Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Strawberry Basil Ice Cream

In almost every childhood memory I have surrounding a summer holiday weekend, either my mother or grandmother made a batch of homemade ice cream for our family to enjoy and take relief from the Texas heat. As Robert and I discussed our Fourth of July plans this past weekend, I knew I wanted to make some homemade ice cream. I don't know that I even made the correlation to it being a Thrasher family tradition until after I was well into making this delicious summer treat.

I think what I like most about this ice cream recipe is how surprisingly well the flavors of strawberries and basil go together. I first encountered this pairing at Central Market during their Herb Festival last year and simply could not get the flavor out of my mind. So I did what one should do in such circumstances: search the internet for a recipe! After sifting through the search results, I came across this recipe in Fine Cooking magazine that, with a few changes, perfectly matched what I had in mind. It's creamy, fresh, sweet and certainly compelling.

Finally, according to several food blogs I read, July is apparently Ice Cream Month, so it's only natural that we post at least one homemade ice cream recipe here on A Thyme To Eat. Who knows, maybe the heat will inspire many more to come.

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Strawberry Basil Ice Cream

2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
3/4 cup sugar
Table salt
1 cup hand torn basil leaves
5 large egg yolks
1 pound fresh strawberries, trimmed and pureed

In a medium saucepan, combine 1 cup of the heavy cream,
 the milk (I used whole, because if you're going to indulge in ice cream, you oughta do it all the way),
 and a pinch of table salt.
Warm the mixture over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar is fully dissolved and tiny bubbles appear along the edge of the liquid, about 5 or so minutes.

Remove from the heat and add the basil leaves.
Stir and cover and let steep for about an hour. After an hour remove the basil leaves from the cream using a slotted or mesh spoon and discard.
In a large bowl, prepare a water bath of ice and water.
Set inside the bath a smaller bowl and pour the remaining heavy cream inside. Set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and set aside.
Reheat the cream mixture over medium heat for about 3 minutes. Carefully pour half the cream mixture into the egg yokes while whisking continuously to keep the eggs from curdling.
Pour the egg mixture into the remaining cream mixture and cook over low heat, stirring constantly until the custard thickens slightly, about 10 minutes.
Be sure not to let the mixture boil or overheat or the eggs will curdle and ruin the custard.

Pour the custard into bowl with the cream in the ice bath and stir to cool the mixture and end the cooking process.

While the custard cools, puree the strawberries in a blender until smooth.
Pour the pureed strawberries into the custard and stir until thoroughly blended.

Cover and let chill in the fridge for at least four hours.

After the mixture has chilled, freeze in your ice cream maker according to the instructions. I use an old fashioned Rival ice cream freezer and it took about 40 minutes to churn the cream into ice cream.
Place in air tight containers and place in the freezer for about 2 hours to harden.
It's ok to take a taste before putting in the freezer, but if you're serving this to guests, you don't want to skip the hardening phase! This step allows you to get the perfect scoops of ice cream everyone loves.
Source: Adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine

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