Back in the days before pop corn became a staple fare of cinema or movie-theatre goers, we enjoyed feasting on simpler snacks sold by street hawkers just outside, yes.. not inside, the cinemas. Snacks such as steaming hot chick peas (garbanzo) and sweet corn kernels, skewered Chinese/Asian pears pickled in brine, and sliced guavas sprinkled generously with dried prune powder. These street snacks still exist today, of course, but they are no longer consumed within the walls of a cinema. More likely, we'll buy them at the night market and snack all the way home, or else have the crisp fruits while strolling back to the office after lunch on a hot day.
Before I go on further, I just wanted to mention that I finally got myself an ice cream machine while on a short trip abroad. I lugged the heavy thing in my suitcase and prayed that it would not break and oh yes, for sunny skies too (it's been raining buckets here lately). Even though sniffles, coughs and sore throats still exist in parts of the house, I foresee many smiley, ice cream days ahead :-).
For my first ice cream adventure with the coveted machine, I wanted to recreate the flavors of one of our street snacks, guava dipped in prune powder. I didn't want to mess around with a custard base, so I settled for mascarpone to hold the flavors together and the mascarpone somehow made the texture of the ice cream that much better. Because fresh guava is so crisp, I had to cook it first to soften the flesh, otherwise it would just turn into rock-hard guava pieces likely to break your tooth once frozen. I blended most of the cooked guava to make the ice cream, but reserved some to add into the semi frozen mixture (right after churning) to retain some of that fruitiness.
The salty-sweet prune powder complemented and enhanced the guava ice cream well. To round off the dessert, I decided to make honeycomb shards for a topping and flavored this with prune powder. It was fun and ultra easy to make... all that whooshing, bubbling up reminded me of my days in the lab when things got really exciting, or out-of-hand, or both. LOL. Naturally, most kids love all this honeycomb stuff (remember Crunchie?) but just don't overdo it or the dentist will come after you with a massive drill!
To my friends KJ and Layloo, both new moms and guava and prune powder addicts, this recipe is totally for you!
Guava and Prune Mascarpone Ice Cream with Honeycomb Topping
Makes: 3/4 litre
250g fresh guava, peeled, cored and sliced into tiny chunks
50g sweetened prune powder
50g caster sugar
1/4 cup water
1. Place guava chunks, prune powder, sugar and water in a deep pan and let it boil on medium heat for 5-10 minutes, stirring constantly until the guava turns soft and slightly mushy (similar to the texture of cooked apples). With a slotted spoon, scoop out 1/3 cup of cooked guava and set aside. You can chop these finer if you wish, as they will be incorporated later into the soft ice cream.
2. Add milk to the remaining mixture in the pan, let it cool slightly then blend in a food processor or blender until smooth.
3. Pour blended mixture into a bowl and whisk in the mascarpone until just combined. Pour into an ice cream machine and churn according to manufacturer's instructions.
4. Stir the reserved guava above back into the soft frozen mixture before placing it in an airtight container. Leave in the freezer to freeze for at least 4 hours or overnight. Serve with prune honeycomb topping sprinkled on top.
Prune Honeycomb Topping
100g caster sugar
1 tablespoon prune powder
4 tablespoons golden syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
1. Put the sugar, prune powder and golden syrup into a deep cooking pan and stir to mix.
2. Place the pan on the heat and let the mixture melt, then turn into to a bubbling mass the colour of maple syrup - about 3 minutes.
3. Turn off the heat, whisk in the bicarbonate of soda and the syrup will bubble up instantly into a big, fine cloud of aerated pale gold. Turn this immediately onto a piece of reusable baking parchment or greased foil.
4. Leave it to set at room temperature and then bash it with a meat beater or something solid, so that it splinters into many pieces. Sprinkle on top of ice creams or cakes and store the rest in an airtight container for up to 3 days.