Caramelized Fig Ice Cream

08 . 25 . 13

Happyolks | Caramelized Fig Ice Cream Happyolks | Caramelized Fig Ice Cream Happyolks | Caramelized Fig Ice Cream

Dear friend,

Many years ago I was on a flight from Boston to Dallas after the funeral. My heart was swollen with grief, my head pounded with rage and questions about loss. Sick and lonely, I sat in an aisle near the front of the plane and stared blankly at two stewardesses gossiping and locking, unlocking, locking cabinets in preparation for takeoff. A little girl lept, literally, across the threshold of the plane behind them. We made eye contact and I smiled at her. She was four years old, maybe five, I never can tell the ages of children. Turning back to her mom, then back to me, she bounded toward the corner of my seat and placed her tiny hands on my crossed knees and shouted “You are the most beautiful princess I have EVER SEEEEEEENNNN!!!” I began sobbing, instantly. I don’t remember anyone looking at me, the hot, soggy mess that I was. I don’t remember being embarrassed. I only remember feeling more peace, anguish, and assurance than I had ever previously known, or have perhaps known since.

I share this with you, friend, because I know that little girl is looking for you right now. She is bounding down the aisles of your life to tell you, remind you, that despite your brokenness, you are a bright shining light in this world. You are worthy of joy and happiness. Despite your mistakes and wrong turns, you deserve the sun and the moon and all of the stars. The pain you feel, the questions that keep you up at night, the sadness you harbor, the wounds you hide for friends and colleagues — all of this, all of these things, will make sense one day. Not today. And that’s totally fine. It’s okay that things are not okay.

If you lived here, I would hope to find you sitting on my front porch tomorrow evening as I returned from errands. I would hold you. I would hold you so tight. Then I would make you a grilled cheese sandwich and we might drink the good wine straight from the bottle and I would tell you about the little girl and the plane and how wonderfully fucked up and outrageously mind-blowing the Universe seemed in that moment. Because that’s what there is, you know. Madness and wonder. Joy and agony. Fear and freedom. All at once, all the time.

Happyolks | Caramelized Fig Ice Cream Happyolks | Caramelized Fig Ice Cream Happyolks | Caramelized Fig Ice Cream

Remember that night in Beijing after we had that god-awful duck and saw a show at the Peking Opera house and it was so cold in the theater that we could barely feel our toes? We found a bathroom in a bar down the street at intermission and the insides of the stalls were completely covered in mirrors. Everywhere. Head to toe mirrors in front of us behind us, above us. We laughed hysterically and you asked me from the stall next door, “have I been drugged?!!” I sat with my pants at my ankles and laughed, “well, if you’ve been drugged, so have I.”

We were in China. Sick and stuffed with duck and happiness. We were also in China, having no idea, really, where we were, and had found ourselves in a bathroom where it was impossible to NOT look at our tired, pale, puffy-faced, half-naked selves and wonder about the meaning of life. I remember blowing steam on the wall to my right and watching my reflection become hazy. I closed my eyes and prayed that we’d never forget who we were and how we felt in that moment. The magic. The hysteria. The total confrontation of self in the most bizarre and unknown circumstances. There was this feeling that the situation reflected upon how perfect and awkward and hilarious and terrifying the best and worst moments always are.

I mean this in all seriousness. For you and me, girl, there will be times in our lives that will somehow all boil down to one vulnerable minute, sitting on the John, and really seeing ourselves… seeing ourselves, and coming to terms with what’s looking back. I think you’re upon one of those times. What do you see?

Happyolks | Caramelized Fig Ice Cream Happyolks | Caramelized Fig Ice Cream

Dear friend, I want you to know that you are the most beautiful princess I have ever seen. Your losses, regrets, sins, and secrets. Your exstacies, braveries, dreams, and triumphs. All of it, a masterpiece. Every last bit.

Breathe in, breathe out. Dig deep. I love you.

Happyolks | Caramelized Fig Ice Cream Happyolks | Caramelized Fig Ice Cream Happyolks | Caramelized Fig Ice Cream

Caramelized Fig Ice Cream with Mascarpone and Honey Pecans

  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup mascarpone
  • 1/3 granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp pink salt
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 lb Black Mission Figs
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2-4 tbsp water
  • 1 cup honey roasted pecans, roughly chopped

 

For the fig-swirl: Melt butter over medium heat in a saucepan. Add brown sugar and stir to dissolve. Halve all of the figs and toss in the saucepan with water and lemon juice. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until you have a chunky-jammy mixture. Add salt with one or two stirs, set aside and let cool completely.

