Ice Cream Flavor of the Week: Sweet Basil Ice Cream

Recipe #263

No figs at the farmers’ market again. That’s okay, I’ve discovered heaven on earth and it has come from the last place I expected it. I’ve been adding fresh basil to everything this summer. It’s only $1 for a big bunch at the farmers’ market. Sometimes I can use it all up before it spoils–usually when I make pesto. I needed to find a more creative way to use the fresh basil before it went bad.

Luckily, David Lebovitz has a recipe for Basil Ice Cream in his book The Perfect Scoop. I was apprehensive about making it, but I thought “what the heck” and made it anyway. I am so glad I did. I tasted it at every stage: when I made the custard, fresh out of the ice cream machine, and completely frozen. The taste is pure euphoria. Every stage tasted good, but it got better as it aged. The end result is an ice cream with a subtle basil taste that blends well the taste of the cream and sugar.

Pairing the ice cream with Strawberries in Lemon Syrup as suggested in the book is beyond euphoric: Words. Cannot. Explain. I urge you all to make this ice cream. This is now my favorite ice cream.

Basil Ice Cream

Adapted from The Perfect Scoop.
  • 1 cup (25 grams) packed basil leaves
  • 3/4 cup (150 grams) sugar
  • 2 cups (500 ml) heavy cream  (I use the not ultra-pasteurized heavy cream from Trader Joe’s; it’s the only place I’ve found that sells this type.)
  • 1 cup (250 ml) whole milk
  • Pinch of salt
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1 lemon, organic

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 rest of the cream. Place a strainer above the bowl. Place the bowl in an ice bath.

Warm the rest of the mixture in a saucepan  with the milk and salt. In another bowl, whisk the the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warmed basil mixture into the egg yolks a little at a time while continously whisking. Pour the egg yolks back into the saucepan.

Constantly stir the mixture over medium heat. Scrape the bottom 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. Zest the lemon directly into the mixture. Stir the custard until cool.

Pour the custard into a quart size container and place until the refrigerator overnight (preferably). Freeze according to your ice cream manufacturer’s instructions. Yummy! Do not eat in one sitting.  😛

Strawberries in Lemon Syrup

Adapted from The Perfect Scoop.
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1 pound strawberries, hulled and quartered

Combine water, sugar, and zest in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Cool completely. Once cooled, pour syrup over strawberries and let the strawberries macerate for 1 to 3 hours.

Dish the strawberries into a bowl and scoop basil ice cream on top.