Fresh Basil Ice Cream

Basil Ice Cream
Basil Ice Cream
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Basil ice cream is a lovely way to celebrate this captivating summer herb.

Basil ice cream is one of these ice cream flavours which are easy to pass. Because, seriously, in a world full of exciting ice cream flavours, why should one choose basil? 

Basil ice cream is an ice cream so special, that every ice cream connoisseur should experience at least once in their lifetime. It is utterly refreshing; and a lovely way to celebrate this captivating summer herb. I insist that you should aim to make it in summer, for it is basil grown outdoors under the sun which brims with essential oils.

And if this is not enough, let me give you one more good reason, which is to experience one of the most exciting flavour pairings: basil ice cream with dark chocolate. For example, do try basil ice cream on a piece of brownie. The moment the spoonful reaches your taste buds, you will be amazed that you are going through this utterly unique sensation. Or try making a basil ice cream pop covered in a dark chocolate shell. Or simply pair basil ice cream with some chocolate ice cream. And you will be instantly hooked. 

Fresh Basil Ice Cream
  • Special equipment: ice cream maker
  • Yields: 1.3 litre/quart
  • Prep: 20 mins.
  • Total: 12-18 hrs
Ingredients:
  • Ingredients notes

For best results, use a scale and measure the ingredients directly into the utensils, when you need them.

Avoid weighing in one utensil and transferring to another, as this causes a small, but important loss of quantity, especially in liquids.

To get the best basil flavour into this ice cream, use summer-grown fresh basil, the kind which captivates your nostrils at your local farmer’s market when you walk right next to it.

Sure, you can use the kind which is sold in plastic containers at the super market, just keep in mind that this has been left hanging about there for a while and might not be able to give you the same level of basil-ness as the one picked and brought to you in just a few hours.

White chocolate is the magic ingredient which reduces the need for egg yolks; something very much appreciated in this recipe, as the egg yolks tend to mask the delicate fresh basil’s flavours.

Only real white chocolate will do; this means that it should have the following ingredients listed on the packaging:

– cocoa butter (NOT palm oil or other vegetable oil)

– sugar (NOT sweeteners, stevia, etc)

– milk powder

– an emulsifier (such as lecithin)

Depending on the part of the world you live in, this is sometimes labeled as “white chocolate couverture”.

Also, check the nutrition label on the packaging: the sugars should be around 55 gr per 100 gr of white chocolate. If the white chocolate you have has more sugars than this, feel free to contact me, sending me the nutrition facts of your white chocolate, to make any adjustments, if needed.

Regular white sugar or a good quality raw cane sugar such as Demerara are the best options for this recipe.

DO NOT use sugar substitutes, such as table sweeteners or stevia. Also, do not use confectioner’s sugar, it is not suitable for this recipe. 

For best results, use heavy cream with 35% fat percentage.

Do not use lower fat versions, or else the custard may not whip.

Do not use any kind of non-dairy cream. 

  • Tips for success

A rubber, flexible spatula is useful for:

-wiping the bottom of the saucepan when cooking dairy on the stovetop

-scraping residues which would be otherwise left behind in bowls, saucepans etc.

If you do not have one, I strongly encourage you to buy one, preferring a flexible one.

Fact: When you boil milk, it curdles. 

To boil milk with sugar, gently warm it over medium heat, stirring often to ensure that the sugar is completely dissolved; then you can raise the heat and bring it to a boil. If the milk boils before all the sugar has dissolved, it will cuddle.

Using a saucepan with a long handle in step 1 is useful for pouring with ease the boiling cream with one hand, while whisking the eggs vigorously with the other.

Bonus tip: put a towel under the bowl with the eggs, to keep it in place. 

Instructions

Before starting, make sure that your ice cream maker is ready for churning when needed. This means that if it has a removable freezer bowl, it should be put in the freezer for the whole time indicated by the manufacturer, usually 24 hours.

Step 1: Preparation

Put the white chocolate in a medium-sized, heatproof bowl and melt over a saucepan with simmering water, stirring constantly. Take care the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. 

Remove the bowl from the heat and set aside.

In a large heatproof bowl, put the cold egg yolks and whisk lightly to break them down. Put them back in the fridge to keep them cold, leaving the whisk in the bowl to have it ready.

Put the basil leaves and sugar in a medium-sized saucepan and massage well with your fingertips, scrubbing the sugar against the basil leaves for 2-3 minutes. Set a timer, do not shortcut.
Step 2: Prepare the custard

Add the 250 gr milk and the lemon peel into the saucepan with the basil leaves and sugar.

Warm the milk over medium heat, stirring often until the milk is hot and steamy and all the sugar has melted.

