The flavors of the Mediterranean marry in this richly flavored gelato. Try substituting a tawny Port for a less-sweet and nuttier version.
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
4 large egg yolks
2/3 cups sugar
1 cup ruby Port
2 tsp. honey
1 cup dried figs, finely chopped
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the milk and cream. Place over medium-low heat and cook, stirring occasionally until tiny bubbles start to form around the edges and the mixture reaches a temperature of 170 degrees F. Meanwhile, in a medium heat-proof bowl, whisk the egg yolks until smooth. Gradually whisk in the sugar until it is well incorporated and the mixture is thick and pale yellow. Temper the egg yolks by very slowly pouring in the hot milk mixture while whisking continuously. Return the custard to the saucepan and place over low heat. Cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon and it reaches a temperature of 185 degrees F. Do not bring to a boil.
Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean bowl and let cool to room temperature, stirring every five minutes or so. Once completely cooled, cover and refrigerate until very cold, at least four hours, or overnight. This is your ice cream base.
Pour 3⁄4 cup of the Port into a medium saucepan; add the honey and whisk until dissolved. Add the figs and place over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring often, until the wine is absorbed and the figs start to caramelize, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool completely.
Transfer half of the caramelized figs to a food processor and puree until smooth. Place the pureed figs and chopped figs in separate containers, cover and refrigerate until very cold.
Gently whisk the pureed figs and remaining 1⁄4 cup port into the cold ice cream base. Pour the mixture into the container of an ice cream machine and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Add the chopped figs 5 minutes before the churning is completed. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze for at least 2 hours before serving.
Makes 1 quart.
F.W. Pearce and Danilo Zecchin, The Ciao Bella Book of Gelato & Sorbetto, (Clarkson Potter, 2010)