I had a very serious conversation with the family at Easter dinner… About our favorite ice cream flavors. It seems every human being is obligated to have one, but if you asked me about my mom’s go-to, I really wouldn’t know. Turns out, she doesn’t know either, and none of us has a definitive one, really–what might have been a simple Q&A in other families became us just naming flavors. Yeah… I’m related to these people.
I should also add that we were eating ice cream. Before eating cake. Again–these people are definitely my people.
However, I think my maybe-favorite, the one I would pick if you held a gun to my head (which you wouldn’t do, because that’s dumb) is mint chip. There is so much to like: the freshness, the balance of sweet with bitter dark chocolate, the crunch… I am a fan.
But why don’t we branch out today? You may not think of basil as dessert-appropriate, but why not? Mint is only used in desserts because we’re used to it. There are so many other green, fragrant, delightful things that grow in the dirt on our planet. Let’s play with them.
Assemble your essentials! I had extra egg yolks from an unsuccessful pavlova situation. Turns out, ice cream is what I wanted all along anyway. Yeah… That’s it.
First, we infuse warm milk, sugar and cream with a generous amount of basil. Poke it all over with a wooden spoon, cover, leave it be for an hour or so.
It wilts and shrinks a lot! Squeeze out whatever’s left, discard. Now you have sweet basil cream/milk.
Warm it up again, then carefully incorporate egg yolks. Cook until you have a thick, bubbly (not necessarily glamorous) situation. Then, add the rest of the cream, mix and chill well.
The next day (ideally) churn in your ice cream maker, add chocolate chunks and freeze!
I think you’d like this, I really do. If you’re hesitant though, feel free to sub the basil for mint (this is an adapted mint chip recipe, after all), or use a combination of both. But really, spring is here, it’s a great time to experiment, etc., so I’m definitely putting this into your “strong suggestion” box. Okay? Okay.
Basil Chip Ice Cream
(adapted from David Lebovitz)
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cups heavy cream
Pinch of salt
2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
5 egg yolks
3-4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
Warm the milk, sugar, one cup of the cream, salt and basil in a medium saucepan until the mixture is steaming, then remove from heat and cover. Let it stand for an hour or so.
Strain the mixture and squeeze all moisture out of the basil and discard it. Pour the remaining cup of cream into a medium bowl and set a strainer on top. Rewarm the basil-infused mixture over medium-low heat.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks, then slowly whisk in about a cup of the warm milk mixture. Once incorporated, add the egg yolk mixture to the saucepan and stir. Continue cooking the custard, stirring constantly with a spatula or wooden spoon, until the mixture thickens enough to coat the spatula or spoon.
Cook the custard, stirring constantly with a heatproof spatula, until the mixture is bubbly and thick enough to coat the spoon/spatula. Pour the mixture through the strainer into the remaining cream, stir well, let it cool, then cover and chill for a few hours or overnight.
When the mixture is completely chilled, churn it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Stir in the chocolate chunks, cover and freeze until firm. Makes about 1 quart.