DID YOU KNOW? Ice cream melts. The recommended storage temperature of this frozen treat is around -20° and is best served straight from the freezer. If left at room temperature for more than a few moments it will return to its liquid state. SCIENCE.
I’ve recently been reading The Food Stylist’s Handbook and, amongst the pages of wonderful lies of tall burgers hinged on unseen scaffolding and hidden blow-torches and paint brushes behind closed sets, lies this sentence:
“… fake ice cream is basically just powdered sugar and a solid fat of some sort… some stylists add corn syrup… your [fake] ice cream should have the texture of pastry dough of Play-Doh.”
Cream at Sassafras very kindly sent a jar of saffron + pear figlettes to play with, little did I know developing an ice cream recipe in conjunction with these little gems would send me into a melty spiral questioning the integrity of ice cream photography.
Here’s a thing some people don’t realise when gazing into a publication; when taking food photos the reality is ice cream melts. My personal reality is; I have no assistance and am often balancing on one leg to both take a photo and manoeuvre a reflector. My reality is; I have an incredibly small space to work with and even smaller backgrounds and surfaces. My reality is; by the time I stage the shoot, scoop the ice cream, position it properly, drizzle some syrup, clean my sticky hands and resume position behind the camera quick-as-a-flash (hehe pun) everything has already begun to topple. The texture of commercial ice cream we are so used to is lost in a matter of seconds; time is the nemesis of those who work alone, at least in this instance.
While I’m at it here’s absolutely everything there is to tell about these photos. The background is the back of a couch in the living room, the table is (I believe) an IKEA Lak I bought for $2 from The Bower; originally an offensive orange I painted it white but since the paint has begun to peel I’ve intentionally scratched it up for more character. I don’t have a macro lens; these were taken on my 85mm meaning I had to take a fair few steps back which, in turn, meant capturing areas outside of the table and background (couch). I wanted to keep my camera at f/2.8 (ish) for a bokeh explosion of shimmering pewter in the background however working with lights in a small space means they couldn’t be pushed back any further. The ice cream is sitting in what I can only describe as rusty canisters or filters I bought from Reverse Garbage ($1 for 10 of them as I remember), as were the pieces of fabric. The utensils in the background were purchased as part of my display at the COFA Annual late last year and that stein has been perched, untouched, on my coffee table in my bedroom ever since.
So, I became fed up with what ice cream should look like in the real world since I don’t operate in a real studio and decided to keep it as honest as possible. I stacked it high and watched it burn (melt) to the ground (restored IKEA table) and enjoyed it for a perverse thirty seconds. Hahahahaaa! I’m so zany I just don’t know what to do with myself. Some people rage at photoshopped images of women in magazines while I’m raging at faked ice cream.
Onto the recipe itself; the goat curd ice cream is a little different but great, probably not to everybody’s taste especially if they’re not into goats cheese. Don’t serve it by the bowlfull but instead as a course inbetweener or generous taster. It works perfectly with the figlettes and its syrup, though they’re definitely not essential. It’s not entirely sweet; just resounding flavours of goaty cheese and honey. It probably even warrants a quinelle. Whack it beside a soufflé and bask in the fanciness of it all.
Goat Curd + Honey Ice Cream
(an original recipe)
200g fresh goat curd (I used Meredith Dairy)
3 egg yolks
60ml (1/4 cup) honey
Tsp of salt
1 tbs sugar
1 vanilla bean
Jar of figlettes (optional)
1. Combine cream with goats curd until lumps are removed. In another bowl beat egg yolk with sugar.
2. In a saucepan heat milk, honey and split vanilla bean over low-medium heat until hot. Stir into egg yolk mixture slowly to temper then return to heat for a few minutes, whisking constantly until it begins to thicken like a custard.
3. Strain mixture into cream and goats curd mixture and stir well until combined. Place in fridge to chill and later churn as per your ice cream maker’s instructions. Serve with figlettes if you have any handy.
See the mess this stuff makes?! The concept of imperfection-as-perfection is far from revolutionary but goshdarnit melted ice cream is cool as heck. Cool and real.
And speaking of keeping it real, thanks again to Esme, Mark and Laura at Cream for the figlettes and please check out their online store or in person if you’re around the Dandenong area. My brief soap box moment of the day: supporting small businesses is very, very important; if you’re not already on that bandwagon get on it immediately, please!