Ice cream: In a small pot over medium heat, combine milk, and granulated sugar until sugar is completely dissolved and the milk is just barely lukewarm. Whisk in the egg yolks. Set mixture in the fridge and wait until the fig mixture is cooled.

Using an ice cream machine, pour liquids into the frozen basin and process according to manufacturer instructions, i.e., let spin and thicken for 20 minutes before adding mascarpone, fig jam mixture, and the nuts. Continue to process for +/- 10 minutes. Pour semi-frozen mixture into a pyrex dish or glass tupperware. Freeze for at least two hours before serving.

No ice cream maker? The Kitchn can help with that.

Happyolks | Caramelized Fig Ice Cream

  • A beautiful piece of writing – true and honest and fearless. Thank you for sharing Kelsey.

  • Thanks for these words – I needed them.

  • Your words speak so much life. Just lovely. xo — Such a creative use of figs and a perfect pairing with the other main ingredients.

  • Natalie

    I love you too, and I don’t even know you! Kelsey, this is so beautifully written it makes me cry. Thank you! Love from N., in Norway.

  • This is the most wonderful piece of writing. Maybe my favorite thus far. I think we all need to be reminded of the beautiful princesses within us. Thank you.

    And now… I want ice cream :)

  • I feel as though I think or write this on every post – but you truly are a beautiful soul in your writing. From what I’ve seen your outsides match your inside too, you are gorgeous through and through. Lately I am not writing many words as I give my eyes reprieve and just feel every ounce of gratitude for everything in my life. But to share in the beauty of words in your post is a gift. x

  • I don’t know how it happened, but you got me crying on a weird winter’s morning halfway across the world. thank you, thank you, thank you. I wish we could be friends. (in a totally non creepy way). You are a beautiful princess.

  • Those figs alone look amazing, but this recipe as a whole is absolutely lovely. Great recipe!

  • Mmm-hmmm. Gorgeous. Love this.

  • This was beautiful. Everything about it. Here’s me sending out good vibes to you and yours.

  • Such. Beautiful. Words.
    And Ice cream.

  • You are such a blessing in my life. Thank you once again.

  • Ashley

    Seriously, you are the best

  • How do you do this? Every single time. You make me cry, girl! In the most beautiful way imaginable.

  • So, my husband and I stopped in Denver to see friends and family on our road trip (as we made our move to MD from WA), and as we drove along the streets of Denver, I fell in love with the city… the runners, the people walking their dogs, the vibe, the brick apartments, the nice parks, everything about it. As we drove through neighborhoods I found myself wondering where you lived and that maybe I should shoot you an email and ask if maybe you would have coffee with me. But that was two and a half weeks ago and I realized you must be in Alaska. You are a beautiful person Kelsey and you inspire me in so many ways… Much love and blessings to you! P.S. Your sharing this ice cream recipe is the perfect proof of your love for your readers.

  • such gorgeous words. always. to the beautiful princess found in my mirror and yours.

  • You give me the chills. The best kind.

  • Emma

    When I clicked over to this I was curled up, a ball of emotion, tight and wound up and crying and blind to a way out. I needed this. Weirdly, I’d been sitting on the loo a few minutes before, staring into the mirror opposite, trying to read in my face what I should do, imagining myself in the various situations, using the mirror like a blue screen. I was trying to seek out my gut feeling. My gut feelings have gone on holiday and left me empty. Every option comes up blank. I want to say give me strength, world. I know I have to find it inside, somewhere, somehow. I’ve been away from the computer for an hour and come back and already I feel stronger, though no nearer to a decision. Another decision. Yet another.

    I needed to be told to breathe. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

    (this ice cream looks insanely good.)

  • Debs

    Thanks, I really needed to read this today. Although I have never been to China but I have been to where the emotions of your writing took me. Thanks again.

  • I do not know who or what inspired this post, and I do not need to. But I do know that during a time where I am lost and breaking and feel as if I am drowning in everything new and terrifying in my life, I have seen these words and they have spoken to me and I am so grateful. Thank you for sharing these pieces of your life, and for these words. They give me courage and strength to keep on.

  • Divine.
    Found your sweet stories and recipes via Food52.

    Have a great rest of summer!

  • Chills over here.

  • This looks to die for. I’ve never cooked with figs but want to try, any tips you have on working with them?

  • Caroline

    I typically refrain from commenting on blogs because the action of sending my words out into the bottomless black hole of the interwebs makes me feel lonely, but here goes nothing:

    Children have an immense innate capacity to heal and empower. I love how you’ve illustrated that here, and I love that examples of children’s divine innocence can draw a picture that creates a coherent metaphor for life and for our general humanity. The fact that the little girl knew that you needed affirmation at that moment seems magical but is really just an example of inherent human connection, unadulterated by the norms and restraints that we impose upon ourselves as we grow.

