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Summer Treat Fig Ice Cream
From America: The Vegetarian Table, by Deborah Madison

Almost every old collection of Southern recipes I looked at had fig desserts, of which this is one. You'll want dead-ripe, juicy figs. The ice cream has no extra flavorings, but I always find that a little clove and lemon bring out this fruit's flavor. You may wish to add them, too. If the figs are still a little green and not quite up to par, chop them up and cook them first with 1 cup of the sugar or 3/4 cup light honey, then proceed with the recipe.

Ingredients:

2 pints ripe, sweet figs (about 1 pound or a little more)
1 quart half-and-half or 2 cups each milk and heavy cream
1-1/2 cups sugar
6 eggs, separated, or 3 egg yolks and 6 whites
pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
finely grated zest of 1 lemon

Instructions:

Rinse the figs, for they're usually dusty. If the skins are thick, peel them. If they're thin, you can leave them on. In any case, chop them roughly, then place in a bowl and mash them with a fork into a thick, chunky purée.

Pour the half-and-half or milk and cream in a saucepan and add 1 cup of the sugar. Place over medium heat and heat just to boiling, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat. Gradually whisk the hot cream into a bowl containing the egg yolks. Add the salt, cloves, lemon zest, and figs and refrigerate until well chilled.

When the fig mixture is cold, whip the egg whites in a spacious bowl until they form soft peaks. Gradually add the remaining sugar and continue to beat until a soft meringue is formed. Fold the meringue into the figs, then freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions, or in a large tray in the freezer.

Yield: makes about 6 cups; serves 8

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