What to CookIce Cream & Frozen DessertsSummerFruitHerbs

The Key to Fruity Ice Cream That Actually Tastes Like Fruit

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Summer is ice cream season. (Though, if you're me, so is winter and fall and spring.) Homemade ice cream is not only a fun project to tackle, but it means you can create exactly the flavor you want. Do you like more fudge ripple in your pint? Add it in! Prefer a pinch of salt in your caramel cone? Throw it in your recipe!

Photo by Posie Harwood

With that philosophy in mind, I set out to create a strawberry ice cream recipe that tastes really and truly of the fruit itself. This recipe uses no eggs, so the fruit really shines. It's still luscious and incredibly creamy, but the strawberry flavor is more pure and strong, since the base isn't cooked. But strawberry ice cream alone wasn't what I was craving. Happily, our garden this summer has yielded a bounty of fresh basil, and I've been dropping it in as many dishes as I can. Strawberry and basil are a match made in dessert heaven: Basil adds an interesting herbal note to the fruit, taming the sweetness and giving each bite a slightly peppery, aromatic taste.

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How to Actually Use Up an Entire Bunch of Basil in 1 Week

To get maximum basil flavor into your ice cream, you'll infuse some heavy cream with chopped, fresh herbs. This just means combining the fresh basil and cream in a saucepan, bringing it up to a simmer, then turning off the heat and letting it sit for at least 20 or 30 minutes before straining the cream. It's best to do this step the night before, which allows you to fully chill the infused cream. Homemade ice cream is best made from all cold ingredients, which will speed up the churning process.

Photo by Posie Harwood

The infused cream step is a nice technique to play around with. You could use mint, or bay leaves, or even rosemary to create other flavor profiles. For example, swap the basil for rosemary and the strawberry puree for some lemon zest (or a ribbon of lemon curd!) and you have yourself a delicious lemon rosemary ice cream. Blackberry puree and thyme-infused cream would be nice together, as would raspberry and mint.

Start with the recipe here, and play around to your heart's content. Summer is long and hot, and we have many ice cream-eating nights ahead of us (and not just in summer).

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Strawberry Basil Ice Cream

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Makes 1 1/2 quarts
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • large pinch of salt
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Tags: strawberry, herb garden