Tribute to the house of my childhood
As long as I can remember my dad has had a very special type of pet: bees. Clearly, you cannot cuddle them like you could with a dog, cat, rabbit or guinea pig. On the contrary, many people actually confuse bees with wasps and are afraid of them. Unlike other pets, the bees didn’t stay in our house either. My dad´s bees used to live in the forest, in a little stand where all beekeepers of the village kept their bees. For me, bees have always been very interesting animals. There are many living together in one community and within the beehives it looks like an organized chaos. Bees seem to work really hard and have their own communication methods. Pretty impressive, for such small animals. And another large advantage of having them as a pet: they produce honey.
When I was still living with my parents, my sister and I always helped with the different tasks that were required to take care of the bees throughout the year. This ranged from things like creating the wooden frames in which the bees can build their honeycombs to extracting the honey. Of course, the most exciting part of taking care of the bees used to be this last task. Extracting the honey is done by taking the thin layer of wax off the honeycomb, spinning the frames in a centrifuge to get the honey out, and finally pouring it through a large sieve and filling the jars. It always used to be a sticky business, since it is impossible not to try some of the honey while pouring it in jars. It really looks like fluid gold when it drips out of the centrifuge. The process is fun and the final product is amazing and always a surprise. Unlike the commercial honey you usually buy in the supermarket, the flavour of each batch is distinct due to the different flowers that blossom during the year.
Since I moved away from my parents and usually live abroad, I have had to get used to the commercially produced honey. But I am always excited when I find a place where I can buy some honey from a local producer. It certainly brings back memories. Clearly, I was very happy when my parents brought me a jar of their own honey the last time I saw them. So I decided to not just eat it without thinking, but to create a dish around it.
Also, my parents have just sold the house I grew up in so that they can move abroad. Therefore I prepared this dish as a tribute to that place. We used to have a beautiful kiwi plant in the backyard. Although it never gave fruits, it flowered each year and gave a lot of shadow. And in front of the house there was a large hazelnut tree, clearly differentiating our house from the others in the street. Because of this I’ve paired the honey flavour with kiwi fruits and hazelnuts.
Honey ice cream with kiwi fruit and hazelnuts
This type of ice cream, also called parfait, does not have to be stirred while freezing. It contains enough air, because the cream has been whipped, and fat from the cream and egg yolks to avoid the forming of ice crystals that change the texture. Instead it remains smooth without stirring.
Ingredients (for 2)
- 2 egg yolks
- 60 grams of whipping cream
- Small bunch of fresh thyme
- 2 kiwis
- Hazelnuts – 50 grams
- Small dried chilli
In the morning, or the day before you want to eat the dessert, start by making the honey ice cream. Place four large tablespoons of honey and eight tablespoons of water in a small pot over low fire. Take the leaves of the thyme and add them to the honey mixture. Leave this on a low fire to let the honey melt and create a syrup. Whip the cream to soft peaks and place the cream in the fridge.
Bring a wide pot of water to a boil. Take a bowl that fits over the pot with water and place the egg yolks in it. Whisk the yolks well. Place the bowl with the yolks over the boiling water, but don´t let the bottom touch the water (au bain marie). Continue to whisk until the yolks become a pale yellow. Take the bowl away from the heat and add the warm honey syrup slowly while continuing to whisk. When all the syrup has been incorporated, place the bowl over the boiling water again and continue to whisk until the mixture is light and has doubled in volume, around five minutes. Then take it off the pot again and keep whisking until the mixture has cooled down. Take the cream out of the fridge and carefully incorporate the egg yolk mixture. Divide the mixture over two small moulds, cover with plastic foil and place in the freezer. To make it easier to get the ice cream out of the mould, you can cover the moulds from the inside with plastic foil as well before pouring in the mixture. They should be in the freezer for at least four hours or until set.
Just before serving the dessert, you can start on the hazelnut crumb. Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Use a blender to finely chop the hazelnuts and one small dried chilli until it resembles breadcrumbs. The amount of chilli depends on your, but one small one should be sufficient. The pieces of hazelnut don´t have to be all perfectly small, some different sizes of the nuts add extra texture. In a small pot, melt a good knob of butter with a tablespoon of honey. Mix this through the hazelnuts and spread the nuts out on a baking tray. Place this in the oven for around 10 minutes. Just check now and then, the mixture should become golden brown but not too dark. Let the crumb cool down so that it becomes crunchy.
Finally, peel the kiwis and take out the white core. Blend the kiwis until they have a smooth consistency. If you prefer you can add a bit of honey, but when the fruits are good you shouldn´t need this. Take the ice creams out of their mould and place them on a plate. Serve with the kiwi purée and the hazelnut crumble.