“You are reborn with the roses, in every spring.” - Juan Ramón Jiménez from The Selected Writings: Love.
There’s something about returning from the bleak winter that ushers in a need to cook with colour and flavour. Lately, I’ve become drawn towards the use of soft-blush tones in my cooking, with hints of herbs, blossoms and zest. Ice cream has long been my favourite way to incorporate the wealth of inspiration a season has to offer. A stark canvas longing for the stroke of a brush, I could dedicate my life to it and be entirely happy.
The flushed flavours of rhubarb and rose makes for a pleasurable pairing in ice cream. Floral rose is often considered rather overpowering to the palette, especially when used in things sickly-sweet. But when paired with rhubarb and light dairy, its perfumed intensity becomes rounded out against the sharpness of the vegetable and smooth-creamy milk tones. The end result is a well-balanced ice cream with just the right amount of perfume, sweetness and sourness - somewhat similar in taste to a perfectly ripe strawberry plucked straight from the forb.
A hint of gin also goes a far way to compliment too. Enigmatic, herbal and robust, it pairs well against the roseate within.
Rhubarb and Rose Ice Cream
This recipe makes for an incredibly enriched, smooth and velvety ice cream. Depending on the pigment of your rhubarb, you can choose to deepen the colour of the custard with a few drops of natural pink food dye, if desired. You can also omit the gin for an alcohol-free version. Simply replace it with an equal amount of water or lemon juice.
For the rhubarb:
180 g rhubarb, chopped
80 g (1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons gin
Place the rhubarb, sugar and gin in a saucepan set over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring often, until the rhubarb has begun to break down and soften. Remove from the heat. Purée in a food processor or blender until smooth. Set aside until needed.
For the ice cream:
480 ml (2 cups) heavy cream
240 ml (1 cup) whole milk
4 egg yolks
150 g (3/4 cup) granulated sugar
2 teaspoons rose water
A pinch of pink sea salt
A few drops of natural pink food dye, optional
Put the cream and milk in a saucepan set over medium-low heat. Slowly bring the mixture to a light simmer. Meanwhile, whisk the yolks and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until pale and almost doubled in volume, about 3 minutes. Ladle a little of the hot cream into the yolks. Whisk vigorously to combine. Pour this mixture back into the saucepan set on the stove. Continue to cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Do not allow it to come to a boil. Remove from the heat and whisk in the rhubarb purée followed by the rose, salt, and food dye, if using.
Cover and chill overnight until completely cold. The next morning, churn in an ice cream according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The ice cream will be thick and doubled in volume when it’s ready. Scrape into a container and freeze for at least 3 hours before serving.