Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Cookbook Challenge - Week 1 - Citrus - No-Churn Lemon & Mascarpone Icecream

Rilsta from My Food Trail, Kat from spatulaspoonandsaturday, Iron Chef Shellie and Agnes from offthespork created The Cookbook Challenge. The idea is to create something each week over 52 weeks, from a set theme, using one of your cookbooks. It appears I may not be the only one who gets accused of never using the cookbooks I have and therefore not needing new ones (I don't know who comes up with this sort of nonsense - you can never have too many cookbooks).

It's been 30-40 degrees in Melbourne all week, so I thought icecream would be a nice treat, but I don't have an icecream maker. Along comes Valli, not only with a no-churn icecream recipe, but lemon & mascarpone icecream - perfect for this week's citrus theme! Is it cheating if I found this recipe on Taste but cooked it from the magazine?

Yes, I have Delicious magazines from 2005, and earlier.

I should have made this last weekend, as today it's not even supposed to reach 25 degrees, and has just started raining as I'm publishing this post. Oh well. Anytime is icecream time right?

The book you can see behind Valli (below) "Microwaving for 1 or 2 the Australian Way" by Sheryl Brownlee also made a guest appearance in the creation of this icecream. Originally published in 1987 it must have been popular as I have a reprint version from 1990, and it is part of a series which includes "Microwaving Main Meals and Desserts" and "Microwaving Vegetables the Australian Way" (first published as "Microwaving Vegetables the New Zealand Way" according to the National Library of Australia - I'm not sure how our methods would differ, culturally).

This book was f
ound in an op-shop by my mother when I left home, and obviously she expected most of my cooking to involve only a microwave, and no crowds. While she was probably right, this book contains some interesting, simple recipes to do in the microwave like Nanna's special curry mix - old school style with sultanas, curry powder and apricot jam although, sadly, that's not featuring today, this book is still useful even though my skills have advanced somewhat. I pulled it out for the crispy meringues and basic lemon honey recipes to incorporate into the icecream.

Microwave Lemon Curd (Basic Lemon Honey)
from Microwaving for 1 or 2 the Australian Way. Cooking times and temps adjusted for a 1200w microwave - the book uses a 650w. Makes 3 cups.

Combine 2-3 lemons, rind and juice (I used 4, I like it lemony), 250g sugar, 100g butter and microwave on medium (50%) for 3 minutes until the butter melts.

Hmmm, that seems like a lot of cornflour - I wonder if this will work?

Beat 2 eggs, 1 cup water and 2 tablespoons of cornflour in a separate bowl, then pour into the butter/lemon mixture and mix well. Microwave on medium for 3 minutes, stir, then microwave for a further 5 minutes.

Phase 1 complete.

Crunchy Meringues from Microwaving for 1 or 2 the Australian Way
All this needs is egg white and icing sugar. I used 2 egg whites, and a bit over 500g icing sugar - and ended up with far too much meringue mix, I used about a quarter of what this produced to make 175g of meringue. Whisk your egg white until it's frothy, but not firm, then mix in 2 tablespoons of icing sugar at a time until the mixture looks like fondant - it may take a while, the book suggests that it will take about 16 tablespoons per egg white. I got impatient and added a bunch at a time, which worked just fine.

Still not ready!

Once your mixture is dry to touch without crumbling, it's time to microwave!

Pinch off grape sized pieces and roll them into balls placing them, about six at a time, around the edge of a microwave safe plate lined with baking paper, I trimmed the paper to fit so that it wouldn't brush up against the sides of the microwave and knock about the meringues. Microwave on medium for 1 minute 45 seconds.

From this....

to this

Phase 2 complete.

This recipe will not give you chewy meringues, but they are very close in texture to the meringue nests you buy in the supermarket, and since that's what the Lemon & Mascarpone Icecream recipe calls for, they're perfect in this instance. If you have heaps left over, like I did, you can wrap the mixture in Gladwrap and keep it in the fridge for a week or so, and just make more meringues as you desire.

And now the icecream. I needed a container larger than the 2 litre container specified because, although
the recipe calls for 1 jar of lemon curd, I used the full 3 cups I made earlier and, like with the curd, I used more than the 2 lemons listed (2 zested, 3 squeezed), plus I stirred through 175g of meringue instead of 100g since some of the comments on the Taste website suggested the meringue isn't noticeable at the suggested quantity. The resulting mixture is delicious by itself without freezing, and would make a great dessert by itself, like a zesty, creamy, cheesecakey Eton Mess. If you can't wait, put half in the freezer to make icecream, and serve the other half straight away, layering with some larger meringue pieces, swirling in some blueberries. Now that's what I wish I'd done. Why didn't I think of that before I put it all in the freezer?

I was tempted to make my own mascarpone, like NotQuiteNigella did, but given I'm also supposed to be studying for exams this weekend, I thought that might be going a bit too far. If you aren't procrastinating like me, you can use purchased lemon curd and meringue nests, and save yourself some time while still impressing family and friends by making your own icecream.

Et voila! Creamy, homemade icecream, that you can't tell wasn't churned. It's gorgeously smooth, and has a strong, but not overpowering, lemon flavour, while the mascarpone gives it a cheesecake-like taste. If you prefer your lemon taste mild, following the recipes' recommendations rather than mine should give you what you're after. I didn't grate the rind in either the icecream or the curd finely enough, so I'll probably wait until I obtain a Microplane zester before making this again.

Week 1 of The Cookbook Challenge down with 3 recipes prepared, 2 books used and icecream to eat! Although, having used my freezer and microwave for this week's challenge hasn't advanced my justification of needing two ovens.

Looking forward to next week's challenge - Indian. Any suggestions?

UPDATE - Check out everyone's posts for Week 1 over at My Food Trail.


  1. Wow, that's so awesome that you made so many recipes! And who knew you could successfully make lemon curd and meringues in the microwave?!

    The icecream looks great too. I always thought you would need an icecream maker to make home made icecream. I wanna try this!

  2. Thanks Rilsta, apart from making the meringues and curd, this was such easy ice-cream. It was my first go at it too, as I thought you needed an ice-cream maker too. I may have set the bar too high for myself though by making so many for the first challenge - don't expect this every week :)

  3. I didn't realise you could make meringues in the microwave. Cool! And your ice cream sounds A-MAZ-ING.

  4. I'm not convinced the microwave meringues are any easier than traditional ones, but it is pretty cool.
    I think the icecream sounds (and tastes) amazing too, yet I can't seem to sell it at home - not even a taste. Oh well, more for me!


Free Hit Counter