Increase the heat to medium-high; when the first bubbles (soft boil) appear on the surface of the milk, remove the egg yolks from the fridge and set them next to the stovetop.

As soon as the milk bubbles vigorously (full boil), remove it from the heat and immediately start pouring it in a steady stream into the egg yolks with one hand, while whisking them vigorously with the other.
Important: While the custard is still hot, use a spatula to thoroughly scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, where residues of egg yolk lie. You cannot see them, but they are there and they should be incorporated into the rest of the mixture, while it is still hot. Stir well.

Add the remaining 150 gr milk and the heavy cream and stir to combine.

Step 3: Blend and cool the ice cream mixture

Add the custard into the melted white chocolate, a little at a time, stirring well after each addition.

Put the bowl with the ice cream mixture over an ice bath to cool it down to room temperature, about 45 minutes.

Optional: if colouring the ice cream, first dilute the colour paste in a tiny glass, adding one teaspoon of custard at a time until the colour is fully dilluted. Mix well to dissolve, then gradually add this to the rest of the custard. The colour of the final ice cream will be 2 shades lighter after churning, so aim for no more than 2 shades darker than the desired colour.

Pass the ice cream mixture through a fine mesh sieve and into a blender. Blend for 2 minutes.

Thoroughly chill the ice cream mixture by choosing one of the methods below:

Refrigerate for 12 hours and up to 3 days, stored in an airtight container.

Pour the basil ice cream mixture in a sealable bag. Place the bag in a large container under lots of ice. Leave for 3-4 hours to thoroughly chill.

Before churning, check if the ice cream mixture is thoroughly cold:

• an instant-read thermometer in the ice cream mixture should read 4ºC – 8ºC (39ºF-46ºF).

• if no thermometer is available, check with your index finger; the ice cream mixture should feel fridge-cold to the touch. 

If needed, add more ice and leave until thoroughly chilled.

Refrigerate for 12 hours and up to 3 days, stored in an airtight container.

Pour the basil ice cream mixture in a sealable bag. Place the bag in a large container under lots of ice. Leave for 3-4 hours to thoroughly chill.

Before churning, check if the ice cream mixture is thoroughly cold:

• an instant-read thermometer in the ice cream mixture should read 4ºC – 8ºC (39ºF-46ºF)..

• if no thermometer is available, check with your index finger; the ice cream mixture should feel fridge-cold to the touch. 

If needed, add more ice and leave until thoroughly chilled.

Step 4: Churn the ice cream mixture

Prepare the ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

With the machine running, pour the chilled ice cream mixture through the canister and into the ice cream machine. 

Churn until the basil ice cream is fluffed up and creamy. Depending on your ice cream maker, this may take up to 50-60 minutes.

Remove the removable freezer bowl filled with the ice cream from the ice cream machine, cover with a lid and put it the freezer for 3-4 hours to set.

After this, you can serve it directly from the removable freezer bowl or transfer it to an airtight container for longer storing.

Storage

In the freezer for one month, covered well to protect it from absorbing the freezer’s smells.

This basil ice cream, like all artisanal ice creams, freezes hard in the long term.

To soften it to a scoopable consistency, put it in the refrigerator for one hour. 

  • Recipe notes

Egg safety: You do not have to worry about eating raw eggs in this recipe. By pouring the right amount of boiling cream into the right amount of chilled egg yolks, while whisking vigorously, you bring the total mixture to a perfect 79º C (174º F). In order to do so, you need to use a scale and follow the measurements precisely.

 

  • Questions and answers

When churning with a domestic ice cream maker, your ice cream mixture should always be thoroughly chilled.

Otherwise, your ice cream maker may not be able to churn the ice cream to its fullest potential, resulting in a sloppy liquid vs. a fluffy coconut ice cream.

Straight after churning, the ice cream has a soft-serve consistency and melts immediately upon contact with anything. This makes it impossible to serve or transfer to another container.

Putting it directly in the freezer for 4-5 hours after churning, will help it set and reach the right consistency.

Then you can serve it or transfer to a sealable container for longer storing. 

  • Tips for success

A rubber, flexible spatula is useful for:

-wiping the bottom of the saucepan when cooking dairy on the stovetop

-scraping residues which would be otherwise left behind in bowls, saucepans etc.

If you do not have one, I strongly encourage you to buy one, preferring a flexible one.

Using a saucepan with a long handle in step 1 is useful for pouring with ease the boiling cream with one hand, while whisking the eggs vigorously with the other.

Bonus tip: put a towel under the bowl with the eggs, to keep it in place. 

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Sugar

  • regular sugar (white crystallised)
  • sweeteners