Cold Comfort Ice Cream: Creative Ice Cream Recipes from Snowy New England

Plum & Armagnac Ice Cream

Posted on: September 13, 2009

Plum 6

Pretty little plums!



Or rather, Plum and Cognac Ice Cream for me.  I got the inspiration for this recipe from an absolutely tempting looking Plum-Armagnac Galette in the September issue of Cooking Light magazine. Relying on my deeply held principles that any dessert can be successfully converted to an ice cream, I resolved to create an ice cream that would marry the classic flavors of brandy and sweet-tart, ripe,  fall harvest plums.

When I arrived at the liquor store however, I discovered that my plans would have to make a slight detour. Though my vision originally called for Armangnac, my wallet brought my feet quickly to the ground at over $50 a bottle. So because I am an aspiring pastry chef, and not a professional one, I decided on a lovely little nip of Cognac instead for a much more economical price of $1.  The lesson learned is that feel free to substitute almost any kind of brandy here for the Armagnac, and if you do happen to be a famous and wealthy pastry chef you might just want to spring for the real thing.



Plum 2

Brandied Plum Jam



One thing that can be tricky when working with fruit based ice creams is that they have a tendency to go icy. Fruit is basically full of water, which if simply pureed can lead to an inferior ice cream texture.  I think I’ve found one way of solving that problem by making a quick skillet fruit jam which extracts most of the water from the fruit and also adds a rich, ripened fruit flavor to the ice cream base. I also include a small amount of pureed fresh fruit right before churning for a bit of brightness.


Delicious, easy and adaptable.

Delicious, easy and adaptable.

Most people are somewhat intimidated by the prospect of making jam.  All of that canning and jarring process sort of scared me off until I discovered these quick skillet jams. With just a few ingredients you can turn almost any type of fruit into a yummy (and in this case plummy) jam.  Sure it won’t keep as long, but it’ll last a few weeks in the fridge and that’s plenty of time to turn them into a luscious and flavorful ice cream of gelato.
Brown sugar base.

Brown sugar base.


As a last minute touch, I decided to whisk brown sugar into the egg yolks instead of the usual white cane sugar.  You could make the ice cream either way, but I think the bit of brown sugar brought out some of the caramel notes in the jam.


The freshly churned ice cream.

The freshly churned ice cream.


As for the finished product…. Well what can I say, it was plumb awesome!  Sorry, I just couldn’t resist. It turned out to be a delicious flavor that’s perfectly suited to autumn. The cognac, plum and hint of brown sugar combined to create a flavor with complexity that mirrors the classic French combination. Honestly, I seriously thinking about making the galette now. And if I do, I can definitely think of the perfect ice cream to make it al a mode.



Prepared Plum Jam (recipe follows)

1 cup chopped fresh plums

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup whole milk

1/4 cup white or brown sugar

3  large egg yolks

pinch of salt

1-3 tablespoons Armangnac or Cognac, to taste


1.)    Place plum jam and fresh plums in food processor. Pulse until blended. If desired, strain mixture through a sieve to get rid of plum skin (I didn’t, but I like texture in my ice cream).


2.)    Combine milk and heavy cream in a medium saucepan and set over medium heat. Heat until bubbles appear near the rim of the saucepan and steam begins to rinse, but do not let it boil.


3.)    Meanwhile whisk the egg yolks together in a large bowl and gradually add the sugar. Whisk the mixture until the yolks look fluffy and turn a pale yellow color.


4.)    All the while whisking the egg yolk mixture, slowly and gradually add milk mixture and when fully emulsified, pour the mixture back into the medium saucepan. Over low heat constantly mix the base with a spatula or wooden spoon until it thickens slightly and can coat the back of a wooden spoon, about 6 minutes.


5.)    Immediately remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl. Add the pinch of salt and brandy and refrigerate 4 hours to overnight. Freeze according to your ice cream machine’s instructions. Enjoy!


Make it a sundae!

 Although it might seem a bit unconventional, in Italy and other European countries chocolate and Armangnac are often paired together with delicious results. Try adding a dark chocolate hot fudge sauce and whipped cream. Another option would be a raspberry sauce which partners beautifully with plums.

 The lighter side

Feel to substitute whole milk or half and half for heavy cream in this recipe. If anything it will only make the flavors more intense, which is the reason gelati is often made this way in Italy.

 Plum Jam



                     4  cups sliced plums

                  1/2  cup  sugar

                    3 tablespoons brandy or other liquor


Combine plums, sugar, and 3 tablespoons brandy in a heavy Dutch oven; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer until reduced to 1 1/2 cups (about 30-40 minutes), stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Spoon into a container; cool to room temperature. Cover and chill.


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