This flavour experiment uses David Lebovitz's foolproof base recipe, and was inspired by François Chartier's brilliant suggestion of infusing a sauce with a cigar to highlight the tobacco notes in a wine. Its rich, dark flavour makes it a great ending to meals of grilled beef or game. Terrific with coffee or chocolate. —drollins
1. In a medium saucepan, combine 1 C of the cream with the milk, sugar and a good pinch of salt. Warm over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until frothy bubbles start to form around the edge of the pan.
2. Turn off the heat and add the whole black cardamom pods, cigar, and cinnamon. Use a small paring knife to slit the vanilla from end to end, then scrape the seeds out. Add the seeds and empty pod to the cream mixture. Cover and infuse for an hour. Meanwhile, lightly beat the egg yolks in a medium bowl. Chop the figs and soak them in the Bourbon.
3. Nearly fill a large bowl with ice and water. Rest a smaller bowl in this ice bath. (The smaller bowl should be big enough to hold all of the ingredients comfortably.) Pour the remaining 1 C cream into the smaller bowl, to chill it. Set a fine-meshed sieve over the cream.
4. After an hour’s infusion, remove the cigar and re-warm the cream mixture until frothy bubbles again appear around the edge. Dribble about half of the hot cream mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Then pour this yolk-cream mixture back into the saucepan and stir to combine. Cook over low heat until the custard coats the back of a spoon (175-180º F). Stir constantly and do not overcook, or the custard will curdle.
5. Strain the hot custard into the cold cream. Cool the custard to below 70º F by stirring it slowly over the ice bath. Refrigerate the custard in a sealed container for 4 hours.
6. If you have an ice cream maker, freeze the custard in it, mixing in the figs and Bourbon into the just-churned ice cream.
7. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, freeze the custard for an hour, then mix it with a stick blender. Return to the freezer for an hour, then mix again. After a third hour, mix a final time, then fold in the figs and Bourbon.