For the Fig Leaf Buttermilk Ice Cream
4 to 5 fresh fig leaves
1 cup/250 ml whole milk
1 cup/200 g sugar
1 cup/250 ml buttermilk
4 oz/114 g cream cheese, cubed at room temperature
For the Spiced Pineapple
8 oz/227 g diced pineapple, fresh or canned
1/2 cup/120 ml pineapple juice
1/2 tsp Chinese 5-spice blend
- Preheat the oven to 250F/130C.
- Rinse the fig leaves and pat them dry with paper towels. Place the fig leaves on a wire rack set over a baking sheet and dry them in the oven until they turn crisp but not brown, 15 minutes. Remove from the oven.
- While fig leaves are drying, bring the milk and sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan. Remove from the heat.
- Add the dried fig leaves to the hot milk and press them down with a spoon or spatula to submerge completely. Cover the saucepan with a lid and let the liquid cool to room temperature. Strain the milk into a blender using a fine mesh strainer. Discard the leaves.
- Add the buttermilk and cream cheese to the milk and blend until smooth.
- Pour the ice cream base into the canister of your ice cream maker and prepare as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Alternatively, if you don’t own an ice cream maker, transfer the ice cream base to a metal container and cover it with cling wrap. Freeze the mixture for 2 hours or until it begins to firm up. Remove from the freezer, unwrap, and crush the ice crystals using a fork or immersion blender. Alternatively, transfer to a blender or food processor and pulse to break the ice crystals. Cover with the cling wrap and refreeze. Repeat three to four times at 30-minute intervals until the mixture turns soft but frozen. Freezing times will vary depending on the refrigerator.
- While the ice cream cools in the freezer, prepare the pineapple. Place the pineapple with the juice, honey, and Chinese 5-spice. Bring to a boil and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Remove, transfer to an airtight container, and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Rinse the fig leaves well with cold running tap water and pat them dry before use.
- The oven drying temperature is very low to ensure the leaves turn crisp but remain green.
- Once the fig leaves are steeped in the milk, the milk might appear slightly translucent. This is normal and won’t interfere with the texture and look of the ice cream.
- Kefir is an excellent substitute for buttermilk, and I prefer the Lifeway brand for my cooking.