Ok, hear me out.
It's summer. I just got a new mixer with an ice cream attachment (thanks mom!). And I love basil. It's spicy and sweet and so aromatic. When we moved into our new house, starting an herb garden was one of the first things I wanted to do. Sadly, we got a bit of a late start since it was already June, but our mint is growing like a weed, our rosemary isn't dead yet, but (sadly) our basil is already flowering (which Dan tells me is a sign that it's the beginning of the end).
I really wanted to take advantage of our fresh basil as much as possible, and since I can't eat pasta every day of the week for fear that my ass would expand exponentially, ice cream was the next logical step.
Hmm, I should probably work on that logic. Whatever. It's hot and ice cream is like edible air conditioning.
I've tried basil ice cream before, and it tasted like frozen pesto. Now I love pesto, but it's not really what I'm looking for when my sweet tooth is aching for some sugar. Plus, big fresh basil leaves can sometimes have that overpowering flavor of licorice. Not a fan.
But, in this ice cream, instead of blending the basil leaves and incorporating them directly into the custard, I use my basic ice cream base and infuse heavy cream with the herb so the end result is subtle and sweet, flowery, herbal and aromatic. Personally, I think this is best served as an accompaniment to a fruity baked dessert, like blueberry cobbler or mixed berry pie.
Who am I kidding. I eat this straight from the container while standing in front of the open freezer. It's hot and we don't have central air. Don't judge.
Basil Ice Cream
Makes about 3 pints
1 quart heavy cream
1 cup granulated sugar
8 egg yolks
3 stalks sweet basil, leaves and stems
1. In a heavy-bottomed sauce pot over medium to medium-low heat*, combine heavy cream, half the sugar, and basil leaves and stems. Bring to a boil.
2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks and remaining sugar.
3. Once the cream has come to a boil, remove from the heat and carefully remove the basil. Working about 1/4 cup at a time, add a third of the hot cream to the egg yolks, whisking to incorporate.
4. Whisk the yolk mixture back into the pot with the remaining heavy cream. Return to low heat.
5. Using a wooden spoon, stir mixture constantly until it thickens. Timing for this will vary; use a low heat, and be careful not to let the mixture boil again. Your custard is ready when it coats the back of the wooden spoon and you can create a definitive line down the center with your finger.
6. Strain the custard into a bowl set over an ice bath (you can later transfer it to the fridge). Allow to cool completely.
7. Process in an ice cream machine until it is the texture of soft serve. Transfer to a sealed airtight container and place it in the freezer to set fully, about 4-6 hours or overnight.
*Don't be tempted to turn the cream up to high to get it to boil. It won't heat evenly and the cream on the bottom will burn before it boils. Watch carefully, and use a pot large enough to ensure it doesn't boil over.