    I want to share a similar story: In the middle of last week, I was deep in a pit of sadness, lost and confused and lonely. Happily, though, I was given hope when I received an invitation to spend an afternoon with (i.e., babysit) my favorite three-year-old girl. We played and imagined and genuinely enjoyed each other’s company, as we always do. In each moment, I felt shaken and teary-eyed yet alive and validated and whole, all at once. Near the end of our time together, we took a really-quite-long walk (for a three-year-old) to the girl’s favorite park. After we’d walked to the park and played for an hour and walked half-way home, the girl requested a piggy-back ride, and I happily obliged. As she was bouncing on my back, I gazed toward the sky and thanked the heavens for this time and felt her healing powers as I said, “Belle, thank you for this walk. You are really quite amazing.” Without a moment’s pause, she responded, with full enthusiasm and sincerity, “You’re amazing, too! I love you, Caroline.” And the wounds of my trodden adult heart were immediately healed.

    Children are healing. So is friendship. So is good ice cream. Thank you for this post. You are really quite amazing.

  • Kelsey (Happyolks)

    Hi Caroline! I’m so glad you chose to share your heart here! I can tell you (and I hope other readers can back me up on this), there’s no such thing as a bottomless black hole on Happyolks. I usually respond to comments via email because I’m pro-intimacy, but I wanted to share with you this quote that I think you (and everyone else) will appreciate based on the stories we’ve both shared about the grace and wisdom of children:

    Keep me away from the wisdom which does not cry, the philosophy which does not laugh and the greatness which does not bow before children. Khalil Gibran

    Love to you, Caroline. I think YOU are really quite amazing.

  • Kathryn K

    wow
    you got me again
    I was sobbing as I read this:

    I share this with you, friend, because I know that little girl is looking for you right now. She is bounding down the aisles of your life to tell you, remind you, that despite your brokenness, you are a bright shining light in this world. You are worthy of joy and happiness. Despite your mistakes and wrong turns, you deserve the sun and the moon and all of the stars. The pain you feel, the questions that keep you up at night, the sadness you harbor, the wounds you hide for friends and colleagues — all of this, all of these things, will make sense one day. Not today. And that’s totally fine. It’s okay that things are not okay.

    The last post that got me was your camping trip and you wrote me a note as I told how miserable I was, I still am, I know som things gotta give.
    thanks for being you

  • It’s not often that I read blog posts with the same attention I would give a book or an article. With yours I do; they deserve it. Nicely done.

  • Molly E

    love this. I am a therapist and this is what I say to my patients every day! yes we are all in need of that little girl telling us how wonderful we are. XOOX

  • Pamela

    It’s been a while since I started following your blog, but sincerely I was one of those people who just quickly check you photos recipes and of course love them but didn’t really appreciate them, but today after a long day I decide to make time to really take a closer look into them and from today you’re my favorite blog. Not only I discover the little details from your photos but I also discovered your lovely stories, this one in particular touch my heart and I have to say I will read all the past your you have posted so thank you for sharing and now I can’t wait too make a mess on my kitchen and prepare ice cream!, so count with me as a daily follower and thank you for your blog.

  • Isa

    Dear Kelsey,

    I wanted to start this by saying that you don’t know me. But that is wrong. You do. You know me quite well, though we have never met. Sometimes I am unnerved by your posts, because you so consistently hit the nail on the head with each one. And this one did not fall short, in fact it hit that damned proverbial nail so precisely here I am emailing you. You speak wonders. You speak what I know that I (and it seems many others) need to hear. You said to breathe, and thank heaven for that because I was holding my breath. You said that all of the mistakes and regrets and losses are a masterpiece, and I so needed to hear that because right now from where I stand I almost don’t believe you, but I desperately want to, so I will dig deep. Because you are reminding me to. Because we all need someone to remind us to, and thank you thank you thank you for the nudge. I will try to love myself better now. I will try to forgive and grow and learn and inspire. I will remember to breathe. And this too shall pass.

  • What a beautiful post! Such wonderful words. And I love your recipe too!

  • Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us Kelsey.

  • I love this more than i can say. I wish i had an ice cream machine so that I could make this fig masterpiece and then savor it over your beautiful and sorrowful words.

