Summer Recipes: Vanilla Bean and Green Tea Ice Cream

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Green tea ice cream might not be the first flavor you think when you want a dish, but it's surprisingly good.

Fresh mint, juicy blackberries, toasted nuts, and dark chocolate all complement the light, grassy, and toasty flavor of green tea ice cream — or add whatever you can dream up! I tried a suggestion from chef Jamie Oliver to serve ice cream with a drizzle of fruity olive oil and a sprinkle of coarse sea salt — wow-wee! Makes about 1 quart. 

1 cup whole milk
2 cups heavy cream, divided
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise (or 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract)
1 to 2 tbsp matcha (richly flavored green tea powder)

1/4 tsp salt

6 large egg yolks

2/3 cup fine raw sugar

Place your ice cream cylinder in the freezer. Mix together the milk and 1 cup of the cream, drop in the vanilla bean, cover and refrigerate for half an hour. Whisk the matcha into a couple of tablespoons of hot water until dissolved. Set aside. In a saucepan set over medium low heat, bring the liquid mixture and salt just to a boil. Meanwhile, beat together the yolks, sugar, and tea liquid until thick. When the milk mixture comes to a low boil, remove from heat. Pour a third of the hot liquid into the yolk mixture and incorporate it with a whisk. Whisk in another third of the liquid, then pour the mixture back into the saucepan, and heat over low heat.

Stir continuously with a wooden spoon until it thickens slightly and coats the back of the spoon (about 170 degrees Fahrenheit). This will take a few minutes, but do not let it boil or the yolks will begin to cook. Remove from heat, remove the vanilla bean, and let the mixture cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for a couple of hours or overnight. Whip the remaining cup of cream until fluffy, and fold it into the custard. Pour the mixture into your ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Remove to an airtight container, and store in the freezer for at least an hour before serving. 

Homemade Ice Cream Flavor Enhancements 

Add any of the following at the same time that you add the vanilla bean.

1 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped1 cup nuts, finely chopped and toasted1 cup fresh berries, whole or pureed1 cup dark chocolate, chopped or shaved 

Homemade Ice Cream Recipe Notes: 

If you enjoy making foods by hand — and getting a bit of a workout before stuffing your face with the best ice cream you’ve ever had — you’ll want to find a high-quality, hand-cranked ice cream maker. One great source is Lehman’s. Or try the octagonal Play & Freeze ice-cream-making ball, a wacky, fun-for-kids way to get the job done. But if you’re in the market for a snazzy, electric version, opt for the ice cream bowl and paddle attachments for your KitchenAid stand mixer, or the compact and supereasy model from Cuisinart.

Look for the Fair Trade label on chocolate, vanilla and tea products to ensure they were produced responsibly.

Extend the life of those gosh-darn-expensive vanilla beans. After removing the bean from the custard, let it air-dry, then toss it into your sugar pot for heavenly aromatic vanilla sugar.

If you can find farm-fresh eggs and milk from grass-fed animals, your ice cream will be the hit of the summer. Guaranteed.

This rich and creamy recipe is a perfect base for layering on your favorite flavors.

Check out more fresh summer recipes!