Yes, I'm asking you to turn your oven on in the summer. For ice cream. And yes, it's worth it.
Because more than any other stonefruit, a less-than-absolutely-gorgeous apricot is well worth cooking. The intense, dry heat of the oven intensifies its flavor, bringing its sweet-tart jamminess into full view.
You can steer clear of the oven, but not for too long. There's a fine line between perfectly roasted into submission and burned, and the latter is irretrievable.
This ice cream has one other trick up its sleeve. In addition to folding chunks of toasted almonds into the churned ice cream, try steeping toasted almonds into the cream itself. The effect is a little subtle, but it adds a deep, lasting toasted richness to the ice cream and provides a nice backbone to all that fruit. You'll lose some of your cream in the process—the almonds soak up 1/4 to 1/2 cup—but there's still plenty to give the ice cream an intense buttery flavor and texture.
- Yield:makes 1 quart
- Active time: 1 hour
- Total time:5 hours
- 4 ounces roasted, unsalted almonds, divided
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 2 pounds (whole) apricots, halved and stoned
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, to taste
Toast 2 ounces almonds in a microwave or a dry saucepan over high heat until they darken slightly and begin to smell nutty, about 1 minute, then finely chop and set aside. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, bring cream to a simmer, then remove from heat, cover, and let steep for 1 to 2 hours.
When cream is about 45 minutes away from done, heat oven to 450°F with an oven rack in the middle position. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and arrange apricots in a single layer, cut side facing up. Roast until apricots are completely soft and begin to caramelize around the edges, about 20 minutes. Check on apricots frequently after the first 15 minutes to make sure they don't burn. Let apricots cool for 10 minutes before handling.
Pour steeped cream through a fine mesh strainer to strain out and discard almonds. Transfer apricots to blender or food processor and top with strained cream and sugar, then purée on high speed until well combined, about 30 seconds. Strain mixture into a lidded container and stir in salt to taste. Chill in refrigerator until very cold, about 3 hours.
Toast remaining 2 ounces almonds in a microwave or a dry saucepan over high heat until they darken slightly and begin to smell nutty, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and chop. A mix of sizes is ideal: small crumbs and pea-sized chunks. Set aside in freezer while ice cream churns.
Churn chilled ice cream base according to manufacturer's instructions. In last minute of churning, add frozen chopped almonds. Transfer ice cream to airtight container and chill in freezer for at least 3 to 4 hours before serving.