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RESTAURANTS : EATING IN: A host of traditional and unusual ice cream treats to cool you off on long sunny days.

NOTHING captures the atmosphere of summer more than an ice cream - and it's one of the ultimate comfort foods to get you through life's crises and down moments.

Its enduring popularity is reflected in the fact that Britons apparently enjoy 8.1 litres of ice cream each annually, with vanilla still the favourite flavour.

Addicts will find a feast of flavours in Liz Franklin's new book Ice Cream which takes ice cream into the gourmet league. She reveals a host of delicious traditional and unusual ice cream dishes ideal for cooling treats and desserts on hot, sunny days.

'Tasting an ice cream in Portugal while on holiday as an adult triggered my ongoing love affair with home-made ice cream,' Liz says of her conversion to becoming an Ice Cream Queen.

'The cone was almost the same size as an Olympic torch and it was filled with the most exquisite ice cream I had ever tasted. It was the colour of rich cream, flecked with tiny black seeds from plump Madagascan vanilla pods and each mouthful was pure bliss.'

Inspired, she returned home and made her first home-made ice cream by hand. Over the years, as her passion for ice cream increased, she's concocted mouth-watering creations including Pineapple and Fresh Mint Ice Cream, New York Cheesecake Ice Cream, and Liquorice Ice Cream.

There are also perennial favourites such as Rich Vanilla Ice Cream and Caramel Ice Cream, plus sorbets and lollies.

All are easy to prepare either by hand or by using an ice cream machine.

She says proudly: 'Commercially made, chemically enhanced ice creams can never compare with those made at home with fresh, natural ingredients ICE Cream, by Liz Franklin, is published by Ryland Peters & Small, priced pounds 8.99. Available now.

BUTTERED PECAN AND MAPLE SYRUP ICE CREAM (serves 4-6) 2tbsp unsalted butter 150g pecan nuts coarsely chopped 300ml whole milk 300ml double cream 6 egg yolks 100g soft light brown sugar 150ml maple syrup An ice cream machine (optional) Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan, add the pecans and fry gently over a low heat until golden and fragrant. Remove to a plate and let cool.

Pour the milk and cream into a separate saucepan and bring to the boil. Put the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl and beat until smooth. Pour the hot liquid over the eggs, stir until smooth, then return to the saucepan.

Turn down the heat and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the custard has thickened, taking care not to let the mixture overheat and scramble. Add the maple syrup and let cool completely. Churn in an ice cream machine until almost frozen. Add the chopped pecans and continue to churn until the mixture is completely frozen. Transfer to a freezer-proof container and freeze until ready to serve. If you are making the ice cream without a machine the mixture should be frozen in a shallow container. When almost solid, beat it well with a wire whisk or electric beater until smooth, then return to the freezer. Repeat the process twice more to break down the ice crystals, and the result will be a smooth, silky ice cream.

Fold in the pecans just before returning the ice cream to the freezer for the final time.

Store all ice creams in a well-sealed, freezer-proof container to prevent freezer burn. Eat as soon as possible after making, certainly within a week. As a general rule transfer from the freezer to the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes before serving, to let it soften evenly

CAPTION(S):

Pecan and maple syrup ice cream
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:May 27, 2005
Words:600
Previous Article:RESTAURANTS : Modesty off the menu at the Monro; Adrian Butler dines at a place calling itself Liverpool's greatest gastropub.
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