  • Kelsey,

    thank you. those were some truly wonderful words and they arrive just at the exact moment they were needed the most.

    sometimes you don’t do anything and you still manage to do wrong – but then again as you say, that’s ok. the mistakes are ok to make. my little sister helps me with this compass sometimes when I loose direction. those times when I fail she’s that girl that knows exactly what is wrong and what is right and I admire her as much as she in just as, she puts in truly wonderful words, admires me. she helps me see that maybe it’s not always my mistakes, but someone else’s, that got me off track. she tells me I amazing, and all I can think of is how amazingly awesome my little sister is, and how much I love her. that’s a girl I’d like to bring out every now and again.

    though she’s not a little girl anymore. I’d dare say she’s a woman. but she knows exactly when to be childishly straight forward with her words. and just as with your’s they dazzle me every time.

  • Oh Kelsey,
    Your words always hit me right where they need to. Often, I feel like you have the ability to crawl inside my head and pull out my thoughts and then artfully arrange them in the most poignant and beautifully compelling way. I want to share your blog with every young (and young-at heart) person in my life each time you post. Thank you for reminding us that we’re all in this life together, struggling along with the same and s0-very-different struggles each day. You have a beautiful gift. I’m so very glad you’ve found it.

  • Every once in a while, I will come across something that feels as though it was made for me to find it. Whatever struggle or sorrow I may be struggling through, this “meant to be found” thing somehow reminds me that there is another shore.

    Thank you for writing one of these “meant to be found” things.

  • How do you do it darling. Honestly, this was meant for me right now. When I say that, it was also meant for so many other people who come to this space. Thats the magic of it… we never really are alone are we? We’ve just left Denver but there is a good chance we will be back in January for good, well for a few years at least. Maybe I’ll see you then.

  • Emily

    I have to echo everyone else’s sentiments. Everything you commit to paper makes something make sense in my life. Usually, it makes me smile because its a lesson I have learned after some long, hard struggles. So beautifully written, thank you.

  • Bea

    Your writing brings me to my knees.

  • Alexandra Aru

    Such a beautiful blog, lovely words and stunning photography. Looking forward to upcoming posts.

    Best,
    Alex

  • This is a powerful piece of writing, Kelsey. You have a gift.

  • Kelsey,
    You bring out the best in your readers, and I have a feeling, in many, many people in your life. Your ability to help universalize grief and confusion, to discover connection in our tangly internal human-ness, and bring us to a place of gratitude essential to making peace with our (simultaneously solo and shared) existence is a great testament to your character and how you choose to live your life.
    Thank you!

  • val

    …one of those stories, one of those good stories that sits in your mind and takes up residence for what you know, what you hope, will be a long while.

    thank you~

  • Hi Kelsey,
    It’s so beautiful how you open your heart like this to everyone.
    I’ve been following your blog before, but I never had the courage to comment. But this story made me say something. It’s not much… Just thank you. Thank you for sharing your story in such an honest way. It’s really inspiring for anyone that pays attention to the little details of life.
    Thank you.

  • annie

    Thank you for your words of courage , love , honesty and strength. Thank you for the sweet touch of a shared recipe ; a simple gesture , like an arm around the shoulders of a friend in need of contact. I was a little lost today , you helped..

  • All I have to say is WOW!

  • you are such a beautiful writer. you inspire me.

  • Krystal

    New reader, here. Your post is exactly what I need right now. Thank you for sharing.

  • Amy

    Just beautiful. xx

  • This is so inexpressibly beautiful. You have no idea how big of a positive impact this post has had on me. Thank you. No, really. Thank you.

    xoxo

    Sophie

  • I have loved your writing ever since I stumbled upon your blog and while I definitely come here for the beautiful photos and delicious recipes, it is also your writing that pulls me back to this space of yours time and time again.

    You have a way with words that is incredible – this post feels so honest, so raw, but also so compassionate and uplifting. Your sentence about all of us deserving the sun, the moon and all of the stars really got to me, in a good way. It is such a simple truth and something I know we all wish our loved ones but what I think we sometimee forget in this is that we, too, deserve the sun, the moon and all the stars. And I needed to hear that, to not stop dreaming and to not give up even though being an adult can be so crappy sometimes (something noone ever told me when I was a kid!).

  • tina

    oh. you did it again…
    what a friend you are.
    what a great friend.

  • Elizabeth

    Joining others in saying, I needed these words today. I think we all do, once in awhile. I often forget what power such simple words can have: I love you. You are worthy. You are beautiful.

  • You have such a way of letting people know they aren’t alone in this world. Thanks Kelsey :)

    oh, and thanks for this amazing ice cream, too!

  • Kelsey, every single one of your posts is a complete work of art.

  • Damn good post.

  • Thanks, Kelsey. I needed that.

  • I was looking for a unique way to cook figs, this is perfect! It looks delicious :) Thanks for taking the time out to make this!

