Make Ahead

Lemon Basil Sherbet

August 23, 2009
5 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

This is the first year that slugs did not devour my basil plants, leaving me with a surplus to play around with. Lighter than ice cream and creamier than sorbet, this lemon sherbet is tangy and bright, and the basil is a surprising complement to the fresh lemon. David Lebovitz's Lemon Sherbet recipe was my original inspiration for this slightly more indulgent incarnation, which incorporates cream, honey, and fresh basil. - Sandy Smith —Sandy Smith

Test Kitchen Notes

This sherbet is everything we want in a refreshing frozen treat. It's light and airy yet indulgent, with just the right balance of tart and sweet, and a hint of cream to round out the flavors. As if this weren't enough, Sandy Smith includes an inspired detail: she infuses the sherbet base with fresh basil leaves and then adds chopped basil before freezing the mixture. The results are subtle and bewitching. As Sandy notes in her recipe, the sherbet is best after a couple of hours in the freezer, as it emerges from the ice cream maker a bit soft. - A&M —The Editors

  • Serves about 1 quart
  • 1 cup half-and-half or light cream
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 8 fresh basil leaves, divided
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • Juice of 3 lemons, chilled
  • Pinch fine sea salt
In This Recipe
  1. In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the half-and-half, sugar, honey, and lemon zest. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and add 4 whole basil leaves. Using the back of a large spoon or ladle, bruise the basil leaves against the bottom of the pot. Cover and let steep 15 minutes.
  2. Remove the basil leaves and discard, then whisk in the milk. Place the mixture in an ice-water bath or refrigerate until completely chilled.
  3. Slice the remaining 4 basil leaves in very thin strips. Whisk the lemon juice into the chilled sherbet base, add the sea salt, and stir in the sliced basil. Taste for sweetness; adjust by adding an additional tablespoon or two of honey, if needed.
  4. Freeze the sherbet mixture in an ice-cream maker, following manufacturer's instructions. For optimal flavor and texture, freeze sherbet for a couple of hours before serving.
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