When I had an epiphany at La Casa del Pueblo, our local Mexican market, that fried ice cream would make a fun ending to our weekend taco feast, I didn’t think twice about whether or not fried ice cream is actually fried. Having only eaten it a couple times, at a Mexican chain restaurant when I was a kid, I had always thought the “fried” component was one of those urban legends or a myth–like the one my mom used to tell me about how a statue of St. Patrick outside a church in my hometown would come to life on St. Patrick’s Day and sprinkle shamrocks in people’s yards.
So when Art quizzed me about why I wasn’t breaking out the deep fryer, I informed him, confidently, that fried ice cream really isn’t fried. A few days later, after tasty results with this dessert prompted me to set the record straight, I checked my sources and discovered that the traditional version of this dessert is in fact fried, albeit using ice cream frozen at an extremely low temperature that could not achieved using a standard freezer. I also found online a variety of fried ice cream recipes for the home cook, which made my shortcut akin to calling a raw potato a French fry.
Lots of things taste better fried, but frying can be messy. My ice cream was melting almost immediately after I took it out of the freezer (even after it had been coated with crumbs and refrozen for a few hours), and because I try to avoid splattering hot oil all over myself, I would be hesitant to fry these. If you’re up to frying, go for it. But if you don’t mind defeating the purpose, this not-so fried version is great, too.
7-8 gingersnaps (the bulk variety from Whole Foods, Torn Ranch, is awesome, with chunks of candied ginger)
zest of 1/2 orange
zest of 1/2 lime
vanilla ice cream
8 fresh apricots, seeded and quartered lengthwise*
1/4 cup turbinado sugar
1/4 cup water
Process the gingersnaps in a food processor until fine. Place crumbs on a plate, add citrus zest, and mix to combine. Roll scoops of ice cream in crumbs, and place on plastic-lined plates or sheet pans. Freeze until solid. Roll ice cream in any leftover crumbs to more thoroughly coat, if necessary. Freeze ice cream.
In a saucepan over low heat, combine apricots, sugar, and water. Simmer over low heat, covered, until apricots are soft but still hold their shape, about 7-10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool thoroughly, reserving syrup.
Place four pieces of apricot and syrup in a bowl. Top with “fried” ice cream and drizzle with cajeta.
*Hint: The skins of the apricot are easier to remove once the fruit has stewed in the syrup.
**Cajeta is a thick syrup made from sweetened, caramelized goat’s milk. You could substitute regular caramel or dulce de leche, but if you can find it, go for the cajeta, which has a unique, goat’s milk tang.