When thinking about new ice cream flavors, I am often inspired by the foods and ingredients around me. Several of my previous flavors were inspired by favorite desserts (such as King Cake or Toasted Coconut ice cream) or favorite flavor combinations (Blood Orange Sorbet with Star Anise). My most recent creation was inspired by the mound of basil I had growing out of my indoor AeroGarden. If you have ever grown basil, you know how fast it can take off. I started clipping it and storing it in water on the counter top, trying to think of something to do with it other than make pesto. Then it came to me! I remembered reading about herbed flavored ice creams in one of my favorite ice cream books. I found a recipe for Basil Ice Cream, jotted down a few ideas to make the recipe my own, and went for it.
The results were excellent! The striking anise flavor of the basil, sweetened with sugar, and balanced by a bit of lemon made for a very light and refreshing scoop of ice cream. The original recipe suggested serving the ice cream over macerated strawberries with lemon…amazing combination. The best part of preparing dessert in this way was that I was able to use local strawberries (they are now in season in Louisiana). Basil ice cream is probably one of my favorite flavors so far. Enjoy!
Basil Ice Cream
Makes 1 quart
I experimented with guar gum and xanthan gum to achieve a nice texture in this ice cream, however the addition of these ingredients is not necessary. Add 3 Tablespoons of cream cheese to the base to help improve the scoop-ability.
2 cups (500 ml) whole milk
1 cup (250 ml) heavy cream
1 cup packed basil leaves (25 g)
3/4 cup cane sugar (150 g)
1/8 cup (30 ml) corn syrup
1 small lemon
Pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon guar gum
1/8 teaspoon xanthan gum
Place basil, sugar, and 1 cup (250 ml) milk in a blender and pulse until smooth and basil leaves are very fine. Strain half of the mixture through a fine mesh sieve and return mixture to the blender (this step is used to take out some of the basil leaves but not all of them). Zest lemon directly over blender. Add corn syrup and salt and blend. Add remaining milk and cream; pulse to combine. Turn blender on low and gradually add guar gum and xanthan gum (adding slowly will prevent clumping). Blend until well combined. Pour ice cream mixture into a non-reactive bowl and place in refrigerator until completely chilled, about 2-3 hours.
Once chilled, pour ice cream base into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Pack the ice cream into a plastic container when finished. Press a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the ice cream (to prevent ice crystals) and close with an airtight lid. Freeze until firm, at least 4 hours. For best results, serve over strawberries in lemon syrup (see below).
Strawberries in Lemon Syrup
Combine 1 cup (250 ml) water and 1/4 cup (50 g) sugar with the grated zest of 1 lemon in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook, until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat, pour into a bowl, and chill thoroughly. Hull and quarter 1 pound (450 g) of strawberries. Add them to the lemon syrup and let macerate in the refrigerator for 1 to 4 hours. To serve, spoon the strawberries and some lemon syrup into shallow bowls and float a scoop of Basil Ice Cream in the center.