Nutty Basil Lemon Ice Cream

Reader Contribution by Karen Keb
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 Basil-Lemon Ice Cream

In the last year, I’ve really been into crafting my own ice
cream. I feel like I’ve gotten the method down for my favorite style–custard–so
I’ve been experimenting with whatever happens to be in season when inspiration
strikes. Yesterday, it was my big patch of basil growing just outside the front
door. I had already made three jars of pesto for the freezer and I noticed a
half gallon of milk in the fridge and some leftover pine nuts, so I decided …
why not turn this all into ice cream? Here’s a delightfully nutty, citrusy ice
cream that delivers just the right hint of basil, with a little crunch to make
it interesting.

Here’s what I did:

1 ½ cups whole milk

1 ¼ teaspoons lemon extract, divided

½ cup basil leaves, roughly torn

4 egg yolks

1 teaspoon corn starch

¾ cup sugar

1 cup heavy cream

2/3 cup pine nuts

Place the milk and 1 teaspoon lemon extract in a heavy sauce
pan and heat to a simmer (bubbles will form around the outside of pan, but do
not boil). Immediately remove the pan from heat, add the torn basil leaves,
stir, and cover. Set aside to infuse for 1 hour, stirring once or twice.

Strain the milk-basil mixture through a fine sieve.

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, corn starch,
and sugar until pale and smooth. Slowly whisk in the milk-basil mixture until
fully incorporated. Return all to the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring
constantly, until it coats the back of a spoon. This is important: Do not allow
yourself to be distracted during this process. Watch the mixture carefully and
remove from heat as soon as it coats the spoon. You can determine this when you
dip a spoon into the custard and it forms a solid layer. Run your finger across
the custard and if it makes a clear line, without running, it’s done.

Place the pan of custard into a large bowl filled with ice
water to cool. Stir in the heavy cream. Meanwhile, process the pine nuts in a food processor until a
chunky paste forms. Toast the crumbed nuts in a dry skillet just until you
smell a nutty aroma. Set aside to cool.

Once everything is cooled (about 30 minutes), stir the nuts
and remaining ¼ teaspoon lemon extract into the custard. Pour everything into
an electric ice cream maker and churn for 30 minutes. Transfer to an airtight
container and freeze for a few hours before serving. Allow to sit at room
temperature for 5-10 minutes to soften before scooping. 

Note: Jim Long of Long Creek Herbs says a similar
ice cream could be made with Lemon Basil (omit the lemon extract). I am growing
Genovese, sweet, and cinnamon basil so I used a combination of those varieties.