Tea & biscuit caramel ripple ice cream

Tea & biscuits in an ice cream? Sounds yum…

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It’s a mouthful, but a very delicious mouthful indeed.

A few years ago, in my more obsessed dessert-foodie stage of life, I spent hours upon hours trawling the pages of tastespotting.com for exciting new recipes. I could frequently be found drooling over picture-perfect meringue peaks and oozing chocolate desserts, bookmarking near everything that excited me but with very few recipes actually reimagined in my own kitchen. Except when it came to ice creams. Why ice cream? Perhaps due to its longevity and the fact that you don’t need to worry about eating the whole amount in a few days before it goes off as with other delicious naughty treats. Or maybe it’s because I just love ice cream. Always have done, always will. There are plenty of pictures of me as a toddler with a Mr Whippy, Twister or Fab ice lolly, regardless of the weather. Hard core, oh yeah.

So one day, my virtual travels of the culinary world led me to a rather enticing recipe for tea & biscuit ice cream with a salty caramel swirl (courtesy of the Little Loaf‘s blog page) My curiosity instantly peaked and I just had to try it. To some, it probably sounds disgusting. Not me I – I love tea, and what tea drinker doesn’t love to dunk a McVities Digestive (or other biccy of choice) in a nice cuppa? The recipe had to be tried. Had to. To the kitchen! *Grabs apron superhero-style and bounds round the corner in a puff of icing sugar*

Making this ice cream requires a little patience, as all ice creams do due to the chilling and freezing. But if you’re willing to go the extra mile by making your own caramel too, it’s so worth it. I do every time; it’s not too tricky and less expensive than buying a tub of dulce de leche. Fortunately, the Little Loaf’s author, Kate, leaves a simple recipe at the end of the page which I have turned to time and time again for my caramel needs.

For the ice cream the instructions suggest the use of loose leaf tea, but I steep normal black teabags and the results come out just perfectly. I used 3 PG Tips tea bags for my last batch of ice cream (yes, I’ve made it a fair few times over the years it’s that good!) and they produce a perfectly lovely flavour. So just use whatever tea bags you have, or if you want to splash out on some posher tea – loose leaf or bags – for a higher quality brew, then by all means go ahead and experiment. The tea-custard base is just the right level of sweet to balance the tea’s tannins.

Once the base is cooled and churned to semi-frozen (or arduously frozen by hand – you need have the patience of a saint to do it that way) and ready for the freezer, it’s time to layer up. I would suggest to just use your judgement as to how much caramel and crushed biscuits you add, but I’d say I use about 4-5 tablespoons of caramel and no more than 5-6 crushed Digestives is about right. Make sure your caramel is room temp at least or heated slightly in order to get some good streaks and globs of caramel running through your mix. It’s also good not to pulverise your biscuits completely and leave a few good chunks as a nice textural contrast to all the other smoothness going on. Leave to set for a few hours or overnight, then indulge….

The gorgeous swirl of caramel adds a nice toffee richness to the delicate tea ice cream, while the Digestives add a delicious crunch. For me, this recipe is hands down a winner, and I’ll bet that even non tea-drinkers would like it! You could mix up the biscuits for Hobnobs to add a lovely buttery oatiness, or perhaps some Amaretti biscuits for an almondy Italian twist. The ice cream world is your oyster! Hmmm, a scoop in one of those oyster wafer shells would be interesting too….

If you love your ice cream and enjoy a bit of sweet experimentation, then I highly recommend giving the Little Loaf’s recipe a go. It’s a winner for me and I’ll keep coming back to it for years to come.

I’d say this recipe gets a glass of smooth dessert wine, or perhaps a decent measure of good French Armagnac brandy as an alcoholic ‘thumbs up’ from me. Cheers!