Basil Ice Cream (Inspired by David Lebovitz)

July  5, 2010
3 Ratings
  • Serves 1 quart
Author Notes

When thinking about new ice cream flavors, I am often inspired by the foods and ingredients around me. This ice cream was inspired by the mound of basil I had growing in my garden. If you have ever grown basil, you know how fast it can take off. I started clipping it and storing it in water on the counter top, trying to think of something to do with it other than make pesto. Then it came to me! I remembered reading about herb-flavored ice creams in one of my favorite ice cream books, The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz. I found a recipe for Basil Ice Cream, jotted down a few ideas to make the recipe my own, and went for it. The results were excellent! The striking anise flavor of the basil, sweetened with sugar, and balanced by a bit of lemon made for a very light and refreshing scoop of ice cream. The original recipe suggested serving the ice cream over macerated strawberries with lemon...amazing combination. I have included this recipe as well. Enjoy! —scoopmuse

Test Kitchen Notes

Over the course of a week, the flavor ripened and developed into an astonishingly delicious ice cream with perfect texture that remained nicely creamy. ScoopAdventurer has created a Philadelphia-style ice cream version of David Lebovitz's French ice cream. A recent article in the New York Times about Philadelphia-style ice cream (thickened with cream cheese and cornstarch instead of egg-yolk custard), helped me see the creativity of ScoopAdventurer's recipe. And then, when my friends and family sampled the week-old basil ice cream, they loved it! - AppleAnnie —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • Basil Ice Cream
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup packed basil leaves
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/8 cup corn syrup
  • 1 small lemon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon guar gum (see note)
  • 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum (see note)
  • Strawberries in Lemon Syrup (from David Lebovitz)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 small lemon
  • 1 pound strawberries
  1. Basil Ice Cream
  2. Place basil, sugar, and 1 cup milk in a blender and pulse until smooth and basil leaves are very fine. Strain half of the mixture through a fine mesh sieve and return mixture to the blender (this step is used to take out some of the basil leaves but not all of them). Zest lemon directly over blender. Add corn syrup and salt and blend. Add remaining milk and cream; pulse to combine. Turn blender on low and gradually add guar gum and xanthan gum (adding slowly will prevent clumping). Blend until well combined. Pour ice cream mixture into a non-reactive bowl and place in refrigerator until completely chilled, about 2-3 hours.
  3. Once chilled, pour ice cream base into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Pack the ice cream into a plastic container when finished. Press a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the ice cream (to prevent ice crystals) and close with an airtight lid. Freeze until firm, at least 4 hours. For best results, serve over strawberries in lemon syrup (see below).
  4. **Extra note: If you do not have guar gum or xanthan gum, you can substitute 1 Tablespoon cornstarch and 3 Tablespoons cream cheese. Follow these instructions for substitution: Reserve 2 Tablespoons of milk. In a small bowl, mix 2 Tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch. In another large bowl, whisk the cream cheese until smooth. After adding milk and cream to basil mixture, pour liquid in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook over moderate heat about 4 minutes (this will help the mixture thicken). Remove from heat and off the heat, gradually whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Return to a boil and cook over moderately high heat until the mixture is slightly thickened (draw a line on a spoon), about 1 minute. Gradually pour the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese and whisk until smooth. Place in refrigerator to chill. Continue with Step 2.
  1. Strawberries in Lemon Syrup (from David Lebovitz)
  2. Combine water and sugar with the grated zest of 1 small lemon in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook, until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat, pour into a bowl, and chill thoroughly. Hull and quarter strawberries. Add them to the lemon syrup and let macerate in the refrigerator for 1 to 4 hours. To serve, spoon the strawberries and some lemon syrup into shallow bowls and float a scoop of Basil Ice Cream in the center.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • scoopmuse
  • neighome

3 Reviews

scoopmuse July 29, 2013
neighome - Different herbs respond to heat and oxidation differently. If you pick or chop the basil ahead of time, it can oxidize quickly and turn brown, thus not retaining the bright green color. Be sure to use the freshest basil possible and do not chop. Chill immediately.
neighome July 27, 2013
Last summer I made this as written. I had a lovely fresh green color, like the photo. My batch made last night is grey/brown/pea green. The flavor is good, but it looks awful. I can't figure out what went wrong. Any ideas?
neighome July 29, 2013
Thanks for the tips! The brown batch was still delicious, but I ate it in the dark. I'll try again with very fresh basil.