Honeycomb Ice Cream!

Its the one you’ve all been waiting for…FINALLY, not only a second ice cream experiment (as promised in my first ever post) but the big reveal of the last bake in the Great Friday Bake-Fest! Tah-dah! I realise that in my ‘Really minty mint choc chip ice cream’ post I hinted that the next flavour in the ice cream department would be ginger, but after shopping around and discovering just how expensive stem ginger in syrup seems to be, I decided I might put that one off until the old student loan comes in. Ginger is one of my favourite flavours in baking, and I had a fantastic ginger ice cream on holiday in France this summer, so if our heating decides to start working and the mere idea of eating ice cream stops making me shiver, look out for that.

You’d think that after roughly six hours in the kitchen baking, I would fancy a bit of a break, but no – I didn’t want to stop! Once the edible gifts for the family were done, I rounded up the day by making use of an ingredient I had originally planned to incorporate into the brownies – honeycomb. I couldn’t find any recipes for ‘honeycomb brownies’, but I did think they’d add a lovely crunchy texture and complement the chocolate. However, I did have qualms about the wetness of the brownie mixture, in that I thought it might just dissolve the honeycomb whilst baking in the oven. So I turned to the more conventional white chocolate chunks for the brownies, and the honeycomb met its frozen fate that evening.

It hadn’t even occurred to me that it might be possible to make your own honeycomb at home, until I came across a recipe for it on one of the food blogs I follow (I’ll cite this as a source for the recipe and also might pop in some links to blogs I like for other foodies out there – they’re much more established and professional than mine, and generally a joy to read!). Its actually very simple, and feels a bit like  when you got to do blowing-things-up practicals in science at school as the bicarbonate of soda is added. So, firstly, the recipe and method for making honeycomb, adapted very slightly from the original. Get your goggles on!*

*You don’t actually need protective safety equipment for this bake – the hot sugar is dangerous so please use oven gloves and take care when handling it – but unlike in science class there’s nothing explosive here.

Two things to be aware of as you’re making the honeycomb: Don’t boil your honeycomb past the deep amber stage, as it can turn from lovely and golden to dark and burnt in seconds. This is what happened to my first batch, and like overcooked toffee or caramel, it tastes bitter and quite unpleasant. Also, don’t overwhisk. When the bicarbonate of soda is added, the mixture will froth up immediately and in a big way. Don’t panic, but do try and whip up the mixture as fast as possible so that there aren’t big lumps of bicarb left, but you don’t deflate all the bubbles created by adding it. Sifting the powder into a small bowl beforehand helps.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp good quality (with a nice flavour because this will come through in the honeycomb) runny honey
  • 3 tbsp golden syrup
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 heaped tsp bicarbonate of soda

Step 1: Line a baking tray (preferably with sides at least a couple of centimeters high, otherwise you’ll have to take extra care when pouring out the mixture) with baking paper.

Step 2: In a high-sided saucepan (this is necessary for when it gets frothy, trust me), melt the sugar, golden syrup and honey together over a low heat. Once all the sugar has dissolved you won’t be able to feel any grainy-ness on the bottom of the pan with your spoon. Now turn the heat up and bring to the boil.

Step 3: Boil the sugar, honey and syrup until the mixture turns a deep amber colour – the colour of honeycomb you buy in the shops, basically. AS SOON AS it reaches this point, tip in your bicarb of soda and very quickly whisk to combine. Then pour out onto the baking tray to make a sheet of honeycomb. This will set fairly quickly, which is why you shouldn’t hang about after adding the bicarb.

Step 4: After about an hour and a half, two hours at the most, your honeycomb should be set and ready to bash up into bite-size pieces. Coat in chocolate, crush and sprinkle over desserts, or even add to ice cream…It will get chewier and stickier the longer you leave it out in the air – this needs to be either used (in whatever form) on the same day you make it or kept in an airtight tupperware box. Once coated in chocolate it will last longer as this stops the air getting to it.

Brilliant, so now you’ve made the honeycomb, you can leave it to set whilst you make the ice cream. Its very similar to the mint choc chip, so if you’ve made that one already it’ll be a piece of cake.

