…for bizarre flavored ice cream!
I’m not sure exactly when so many wacky ice cream flavors emerged as a trendy business model, but I first became aware of these when a friend gave me a copy of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home. Some of Jeni’s flavors sound intriguing… Salty Caramel, Sweet Corn and Black Raspberry, Butter with Honey Hickory Pralines.
Others just sound wrong… Celery with Candied Ginger and Rum-Plumped Golden Raisins! Beet with Mascarpone Orange Zest and Poppy Seeds!
When the ice cream shop, Salt and Straw, turned up on Northwest 23rd Avenue in Portland, I joined many others in a long line for the taste experience. What sets them apart from your typical ice cream shop are their quirky, outside the box flavors that are made with local and organic ingredients. Flavors such as: Goat Cheese Marionberry Habanero, Raspberry Lemon Basil Sorbet, Pear with Bleu Cheese, and one they claimed is Oprah’s favorite, Arbequina Olive Oil. Once inside the small, retro-chic shop, customers wind through displays of vintage ice cream makers and supplies before arriving near the counter, where you are encouraged to sample before plunging into a full order. There really is no problem finding something incredible to suit your taste. Most of the flavors meld together much better than you’d expect.
Which brings me to this creamy, dreamy Strawberry/Basil delight I made a few weeks ago, but then I really couldn’t go wrong with these fabulous ingredients from my own garden… Oregon Hood strawberries, basil, and fresh eggs. You can regulate the basil flavor by soaking the leaves in the heated mixture more or less time. Personally, I loved the combination, but it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea.
Custom flavor creations are endless! Stick with a basic recipe, and add ingredients you like to create your own new favorites.
Strawberry Basil Ice Cream
This recipe is adapted from David Lebovitz’s formula for creating your own ice cream flavors.
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup tightly packed, coarsely torn basil leaves
5 large egg yolks
1 lb. fresh or frozen strawberries, trimmed
1/2 cup sugar
1-2 Tablespoons vodka (this was a suggestion from my friend Cathy at Wives with Knives) it keeps the fruit from becoming ice crystals in your otherwise creamy dessert.
• In the bowl of a food processor, add washed, trimmed strawberries, 1/2 cup sugar and 1-2 Tablespoons vodka and puree and set aside.
• In a medium saucepan, mix 1 cup of the cream with the milk, sugar, and a pinch of salt. Warm the cream mixture over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and tiny bubbles begin to form around the edge of the pan, 3 to 4 minutes.
• Stir in the basil leaves. Cover, remove from the heat, and let sit for 1 hour. Taste and let sit longer if you want a stronger basil flavor.
• Prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl with several inches of ice water. Set a smaller metal bowl (one that holds at least 1-1/2 quarts) in the ice water. Pour the remaining cup of cream into the inner bowl (this helps the custard cool quicker when you pour it in later). Set a fine strainer on top. Whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl.
• Rewarm the cream mixture over medium-high heat until tiny bubbles begin to form around the edge of the pan, 1 to 2 minutes. In a steady stream, pour half of the warm cream mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly to prevent the eggs from curdling.
• Pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heatproof rubber spatula until the custard thickens slightly (it should be thick enough to coat the spatula and hold a line drawn through it with a finger), 4 to 8 minutes. An instant-read thermometer should read 175° to 180°F at this point. Don’t let the sauce overheat or boil, or it will curdle. Immediately strain the custard into the cold cream in the ice bath. Press firmly on the basil leaves in the strainer with the spatula to extract as much flavor as possible.
• Cool the custard to below 70°F by stirring it over the ice bath. Stir the strawberry puree into the cooled custard.
NOTE: Refrigerate the custard until completely chilled, at least 4 hours. Then freeze the custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer the just-churned ice cream to an air-tight container, and freeze for at least 4 hours or up to 2 weeks.
A few other flavors from my collection…
Tell me… what’s your favorite ice cream flavor?