Makes about 1 1/2 quarts
This velvet-textured ice cream has a wonderful taste of basil and leaves a delightful perfume lingering on the palate. It can also be prepared with anise basil or cinnamon basil.
• 2 cups milk
• 2 cups whipping cream
• 1 cup sugar
• 1/2 cup packed whole basil leaves
• 6 extra-large egg yolks
• 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, broken into pieces
• 6 ounces good semisweet chocolate, broken into pieces
1. Combine the milk with 1 cup of the whipping cream, sugar, and basil in a 2-quart, heavy-bottomed nonreactive saucepan. Bruise the leaves against the side of the pan with a wooden spoon. Bring the contents of the pan to a simmer; remove from heat. Cover, and let the herbs steep in the liquid for 30 minutes.
2. Strain the infused cream through a sieve, pressing on the herb leaves to extract their essence. Return the infused cream to the pan, reserving about 1 cup. Lightly whisk the eggs in a small bowl. Add about half of the reserved cup of cream to the eggs and whisk. Add the remaining cream and whisk again. Whisk the egg and cream mixture into the saucepan and gently reheat the infused cream over low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the custard lightly coats a metal spoon, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
3. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or microwave. Whisk about a quarter of the melted chocolate into the custard. Add the rest of the chocolate to the custard in three parts. (Adding the chocolate gradually keeps the custard from becoming grainy.)
4. Strain the cream mixture into a bowl and cool it to room temperature. (Putting the bowl into another, larger bowl full of ice will speed this step.) Stir in the remaining 1 cup whipping cream. Pour into an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions.
5. This ice cream is best served the day it’s made, but it will keep in the freezer for up to two weeks. For the best flavor, do not serve it rock hard; allow it to stand at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes so that it softens slightly.
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