Ingredients:

  • 300ml double cream
  • 300ml milk (whole if you’re feeling decadent)
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 vanilla pod with seeds scraped out, or 1 tsp vanilla extract

Step 1: Whisk the sugar and yolks (and vanilla extract, if using) together in a bowl. Pour the milk and cream into a pan (add the vanilla seeds and pod, if using) and heat to just below boiling point. You can tell when this is as the surface of the mixture will just start to froth and roil.

Step 2: Pour the milk and cream slowly into the yolks and sugar (remove the vanilla pod from the pan before you combine them, if using) and whisk well. Pour the custard mixture into the pan.

Step 3: Stir the mixture constantly over a low heat, until it has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon. Cool before pouring into a chilled container, and freezing for 1 hour.

Step 4: After an hour, take out the ice cream and stir well to dislodge all the ice crystals that will have built up. Fold in the honeycomb (about 100g for this amount of ice cream) and put back in the freezer til set.

I really like the flavour and texture of this ice cream; the honeycomb is obviously affected by the liquid in the mixture, but it turns gooey and ripples through the ice cream which I think makes it taste and look fantastic. I will note that this ice cream was a little icier than the mint – that sounds daft I know, but I think it was to do with the amount of crystals that formed in the ice cream before stirring, so don’t leave it too long before checking and adding the honeycomb. Otherwise, delicious!

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Sources: The Little Loaf, ‘Real Homemade Honeycomb’ and BBC Good Food, ‘Honeycomb ice cream’. Thank you to The Little Loaf blog for inspiration!

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Homemade really minty mint choc chip ice cream

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I don’t know about the rest of Britain, but I know I definitely feel like summer has drawn to a close in the last few days – it rained all day today, I’m wearing my furry bodywarmer inside the house, and am starting to crave soups, casseroles, pies or similar for dinner rather than salad. All of this means it is definitely not ice cream weather…but I made my first homemade ice cream last night, and am only just getting started! My main incentive was using up leftover egg yolks I had from attempting meringue (will save that story for another post) and I chose mint choc chip simply because it is the best ice cream flavour, no question. There were a surprising number of heating stages involved, slightly counter-intuitive when making a frozen dessert, but the final result was absolutely worth all the steps and a million times cheaper than shop-bought ice cream. Ginger is the next flavour in the pipeline…watch this space! 

Here is the recipe I used for my ice cream, very simple, really easy – don’t be put off at all if you don’t own an ice cream maker; I don’t!

  • 70g dark chocolate
  • 200ml full-fat milk (I used semi-skimmed and it turned out fine)
  • 150ml double cream (Elmlea is a good cheap substitute with less saturated fats)
  • 1/2 vanilla pod
  • 35g (ish) fresh mint leaves, with stalks
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 70g caster sugar

Step 1: Heat the milk and cream in a pan with the vanilla pod (split it down the middle and scrape the seeds out then put the pod in too) til almost boiling. Add the mint leaves, put a lid on and simmer for 15 minutes.

Step 2: Strain the mixture through a sieve – press down on the mint leaves to get as much flavour as you can out of them – and throw away the vanilla pod and mint. Pour the minty creamy mix into a clean pan (just rinse the one you’ve been using) and pop back on the hob until it is almost boiling again.

Step 3: Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a large bowl until thick and pale. Pour half of the hot cream into the yolks and sugar, whisk til combined thoroughly, then add the rest and whisk again. 

Step 4: Rinse out your pan and put the combined cream, milk, eggs and sugar (basically a custard now) back into the pan and on a low heat for a few minutes to slightly thicken. STIR IT ALL THE TIME! I missed this instruction at first and nothing bad came of it, but here it is in caps so you don’t miss it too. 

Step 5: Pour into a chilled container (I put my tupperware in the freezer beforehand, it cools very quickly) and pop into the freezer. Simples! After 2-3 hours, your ice cream will need churning – ice crystals will form at the sides of the tub, so give it a good mix. This is also when you add in your chocolate chips; you can use actual chocolate chips, or smashed up dark chocolate (this is easiest to do if you freeze the chocolate for about half an hour before putting it into a plastic bag and bashing it with a rolling pin – loads of fun!).

Serve in a cone, in a bowl, with all sorts of cakes or hot desserts…or on the queen of biscuits – the dark chocolate digestives, as I have in the picture. Yum. These measurements make enough ice cream to give 2-3 people a couple of modest scoops. Be warned, don’t expect commercial mint flavour or the pale green colour from this ice cream – it’s homemade and therefore au natural!

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Recipe Source: BBC Good Food