Basil Ice Cream

My husband, Steve, is the best. I make mistakes, and sometimes I’m a big doofus. And yet, he loves me anyway. We’ve been married for almost three years but it feels like I’ve known and loved him always, and I wouldn’t choose anyone else to spend the rest of my life with.

Steve has been extra patient with me recently and so when he asked if I would make him some basil ice cream, I couldn’t say no. We were treated to some amazing basil gelato at a small event organized by The Vintage Mixer at Vinto pizzeria here in Salt Lake City. It was presented with a sampling of other gelato flavors and Steve was alone in singling out the basil and happily lapped up the majority of it. And he’s been talking about it ever since.

I don’t blame him, really. The gelato’s flavor was clean and bright, only slightly sweet and bursting with basil. He’s the kind of person that prefers the savory to sweet (I couldn’t be more opposite) and so this is his perfect dessert. It’s in dishes like this that our tastes collide.

Our barrel herb garden that we planted this spring has flourished, particularly the boxwood basil that I bought on impulse from the nursery. The small plant with dainty leaves that I started with has expanded to an almost obnoxious bush. It may look different but it’s just as aromatic as regular basil.

Once the boxwood basil is blended together with sugar and cream, thickened with egg yolks, and brightened with a pinch of lemon zest, you can’t tell any difference. For those of us that love basil (and I’m assuming that’s pretty much everybody), this is a wonderfully refreshing alternative to more traditional ice cream flavors like chocolate and vanilla.

And since it uses a seasonal ingredient that you might have growing in your back yard, or could easily find at your local farmer’s market, it just screams summer to me. When the leaves have fallen from the trees and snow covers the ground, it will be dishes like this that I’ll think of and long for.

So in honor of Steve, and summer, I leave you with the recipe and hope that you don’t take anything for granted— warm weather, the fresh bounty of the season, and most of all, the ones you love.

You might enjoy other ice creams with unusual flavors:
Avocado Ice Cream by Two Peas and their Pod
Guinness-Milk Chocolate Ice Cream by Brown Eyed Baker
Candied Bacon Ice Cream by David Lebovitz
Honey Sage Ice Cream by The Cilantropist

Basic Ice Cream
From The Perfect Scoop
Makes about 1 quart
Print this recipe

1 cup packed basil leaves
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
Pinch of salt
5 egg yolks
1 lemon

Use a food processor to grind the basil leaves with the sugar and one cup of the heavy cream, until the leaves are ground as fine as possible. Pour half of the mixture through a strainer into a large bowl. Add the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream.

Heat the other half of the basil mixture in a saucepan along with the whole milk and salt over medium heat. In another bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. When the basil mixture is steaming, slowly pour into the egg yolks while whisking constantly. Return the mixture back into the saucepan.

Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about five minutes. Pour the custard through the strainer into the bowl with the cream mixture. Zest the lemon directly into the custard, then cool over an ice bath while stirring.

Chill completely, then freeze in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Let harden in the freezer for a few hours before serving.