I have a difficult relationship with apples, of all things. Rationally, I think they’re great. Versatile, crunchy, easy and fun to eat, good for you, available in an impressive array of textures, sizes, colours and flavours, and at hand from the end if summer through to the end of winter, when little else is. Having grown up with an enthusiastic apple-eating family and being accustomed to seeing my dad devour on average three apples every night after dinner, one would expect me to fit neatly into that and love apples. In a way, I do. Apple cake? Yes please. But give me an apple to eat as it is and I’ll probably pass, because even though I love their crisp flavour and gentle perfume that you can only smell when you bite into them, apples just don’t agree with me. I like their perfume, I like their texture, hell, I even like their flavour! But when it comes to keeping them in my stomach, I seem to struggle. Whether this is some form of incredibly-late adolescent rebellion against my family or just one of those annoying quirks that we all have, I don’t know. I do think, though, that the steamed apples that we had to eat whenever we were poorly as children has definitely put me off eating cooked apples.
While I would have been perfectly content to leave it at that, I have never quite reconciled with the idea of not being able to eat and enjoy apples. So one day, while I was walking to the supermarket, I suddenly had what I would very modestly call a good idea and decided to buy some apples and turn them into ice cream. Ice cream being one of my favourite things, I reckoned, if even that failed, there was really no hope for apples in my life. Encouraged by the fact that almost everything is better when turned into ice cream, and that definitely everything is much better when cooked in butter and sugar, I made apple ice cream. The weather being what it is, I put some cinnamon in there as well, to give the whole thing an autumnal flair. Hazelnuts give some crunch, mascarpone a creamy and mild base and the whole thing has a proud and, yes, you guessed it right, a fantastic apple flavour. My stomach agrees.
Melt the butter ove rlow heat in a pan and add the cinnamon, letting it infuse the butter with its flavour for a moment. Add the apples and sugar and stir until the apple pieces are evenly coated and the sugar is melted. Let it cook on low heat for about 15-20 minutes, until the apples are soft and the sugar has caramelised. Turn off the heat and let it cool down. Add the milk and puree the apple mixture, either with a hand-held blender or in a food processor. If you need to, add a little bit more milk. Stir in the mascarpone until the mixtur is even. Taste and decide whether you need more sugar: it will have to taste very sweet before churning for the ice cream to taste normal, sugar-wise. Cool the mixture in the fridge before churning in the ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Set the ice cream in the freezer for at least a couple of hours before serving, with lightly toasted halzenuts.