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As summer comes to an end, it seems the perfect time to enjoy its last hurrah. Nothing does that quite the way that homemade ice cream does and adding a special peach sauce over the top makes it particularly stunning as a last nod to summer treat. This ginger ice cream takes a bit to put together, but it is so worth setting aside some time for it. The combination of fresh ginger in the base and crystallized ginger folded into the final product gives it a double shot of flavor.
You could use frozen or canned peaches in this recipe during times when peaches aren't in season, but this time of the year just calls for the juiciest peaches you can get your hands on. If you find yourself with additional sauce after serving your sundaes, consider spooning it over pound cake, into oatmeal or serving it with pancakes or waffles. It's a great way to enjoy one of summer's best fruits.
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2 cups diced fresh peaches plus their natural juices
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons peach brandy or Schnapps, or peach nectar or more juice
1/2 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract
In a large bowl, lightly whisk the egg yolks. In a 3-quart heavy saucepan cook 1/2 cup of the sugar, the fresh gingerroot, and water over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Add the half-and-half and bring to a simmer. Add the hot half-and-half mixture to the yolks in a slow stream, whisking, and pour into a pan. Cook the custard over moderately low heat, stirring constantly, until a thermometer registers 170°F. (Do not allow to boil.)
Pour the custard through a sieve into a cleaned bowl and stir in the heavy cream and teaspoon of vanilla extract. Cool the custard. Chill the custard, its surface covered with plastic wrap, until cold, at least 3 hours, and up to 1 day.
Finely chop the crystallized ginger. Freeze the custard in an ice-cream maker, adding the crystallized ginger three fourths of way through the freezing process. Transfer the ice cream into an airtight container and put it in freezer to harden. It may be made up to 1 week ahead of serving time.
To make the sauce, combine 1/2 cup of the peach juice (add peach nectar to make 1/2 cup if you don't have enough natural juices), 1/4 cup of sugar, the cornstarch, and peach brandy or Schnapps (or more juice) in a saucepan. Cook, stirring often, over medium-low heat until the mixture becomes thickened and bubbly. Add the peaches, flavoring, and cinnamon. Stir to blend the mixture and heat through. Serve with the ice cream. If desired, sprinkle a little chopped crystallized ginger over the sauce to make the ultimate fruity sundae.
Yields: 1 quart of ice cream and enough sauce for 4 servings
Preparation Time: 45 minutes, plus several hours of chilling and freezing time