Saturday, September 18, 2010

Sweet Basil Ice Cream with Strawberries in Balsamic Syrup

A massive basil plant resides in my backyard, growing faster than its leaves can be consumed. I wanted to take advantage of this abundant fresh herb as much as possible so I began searching for recipes - capreses, pestos, sauces, herb spreads galore - but then, then I stumbled across basil ice cream. Studying physics all these years must have made me gravitate towards the most nonintuitive recipe. I took a quantum leap of faith and set out to make an herb dessert.
I'm glad I did. This ice cream is sweet with a kick of flavor. I can't say that if you don't like basil, you will like this recipe, but the basil is not the only dominant flavor. Spoon after spoon of creamy, sweet ice cream, you are ever so much happier that you dropped the pasta sauce seasoning into your ice cream maker.
To make matters even more untraditional, I concocted a sweet balsamic reduction and marinated strawberries in it. We all know ice cream and strawberries go together like basil and balsamic, but the two couples are a double date made in heaven. So treat yourself, and your stomach, to this delicious treat.

Sweet Basil Ice Cream
adapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
pinch of salt
5 large egg yolks
the zest of one lemon

Grind the basil leaves, sugar, and 1 cup of the cream in a blender until the leaves are as fine as possible.
Pour half of the mixture into a large bowl and add the other cup of cream. Place the bowl in an ice bath and place a strainer above the bowl.

Warm the rest of the mixture in a saucepan with the milk and salt. In another bowl, whisk the egg yolk. Slowly pour the warmed basil mixture into the egg yolks a little at a time while continuously whisking. Pour the egg yolk mixture back into the saucepan and constantly stir over medium heat. Scrape the bottom of the pan as you stir until the mixture thickens and coats the back of the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. Stir until cool. Pour the custard into a quart-sized container and place in the refrigerator overnight.

Freeze according to your ice cream manufacturer's instructions.
Serve (with strawberries in balsamic syrup, perhaps - recipe follows!).

Balsamic Syrup
1 cup aged balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 pint strawberries, cut to your fancy
squeeze of lemon juice

Reduce the balsamic vinegar, sugar, and lemon juice over low heat for about 10 minutes. Let cool.
Transfer to a bowl with cut strawberries, and let sit in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Pour over ice cream.  Enjoy.
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  1. Hey Meghan! I used to work at a restaurant that made vanilla basil ice cream-it's my favorite. Yours looks wonderful, and I never would have thought to pair it with strawberries. Lovely!

  2. Thanks, Stella! I had never tried it before making it, so I was happily surprised :)


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