  • I drooled a lil bit looking at your blog. And with such pretty pictures, It inspires me to go try some of these in the kitchen! You should post these on pinterest!
    ~Kat | Poshbykat.com

  • your blog is stunning! So glad I came across it

  • What a gorgeously written, beautifully photographed blog you have here. I am in love. :-)

  • Melissa

    I have been reading your blog for some time now, and inevitably what you have to say is beautiful and speaks to me in some way. I’ve been sitting here this evening, through tears trying to figure out how to express my sadness. It is national suicide prevention day, and next week marks the fourth anniversary of my cousins suicide. I’m reading this post for the first time today, and feeling as though this could be spoken directly to her, in a better time, before things got so bad.
    Thank you for always being honest and vulnerable in the things that matter so much, as that alone helps so many people.

  • The absolutely most beautiful letter I have set my eyes on in a very very long time. I am enchanted and my thoughts and memories are wandering right now – and I love this!! Thank you, that was a very intense and wonderful experience to read what you wrote!

  • Gosh this looks gorgeous! I am a HUGE fig fan, a HUGE toffee, caramelised sticky sugar fan and a HUGE ice cream fan. Three wonderful things brought together beautiful photographs (as per usual) thank you for sharing keep the great recipes-a-coming! x

    http://www.wanderlustandbake.co.uk

  • This is truly decadent!

  • Amazing recipe! Love the sticky gooey caramelized figs in this ice cream! YUM!

  • Thank you for your sincere and honest words and stories. They always inspire and reach deep, and they always seem to come at the right time. I’m sitting in Beijing now at the end of a wonderful trip. I return to New York tomorrow and am sharing so many of these feelings of vulnerability and uncertainty about what is to come. Your writing is beautiful. Thank you for reminding me to breathe.

  • I love you recipes. but sometimes the stories and words steal the show. I am sitting here at work just lingering on each sentence, slightly teary eyed, thinking how much I really needed to read this post. Thank you for sharing.

  • Thank you so much for these words, I really needed this right now. This is the first blog to have moved me like this.

  • Aeron

    (whispers…) Thank you…

  • Aeron

    PS: Best wishes too!

  • rebecca

    The ice cream is delicious. My two young boys-five and six-found it difficult or unappealing to have such large fig pieces. Next time I will chop them up smaller…not sure if they would just clump together anyway, but I will attempt to appease them. The caramelizing takes over the whole ice cream and gives it a rich caramel-y flavor. If you like caramelized figs, try this recipe, it’s broken into two:
    http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/campfire-glazed-peaches-figs-50400000129343/
    http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/olive-oil-cake-summer-fruit-50400000129342/

  • Kim

    My best friend in the whole world has struggled with addiction for several years now. She has come so far, worked so hard, and continues to battle every day. And she is getting better. But often, she finds herself in a pit of self-loathing that destroys all of the work and good she has done in her life. I hope you don’t mind, I shared this with my friend. Because this is exactly how I feel about her. And I want her to remember that there will be a time when she looks back on this struggle and will finally understand why she had to go through it.

    I keep reading this post over and over again, thinking about my sweet friend. I hope after reading this, she understands as deeply as I did how much she is loved. Thank you for sharing these words so that my friend can hear them.

  • Yours words always have such a profound way of striking home with me.

    Thank you for every single word, photo and post.

  • Made this super delicious ice-cream yesterday with fat, ripe figs from the garden (which the birds had kindly left us). Left out the egg yolks and nuts (allergic) and added scraped out vanilla pod to the milk mix.
    Very much enjoyed your way with words and your kind thoughts.

  • This still remains my favorite post of all time. Revisited it today because I’m thinking about making some fig ice cream and I’m curious about the pink salt. I use curing salt all the time with meat to preserve color and prevent bacteria growth, does it help preserve the color of the figs in the ice cream here? Or am I just being dumb and you actually mean himalayan pink salt? Would love to know!
    ps, you’re the best.
    Love,
    Cara

  • M.

    I found this blog literally an hour ago, and I have absolutely no idea who you are, but this post made me cry like a baby. I so needed this today… Lately I’ve been struggling with where I am (physically, mentally, and spiritually). I have no idea what I’m doing with my life, and what I want to do is facing serious opposition and I am scared silly. I don’t know why I’m saying all this, but basically, thank you for writing this sweet breath of fresh air. Thank you for making me feel better, even if just for a few hours. You are appreciated.

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Let's get in Touch

I wish I could make coffee dates with you all. In the meantime, feel free to drop me a line with questions, comments, concerns, or just to say Hi. I like that. There is nothing more uplifting than an email from a a fresh contact or kindred spirit.

I can be reached through this contact form and at happyolks [at] gmail [dot] com.