Friday, September 19, 2008
Sage Ice Cream
End of summer always brings out the experimental ice cream maker in me. Although all the season’s bright flavors are each wonderful in their own way, I’m always game to try something out of the ordinary when the fresh fruit starts to fade.
Several years ago when we started seeing the application of traditionally savory components in pastry and desserts, there were those who just couldn’t get behind it. Thankfully, times have definitely changed and we now find so many of these desserts on menus all over the world that it’s hard to resist experimentation. And every now and then you find an unusual combination that just seems like a brilliant stroke of innovation. For me, herb ice creams qualify in this way and Sage Ice Cream is definitely one such treasure. You’ve likely heard of or tasted sage honey, so it’s not too far a stretch.
I’ve had this recipe clipped for a long time and just never got around to it. When I saw some really beautiful fresh sage at the market, the memory of wanting to try this ice cream recipe came back to me like a bolt. So here we are.
This is a rich, lovely dessert with a beautiful pastel color. It’s a bit difficult to describe, much as a lot of novel ice cream flavors are. You just have to try it. It’s not too sweet and the herbal note grabs you right away and lingers on your palate as you soon realize how gorgeous the purity of sage really is. I thought long and hard about what I would pair it with, but came up short. I think it really does stand on its own. It’s a terrific and true indulgence.
- As you’re cooking the base, taste it for the depth of sage flavor and make it strong. Although its appearance and fragrance might strike you as strange at first, once it gets churned, it becomes this amazing experience of soft, pure flavor.
- Never walk away from cream that is heating on the stove. As it reaches the boiling point, it will bubble up and over and make a huge mess.
Sage Ice Cream
adapted from Gourmet, October 2001
Makes 1 quart
2 C heavy cream
2 C half-and-half
1/3 C coarsely chopped fresh sage
4 2" x 1/2" strips lemon zest
9 egg yolks
3/4 C granulated sugar
1/4 t salt
Slowly and gently heat cream, half-and-half, sage, lemon zest and salt to a full simmer over moderate heat. Do not boil. Remove from heat, cover and steep for about an hour, tasting for strength along the way. When the flavor is good and strong, strain into another clean saucepan and warm it up a bit.
Whisk together yolks and sugar in a large bowl. Whisk in some of the warm cream mixture to temper, then whisk egg mixture into remaining cream in saucepan. Cook custard over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until it coats back of a wooden spoon, about 5 minutes. Be very careful not to not let the mixture heat too quickly or boil.
Strain the mixture into a bowl and cool, stirring occasionally until it cools down completely. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.
Freeze in an ice cream maker. Pour into an airtight container, cover the surface with plastic wrap and place in your freezer to firm up.