My Favorite Ice Cream
Everyone knows the phrase “random acts of kindness” – and yet, I hardly ever see people do anything without reason or credit for someone else. It’s not that people are unkind or hypocritical, it’s just not something you see every day. And yet, two people in my life went out of their way to make my world even better.
The first is E-, a boy who I went to middle school with. We only had a few classes together and we haven’t kept in touch. However, I post food photos on facebook, so most of my friends know about 17 and Baking. The other day, I received a random email from him. When I saw his name in my inbox I wondered if he’d sent it to me by mistake.
But the email, only a few sentences long, was clearly for me: he’d seen my blog and bought me my own domain. You might notice that I’m 17andbaking.com now instead of 17andbaking.wordpress.com (no worries, the wordpress link will still work.) An hour later I’d made business card with my new address.
D-, is one of my mother’s co-workers. I had never met her before this summer, and I’d never spoken to her except maybe once or twice. Everyone at my mother’s office knows about my baking because a lot of leftovers and excess batches are sent straight to their kitchen.
Imagine my surprise when D- approached me and showed me some emails she’d printed. D- had emailed my blog to a prominent food writer, who had written back that I was a “darling” girl. She couldn’t believe I’m only 17, and that she was very impressed. What a compliment to see it written right in front of me! D- didn’t know this writer at all, but she just felt compelled to pass my blog along. D-, that email made my week, and I can’t tell you how sweet it was.
It’s hard to describe how I’m feeling this summer, but if I had to pick a word, I’d say nostalgic. I’m not sure why, but all this alone time is making me think a lot about old memories. The entire time I made this ice cream – and I’m not going to further the suspense any longer, it’s basil – I thought about the first time I made it last summer.
One of my closest friends came to my house on a whim, and we made this ice cream together. We took a long walk around the neighborhood while we waited for it to freeze, and that twilit walk is one of my favorite memories with him. When we got home, we ate it in cheap sugar cones and stayed up the rest of the night talking, drinking tea, and giggling.
Basil is my favorite herb in savory dishes too. I get funny looks when I say it’s my favorite ice cream flavor, but you’re missing out if you’ve never had it… Mellow, warm, sweet, and utterly summerly. People still look skeptical even after I rave about its beautiful pale green color, its creamy texture, and the surprising way the flavor rounds out in your mouth.
I just shrug and say, “Hey, mint is an herb too, but nobody raises an eyebrow at that.” And even if they can’t wrap their minds around an ice cream flavor you can’t buy at Baskin Robbin’s, I’m sure a foodie like you can!
(PS I shot these ice cream photos in 100 degree weather! :) I’m proud!)
Basil and chocolate are actually fantastic together. I didn’t add chocolate chunks to this ice cream because I didn’t want to distract from the basil, but feel free to add that. Lemon zest might also brighten it up. I used sweet basil but other varieties like refreshing Lemon basil, spicy Thai basil, or sweet Cinnamon basil would make interesting ice creams. I like this ice cream so much I eat it with a baby spoon straight from the freezer, but it would be very good with an almond or lemon dessert.
Basil Ice Cream
Adapted from Gourmet magazine
Makes 3 cups
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar, divided
1/4 cup fresh chopped basil
Pinch of salt
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup chilled whipping cream
In a small saucepan over moderate heat, bring the milk, 1/4 cup sugar, salt, and the basil to a boil. Remove from heat and let steep 30 minutes, half covered with a lid. Transfer to a blender, keeping the saucepan, and blend until the basil is ground, about a minute.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat egg yolks on medium speed. Add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until thick and pale, about one minute. Pour the milk mixture in a slow, steady stream and beat until well combined. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan. Stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, heat over moderate heat until custard coats the back of the spoon and reaches 175 degrees F. Strain into a metal bowl and chill until cold, stirring often.
Stir in cream and churn in an ice cream maker. Freeze in an airtight container at least two hours.
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