The other day, I was idly looking at papayas sitting in the fruit bowl on the kitchen counter when they triggered a taste memory: the intense flavor of papaya transformed into something smooth, creamy and icy.
Funny thing is, I could remember the taste and texture, but it took me awhile to conjure up the recipe in my head. It niggled at me until I let the memory play out…the kids were little, we lived in a condo on Cathedral Hill in San Francisco and I used to make this ice for company all the time.
I’d moved on to other desserts and for years, I’d forgotten about this one, yet it’s one of those great make-ahead choices. You merely puree the ingredients, freeze in ice cube trays and when it’s time for dessert, just whirl the cubes in the food processor to produce a lovely slush.
I was so caught up in the idea of fruit ices that I made three over the weekend: papaya, pineapple and strawberry. The papaya was the Sunrise variety with rosy flesh. Papaya needs a squeeze of lemon juice to give it zip.
I bought the fresh pineapple pre-peeled and already cut in wedges. I was trying to replicate a pina colada so I added canned coconut cream instead of the water called for in the recipe.
And while not tropical, I chose strawberry as my third ice for color and flavor contrasts. Strawberries are especially easy to use – they just need to be hulled.
Basic Fruit Ice
4 cups fresh fruit (such as papayas, pineapple or strawberries)
About ½ cup sugar
½ cup water *
1 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice
Peel, core or seed fruit, as needed. Cut fruit in chunks and put in the food processor. Add sugar and pulse a few times to combine. Add water and 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice and process until fruit is pureed. Taste the puree and add additional sugar and lemon juice, if needed. Pour into ice cube trays and freeze overnight or until firm. When ready to serve, put about 6 cubes in the food processor and use on and off bursts to break up the cubes somewhat, then process until smooth. Spoon pureed cubes into a plastic container and return to the freezer to keep chilled while processing the remaining cubes. Serve immediately. Makes about 4 servings.
* If using pineapple as your fruit, substitute ½ cup canned coconut cream for the water if you want a pina colada flavor.
Tip: Once the cubes are firm, you can remove them from trays and store in plastic bags in the freezer.
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