16 May 2022

Anna Higham’s ricotta ice cream with magnolia syrup

Anna Higham’s ricotta ice cream with magnolia syrup

“This is one of the prettiest dishes I’ve made,” says Anna Higham. “The ricotta ice cream provides a delicate sweet-savoury base to showcase the gingery spice of the liquor.

“It has enough body from the high percentage of ricotta to provide textural contrast to the thin syrup even as it melts.”

She recommends a buttery, gently peppery olive oil for this recipe.

Ricotta ice cream with magnolia syrup


For the ricotta ice cream: (makes 800ml)
150g caster sugar
500g fresh ricotta
25ml lemon juice
Small pinch of salt

For the magnolia syrup: (makes 1L)
150g caster sugar
100g (2–3) magnolia flowers
7g (1tsp) citric acid

To serve:
A small pinch of Maldon salt
Magnolia petals
1tsp extra virgin olive oil


1. To make the magnolia syrup; combine the sugar with 750ml of water in a saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil over a medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. When the syrup is boiling, add the whole magnolia flowers. Return to a rolling boil and add the citric acid. Immediately transfer to a shallow container then chill over ice or in the fridge. I like to leave the flowers in the syrup as they have a pleasingly ethereal quality. Store chilled.

2. To make the ricotta ice cream; combine the sugar with 150ml of water in a saucepan, whisk well and place over a medium heat. Stir occasionally until the sugar is completely dissolved, leave to cool then chill thoroughly.

3. Once the syrup is completely chilled, add the lemon juice, then blend in the ricotta until it is smooth and season with a little salt. Churn in an ice-cream machine then transfer to a container and leave to set in the freezer before serving.

4. To assemble the dish; place a small bowl in the freezer to chill 30 minutes before serving. Scoop a large quenelle of ricotta ice cream into the chilled bowl and place just off-centre. Sprinkle on some Maldon salt and lay one or two magnolia petals beside the ice cream. Combine the magnolia syrup (two tablespoons) and olive oil (they will remain split). Pour the syrup and oil into the bowl next to the ice cream.

The Last Bite: A Whole New Approach To Making Desserts Through
The Year by Anna Higham, photography by Kim Lightbody, is published by DK, priced £22. Available now.

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