While I’ve not quite reached the age where I’m ready for children, I often wonder what it will be like to have them around: how I’ll bring them up, how their personalities will develop and, importantly, what I’ll feed them.
I want my children to understand where food comes from, how important it is, to realise that meat doesn’t just arrive pre-packaged and devoid of all fat and sinew and that the investment of just an hour or so a week can produce better bread than you could ever buy pre-sliced and stacked sky high on the supermarket shelves.
Having been a pretty fussy eater as a littler loaf, I imagine that my children may take some persuasion with certain foods. Unless they inherit their father’s omnivorous approach to anything edible, they may need a little coaxing to try some of more weird and wonderful flavours that are now a part of my everyday eating life.
I’ll also need to be careful about how much sugar they consume, reigning in my sweet tooth (ok, teeth, there’s definitely more than one hiding away in there) until they are a little older in order that they have the best start in life – no rotten teeth, hyperactive behaviour, early onset diabetes . . .
Ok, so I’m being a little alarmist, but I do want to make sure my kids’ palates aren’t completely deadened by the onslaught of sugar from an early age. When we were growing up I remember one of my favourite tea-time treats being ice lollies made with our Mum. Consisting of nothing more than a little orange juice or homemade lemon squash frozen in a simple plastic receptacle, they were sticky, sweet and delicious: the taste of summer. No cream or chocolate or copious amounts of sugar, just good, old fashioned fruity flavour.
Don’t worry. I’ve said above that those children don’t yet exist, so this post is still an unashamedly indulgent exercise in sugar, chocolate and cream. But it does take one lesson from those early childhood experiences: the excitement of eating anything on a stick. Having bought some little silicone Magnum-style moulds online (a big thank you to Zita for your advice on Twitter!), it filled me with pure childish joy to fill them up with ice cream, wait for them to freeze then carefully remove, cover in chocolate and slowly lick from the stick.
If you don’t have ice cream bar moulds, you could freeze this ice cream as a block then slice into bars. I’ve done this before with my homemade Snickers ice creams and, while it’s a little messy, the results are still delicious. For the coating, I’d originally intended to make them all with white chocolate, but devoid of cocoa solids and high in fat it can be a slightly tricky ingredient and, after my first batch seized when melting, I was left with only enough to cover half the bars. Dark chocolate is almost as delicious, but if you’re looking for a true summer strawberries and cream-type flavour, I’d suggest persevering with the white. It can be done.
I included toasted pistachios for crunch against the creamy chocolate and ice cream, inspired by the flavours in this lovely post. Stirring them through the melted chocolate results in a more even finish, but it also looks lovely if you scatter the bright green shards over the top – I tried both as you’ll see from the photos, but it’s absolutely your call.
So here they are, my very first attempt at ice cream on a stick. Creamy and chocolaty with the crunch of nuts, these summery bars are enough to satisfy the sweetest of teeth. Just keep them out the way of any children – for them it’s ice lollies all round.
Strawberry, Chocolate & Pistachio Ice Cream Bars
Makes approx. 8 bars
For the strawberry ice cream (adapted from this Ben Vear recipe)
300g strawberries, hulled
Juice of 1/4 of a lemon
1 large free-range egg
150g caster sugar
180ml double cream (I used goat’s cream but normal is fine)
120ml full fat milk
In a Magimix or blender, whizz the strawberries and lemon juice until liquid and smooth.
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the egg and sugar until pale and smooth.
In a saucepan, combine milk and cream and bring to a simmer, taking care not to burn it. Pour this hot milk and cream over the egg mixture, whisking constantly, then stir in the strawberry purée. Continue to whisk over an ice bath until cool, then leave to chill in the fridge overnight.
Churn the ice cream according to your manufacturer’s instructions, then transfer into 8 silicone ice cream bar moulds and freeze until solid (at least four hours, preferably overnight). Alternatively you could freeze in a square container, then cut into bars once solid and continue with the recipe below.
For the chocolate & pistachio coating
75g pistachios, toasted and chopped
340g good quality dark chocolate (if using white, reduce the amount of butter by 70g*)
170g unsalted butter, cubed
3 tbsp corn or glucose syrup
Melt the chocolate, butter and corn or glucose syrup in a bain marie over a low heat until melted and smooth. Stir in the chopped toasted pistachios and set aside to cool slightly.
When ready to dip your ice creams, line a tray with baking parchment and place it in the freezer. Remove the ice cream bars from the freezer one at a time and dip carefully in the chocolate mixture, returning to the prepared baking parchment as quickly as possible. The chocolate will set pretty quickly, so you should be able to eat them within 30 minutes or so.
*This is my recommendation, although you’ll see from the photos that I’ve not quite perfected my white chocolate coating recipe yet – it was a little too thick for my liking.