She was nine years old and had never tasted ice cream. In the bitter cold of a North Saskatchewan winter she had tasted frozen cream. Milk was delivered in the dark early mornings by a horse-driven wagon and by the time it was rescued from the stoop the milk had a raised cap of cream on the top of the bottle. A quick slice of the knife and frozen cream became the occasional treat. War time ration restrictions meant many food items weren’t available and those that were (such as sugar) were rationed.
It was the endless days of summer holidays. She had spent a glorious day with her cousins playing in the sweet smelling hay loft. Hot, sticky with prickly bits of hay they opened the heavy ice house door and entered a dark world of sawdust covered blocks of ice. The older children chipped at the ice blocks. The rest quickly filled a bucket with the pieces. They paused to brush the sawdust from a few of the chips and slipped the delicious coldness into their mouths.
The cream custard filled the metal container. The wooden bucket was packed with ice and rock salt. The handle was turned and the alchemy of making of ice cream began.
She never forgot this first taste of home-made ice cream. Years later when she opened her restaurant she wanted to share this experience. Her beautiful Italian machine churned out batch after batch of ice cream. There were forays into different flavours but in the end she decided to create one absolutely perfect ice cream dessert.
First she made tuiles aux amandes – wafer thin cookies studded with sliced almonds.
Then she took pecans and crisped them with butter and sugars.
More butter and sugar and cream became salted caramel sauce.
Finally she made her ice cream. One perfect flavour – vanilla. Vanilla ice cream studded with tiny bits of chopped pralines.
She filled the tuiles with the ice cream. Poured the golden caramel over. Added a flourish of whipped cream and finished it with a scattering of glittering pralines. Voila!! The most perfect of ice cream desserts.
I made vanilla ice cream at our restaurant ROXY’S BISTRO every day for seven years. It is the perfect ratio of cream, milk and eggs. I share this recipe with you. Simply click on VANILLA ICE CREAM. The praline ice cream extravaganza is a bit over the top but the very best thing about ice cream – you can be as creative or as simple as you want. These days I walk out to the strawberry patch and pick fresh berries. In a few days the blackberry bushes will share their bounty with all who are willing to brave its thorns. But occasionally – just for old times sake – I do indulge and make praline ice cream in tuiles aux amandes with salted caramel sauce and whipped cream.