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Peach Ice Cream with Farro Piccolo

Freed from the customary egg-rich crème anglaise, peach ice cream soars to fresh heights.

About 2 quarts


About 1½ hours to prepare the farro and ice cream base, at least 4 hours to chill the base, 20 or so minute to churn the ice cream, and at least 6 hours to freeze until firm


Peaches and cream rank as one of high summer’s simplest pleasures, a notion that should push peach ice cream up near “perfect” on the scale. Yet the ice cream we churned using a classic French base of egg yolks, cream, and sugar (known as crème anglaise) never quite captured the pure singing essence that is peach. Its texture was sublime, but its flavor faint of heart. We dashed down to Sicily in pursuit of an alternate approach to fruit ice cream, one with a lighter touch and an ancient pedigree. So-called Sicilian-style ice cream contains no eggs—its base is thickened with a cooked cornstarch pudding in lieu of yolks. We seized the concept but made the pudding with Carolina Gold rice flour—of course. The pudding creates a lush, velvety texture, while at the same time clearing tongue-coating fat and competing flavors away from the palate’s appreciation of peach. A beautiful shade of muted coral, the ice cream is delicate enough to be considered “just peachy.”

But just peachy isn’t where the story ends. The natural affinity of peaches and farro prompted us to throw some farro piccolo in for punctuation. With a sweet stick-in-the-teeth chewiness, frozen farro has a texture almost like caramel. As the ice cream melts, the farro becomes a plump, bouncy medium through which the essence of peach is expressed. We think this ice cream gives a delicious nod to the Persian frozen vermicelli concoction called faloodeh, as well as to orchid root- and mastic-thickened Turkish dondurma. Ice cream owes its origins to that region of the world so the parallels couldn’t be more fitting.

Cooking Remarks

Choose peaches at the height of fragrance and ripeness, peaches so juicy they’re best consumed over a sink. Add extra points if you find freestone. Gold Bud are particularly lovely to work with.

St-Germain is a French liqueur produced from the blossoms of elderflowers whose flavor is absolutely magical with peaches. We use it to macerate the cooked farro.

This ice cream freezes up nice and firm. Do give it several minutes at room temperature to “come around.”

equipment mise en place

To make this recipe, you will need a digital kitchen scale; a heavy-bottomed small saucepan; a fine-mesh strainer; small, medium, and large bowls; a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan; a whisk; a silicone spatula; a digital instant-read thermometer; a Dutch oven; a mesh skimmer; a potato masher; an ice cream machine; and a 1½-quart container for storing the ice cream.


    In a heavy-bottomed small saucepan, combine the farro and water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then turn down the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until the farro is extremely soft and many of the grains have split, about 25 minutes. Drain the farro in a fine-mesh strainer, shake off the water, and roughly chop it on a cutting board. Turn the chopped farro into a small bowl, stir in a big pinch of salt and the St- Germain. Set aside to cool, then cover and refrigerate.


    In a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan, whisk together the rice flour, the 2.5 ounces sugar, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Add the half-and-half and whisk well. Set the pan over medium-low heat and cook, stirring with a silicone spatula or a whisk (or alternate between the two), until the pudding is thickened, has become glossy, and registers 200 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 7 minutes; it will not reach a simmer. Scrape the pudding into a medium bowl. Set the bowl in a larger bowl filled with ice water and let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.


    Fill a Dutch oven with water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Fill a large bowl with ice water and set it near the stove. Using a paring knife, cut a small X in the bottom of each peach. Drop the peaches one at a time into the boiling water and blanch until the skins begin to curl back from the Xs, about 20 seconds if the peaches are ripe. Using a mesh skimmer, transfer the peaches to the ice bath and let stand until no longer warm to the touch, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the peaches to several thicknesses of paper towels to dry.


    Add the lemon juice to a large bowl. Working one at a time, peel, pit, and quarter each peach, drop the quarters into the bowl, and toss with the lemon juice to prevent discoloration. Cut each quarter lengthwise into 3 wedges, then crosswise into rough ⅜-inch cubes; return the cubes to the bowl as you go. When all the peaches have been diced, add the remaining 2 ounces sugar and a pinch of salt. Stir with a silicone spatula to combine; the peaches, if nice and ripe, should immediately begin to exude some juice. Let stand until the peaches are slightly softened and very juicy, 5 to 10 minutes.


    Transfer the mixture to a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan. Set the pan over medium heat and cook, stirring with the spatula, until the juices just begin to bubble; this should take about 5 minutes. Using a mesh skimmer, transfer 8 ounces of the peach chunks to a small bowl and mash with a potato masher to a coarse, lumpy pulp, then cover and refrigerate. Transfer the remaining peaches and juices to a blender, then puree until thick and smooth, about 20 seconds. You should have about 15 ounces of puree; if you have more than 15 ounces, reserve the overage for mixing into yogurt or cocktails. Stir the puree into the pudding mixture, cover, and refrigerate until fully chilled, at least 4 hours or up to overnight. Place a 1½-quart container for storing the ice cream in the freezer to chill.


    Pour the chilled base into the canister of your ice cream machine and churn until the ice cream is softly yet firm enough to mound on itself, about 15 minutes, depending on your machine. Add the farro and its liqueur and continue churning until the farro is evenly distributed and the ice cream is slightly firmer. Now spoon in the mashed peaches and continue churning until well combined, 2 minutes; the ice cream should be softly set. Transfer to the chilled container, cover, and freeze until the ice cream is firm, at least 6 hours. If it is too firm to scoop, let stand at room temperature for several minutes to soften.