste of this version is.