While we were in Italy last month, we stayed at a house that had a massive patch of rosemary. I'd been wanting to make ice cream using the region's fresh milk and eggs and one morning, the sweet waft of rosemary coming up from the hot patio sealed the deal. That morning, I discovered a mulberry (gelso in Italian) tree about twenty yards away from the rosemary.
Rosemary ice cream with mulberries started to sound pretty good. I had Maxwell shake the tree as instructed by a local. Berries fell to our feet. The children squealed. It doesn't get much better than that.
Here's the recipe, but really you should just consider it a formula for an ice cream that uses up herbs. (What a nice tool to have in your arsenal!) Experiment with what's growing near you. What's on sale in big bunches at your farm stand? Mint? Basil? Go for it! A general rule with herb infusions is the tougher the plant (rosemary is pretty tough, like a tree branch almost) the less you need. So for basil, a pretty delicate herb, I'd double the quantity.
Rosemary Ice Cream
makes about 2 pints
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary leaves
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup granulated sugar
6 large egg yolks
Make an ice bath by filling a large mixing bowl halfway with ice and a few cups of water. Set aside.
Combine milk, cream, and 1/4 cup rosemary in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. It can bubble, but do not scald. Remove from heat. Ideally, you will let milk mixture rest in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. Or, you can simply move on to the next step.
With a whisk, beat sugar and egg yolks together until thick and pale yellow. If milk mixture has been cooled, reheat to a simmer. Pour through a fine sieve to strain out rosemary. Slowly pour about a cup of hot milk mixture into egg mixture, whisking to prevent eggs from cooking.
Pour egg mixture back into the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until it is thickened and coats the back of a spoon, about 10-12 minutes. Remove from heat and strain into a large bowl. Stir in remaining 2 tablespoons chopped rosemary, and place custard over ice bath to chill, about 10 minutes.
Place a sheet of plastic wrap directly on top of custard and place in the refrigerator to chill completely, at least 3 hours or overnight. Once chilled, freeze in an ice-cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Serve alone, with fresh berries or even a drizzle of hot maple syrup.
Will keep frozen in an airtight container for about a week.