he ate through
one piece of
chocolate cake, one ice-cream cone, one pickle, one slice of Swiss cheese, one slice of salami, one lollipop, one piece of cherry pie, one sausage, one cupcake, and one slice of watermelon.
That night he had a stomachache!
The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle
The Very Hungry Caterpillar is the foodie book to end all foodie books... kind of. It doesn't have quite the same gastronomic magic as Like Water for Chocolate, Babette's Feastor Chocolat(we'll be coming/returning to these soon), but my goodness does that caterpillar eat well! Saturday is a great day for him - I'm a big fan of pickles, cheese and salami, and would certainly enjoy the chocolate cake, cherry pie and watermelon. What a feast!
...one chocolate cake, one ice-cream cone, one pickle...
For my money, though, it's all about the ice-cream cone. We haven't had much of a summer here in London this year, but I have found excuses to eat ice-cream - regularly - since the first sun peeked through the clouds in April (and, to be honest, it's not unheard of to find me shivering, in a coat, with an ice-cream cone in one gloved hand, in the dead of winter). Happily, since purchasing an ice-cream maker a month or so ago, I haven't been without some fruity/honeycomby/chocolatey-goodness in the freezer. However, regardless of how lovely homemade ice-cream is, eating it out of a bowl just isn't the same as wandering around in the sun with ice-cream dripping from a cone down to your wrist. Luckily, our caterpillar was clever enough to enjoy his ice-cream in a cone - so I had to as well. The cones take a little practice to get right (the first-pancake-fail principle definitely applies here), but are well worth it once you do.
ps. When I made the strawberry ice-cream for this post, I was immediately taken back to the Ekka ice-creams of my childhood. The tiny flat-bottomed cones, filled with fresh strawberries, ice-cream and cream probably taste far better in my memory than they do in real life. Can any Brisbane friends confirm or deny this assumption?
Strawberry Ice-Cream Cones
Makes enough for eight cones, with ice-cream left over
500g fresh strawberries
2tbsp vanilla sugar (caster sugar stored in a jar with a vanilla pod)
150g caster sugar
500mL double cream
1 vanilla pod
10 egg yolks
1tbsp lemon juice
50g butter, plus extra for the pan
2 egg whites (conveniently, you will have these - and many more - leftover after making your ice-cream; you can freeze the others for use at a later date)
90g icing sugar
4tbsp gluten-free flour
1/2tsp vanilla Pinch salt
Chopping board and knife
Ice-cream maker (or electric hand whisk)
Plastic container (around 2L)
50cm piece of aluminium foil, squashed and fashioned into a cone shape that is slightly longer than your saucepan is wide (make sure it tapers into a very sharp point at the end)
Small frying pan
1. Hull and chop the strawberries, and place in the bowl with the vanilla sugar. Stir through and leave to sit. Place the milk and cream into the saucepan with the split vanilla pod, and bring almost to the boil. Take off the heat and leave to infuse for half an hour.
2. Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until pale yellow and thick. Pour the milk and cream through a sieve and onto the yolk mixture, whisking continuously. Wash the saucepan and pour the mixture back into it, then place over a low heat. Stir with the wooden spoon until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon, then remove from the heat. Pour into a bowl, cover with cling film (push it down so that it touches the skin of the custard to prevent a skin forming) and allow it to cool.
3. Use the potato masher to squash the strawberries until pureed, then squeeze in the lemon juice. Stir the strawberries through the cooled custard. The strawberries will turn the custard the most gorgeous shade of pink.
4. Pour the strawberry custard into the ice-cream maker, and churn until soft set, before transferring to the freezer for a couple of hours. Alternatively, without an ice-cream maker, place the custard in the container and transfer to the freezer, removing it every half hour or so, for around three hours, to beat it with the electric hand whisk. Finally, freeze for a final couple of hours.
5. Once the ice-cream is ready to eat, you can start making the cones. Melt the butter in the saucepan over a low heat, and leave to cool slightly. In the jug, whisk the egg whites until foamy, then add the milk. Sieve the flour and icing sugar into the egg mixture and beat them in. Finally, mix in the melted butter and salt. It should now be about the consistency of single cream. Leave the batter to rest for fifteen minutes. At this point, take the ice-cream out of the freezer and allow it to soften.
6. Heat the frying pan over a medium heat, and melt a little butter in the pan. Once the butter is hot, pour about 2tbsp of the batter into the pan, and swirl quickly so that the base is covered. If the mixture doesn't swirl quickly enough, you can also use the back of a large spoon to push it to the edges of the pan.
7. Cook for around 1-2 minutes, until the top is set and the bottom is lightly browned in patches. Flip the cone and allow the other side to brown for a minute. Remove the cone from the pan.
8. After around 15 seconds (or as quickly as you can stand to touch the hot cone), place the cone mould about 5mm from the edge, and roll the cone around it, bringing the point together at the end, and crossing the sides over tightly. Leave the cone on the mould for a couple of minutes until it hardens. Remove the mould and allow the cone to cool.
9. Repeat with the rest of the batter, fill the cones with ice-cream and serve. Eat outside, with the ice-cream dripping down your wrist.