this ice cream is delicious – so delicious, in fact, that i may never make it again. can’t. keep. spoon. out.
a few years ago i made an ice cream with thai basil; i believe that version was nectarine and thai basil. i just made a nectarine ice cream base, threw in some chopped thai basil, and called it good. and it was, you know, good. but it wasn’t amazing.
more recently, i got another idea for an ice cream involving thai basil and fruit (full idea here!). this time i wanted the ice cream flavor to be just thai basil though, no fruit in the ice cream. and i wanted it to be amazing, not just good.
let me pause here and tell you that many times when i make ice cream, i end up with oddly flavored scrambled eggs (ginger scrambled eggs anyone?). why heating up the ingredients that we want to turn into frozen ice cream is a good idea has never been clear to me…
so clearly step one of thai basil ice cream v2.0 involved finding a recipe base that did not involve eggs. aside from not being able to produce scrambled eggs if there are no eggs in the first place, i actually just don’t like custard base ice cream. i was quite pleased to find this recipe – no eggs! semi-famous! published in a schmancy magazine! what could go wrong?!
right, so, apparently by “boil”, what the recipe meant was either, a) DO NOT LET IT COME TO A BOIL or (and??) b) i am not meant to make ice cream. i ended up with basically the opposite of scrambled eggs: “ice cream” that after processing through the ice cream maker was still just cold soup. very delicious cold soup though!
buoyed by the deliciousness, i decided to move forward on 2 parallel tracks.
track 1: do over, without getting the troublemaker (aka the stove) involved at all. no eggs = no need to worry about raw eggs = no need for the stove!
track 2: since this creamy cold soup was soooo delicious, i wanted to see if i could still salvage this round (yes, it really was that good. also, in a past life, i was a WWII housewife with a victory garden who was super thrifty and crafty when it came to using my family’s rations of sugar and butter.). so, thinking of all of those frozen-banana-in-the-food-processor recipes that are flying around the interwebs, i poured my cold soup into an ice cream cube tray and popped it in the freezer.
once the cubes had frozen solid, i dumped them into the food processor and hit go. i let it run for about 30 seconds until there weren’t any more cubes flying around inside and then stopped the machine. i was all set to be excited about having created a way for folks who don’t own an ice cream maker to enjoy homemade ice cream! at this point, it may have already occurred to some of you that there is, in fact, a somewhat important difference between bananas and heavy cream and that is this: bananas at room temperature are solid and heavy cream at room temperature is… a liquid. fail. total fail. when i took the lid off the food processor, i was greeted with a bowl full of cold soup. in other words, exactly what i had before. tasty. delicious. liquid.
aaaaand back to track 1! since i wasn’t going to be destroying heating the cream/milk, i figured that i should give the thai basil more time to steep to make sure the flavor was as good as in the soup version. i poured the cream into a bowl with a lid, added the thai basil, and put it in the fridge for 24 hours. since i had to freeze the ice cream maker base anyway, this wasn’t a huge inconvenience.
once the cream/thai basil was done steeping, i strained it and then added the rest of the ingredients (see the recipe below – and DO NOT skip the cream cheese! it totally makes the flavor go from good to All The Spoons – Now!). i poured the mixture into the ice cream maker, crossed my fingers, and turned the machine on. half an hour later, i was filling a container with beautiful soft serve, ready to go into the freezer for its final freeze. (by which i mean, eating half of the ice cream and trying to get at least some of it into the freezer for my next recipe.) so delicious and so worth it! and so never making it again (for at least a week/until i forget that i am powerless to resist its allure…).
enjoy, friends. and please tell me i’m not the only one who has made scrambled eggs instead of ice cream??
- 2 cups cold whole milk
- 1 1/4 cups cold heavy cream
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2 T light corn syrup
- 3 T cream cheese, softened
- 1 1/2 cups thai basil, washed and patted dry, then cut into thin ribbons
- if your ice cream maker has a bowl that must be frozen, put that in the freezer.
- pour the heavy cream into a bowl with a lid. add the thai basil ribbons. cover and refrigerate for 24 hours to allow the cream to absorb the thai basil flavor.
- when the cream is ready, set a large colander over a large bowl. pour the cream/thai basil mixture through the colander. discard the thai basil.
- put the cream cheese and a 1/2 cup of milk in the blender and blend briefly until smooth.
- to the bowl with the cream, add the cream cheese mixture and the remaining ingredients. whisk until smooth.
- pour the mixture into your frozen ice cream maker bowl and process according to the manufacturer’s directions. i ran it through my machine for 30 minutes. if you have a thermometer, you want the base to reach 21° F (or colder).
- once ready, transfer the soft ice cream to a storage container and freeze until desired consistency is reached.
if you are using a canister-style ice cream maker, be sure to let the empty canister chill in the freezer for at least 24 and ideally 48 hours before you put it to use making delicious treats.
while the canister is freezing, you can also infuse the cream (step 2). once those two things are done, the ice cream itself doesn't take that long to make (about 15 minutes active time + about 30 minutes processing in the ice cream maker, depending on your machine).
ice cream base adapted from jeni’s ice cream base published in saveur.
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