My Favorite Ice Cream

August 2, 2009 at 6:03 pm 35 comments

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.

Printer Friendly Version – Basil Ice Cream

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35 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Kerstin  |  August 2, 2009 at 7:01 pm

    What a lovely ice cream, I would love to try it! I just made little cards for my blog too and felt like such a dork, but they are so useful when someone asks about it!

    Reply
  • 2. nutmegnanny  |  August 2, 2009 at 7:20 pm

    This ice cream looks delicious! I’m so happy for you and all the random acts of kindness.

    Reply
  • 3. Shannalee  |  August 2, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    Absolutely love stories like these! When people come out of themselves to do loving things–without expectation of reward–I think it’s so beautiful and right. Thanks for sharing with us! (And I STILL can’t believe you’re 17 either!)

    Reply
  • 4. Amanda  |  August 2, 2009 at 7:47 pm

    You really do have some very nice friends with very nice connections. :)

    Great looking ice cream, too!

    Reply
  • 5. Valérie  |  August 2, 2009 at 8:17 pm

    Hey, as far as I’m concerned, the favours and compliments you have received are well-deserved! Your blog is really top-notch!

    I have neither tried basil ice cream, but I completely believe that it must be amazing. I can absolutely imagine the taste! Beautiful pictures of the ice cream and basil plant!

    Reply
  • 6. Angela  |  August 2, 2009 at 9:12 pm

    This ice-cream sounds simply divine and I’ll definitely be giving it a try sometime! Photos are gorgeous, as ever – keep up the fantastic work! xxx

    Reply
  • 7. Darina  |  August 2, 2009 at 10:26 pm

    You are very well deserving of the compliments. You write beautifully and your photos and the recipes you choose are wonderful.

    Reply
  • 8. Alana  |  August 3, 2009 at 4:29 am

    Oooh yummy! I love basil. It’s my favorite herb as well :)

    Reply
  • 9. Dolce  |  August 3, 2009 at 8:26 am

    This is wonderful that you now have a domain name AND you are in touch with a food writer :) Congratulations on both… plus the basil ice cream, that is…

    Reply
  • 10. Kevin  |  August 3, 2009 at 8:35 am

    A basil ice cream sounds interesting. I am going to have to try t.

    Reply
  • 11. Madison  |  August 3, 2009 at 9:57 am

    Congrats! A sweet gesture that was well thought out is so priceless.

    Reply
  • 12. kai  |  August 3, 2009 at 6:10 pm

    the ice cream looks delicious! and perfect for the hot weather…

    good job on all these posts! i hope i’ll be able to see you sometime soon!

    <3

    Reply
  • 13. Baking Monster  |  August 3, 2009 at 8:46 pm

    I’m so exctied for you!and this recipe looks great!

    Reply
  • 14. Sis  |  August 4, 2009 at 7:49 am

    Congratulations! What sweet gestures.

    The ice cream looks yummy – basil is my favorite herb too – well, maybe tied with cilantro and rosemary, LOL. Got any ice cream recipes for those two? haha

    Reply
  • 15. Bakerylove  |  August 4, 2009 at 8:22 am

    refreshing & yummy! :D It must have been very very tasty!

    Reply
  • 16. Hilary  |  August 4, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    What a sweet story! (Who’s the prominent food writer…??)

    Reply
  • 17. Connie  |  August 4, 2009 at 5:52 pm

    Warning: I’m going to write you a book! =p

    I’ve been following your blog for a while now, and I love it! I’m going into senior year like you, and also absolutely love to bake. Your blog is so professional; it’s inspiring me to start one! This ice cream looks absolutely delicious. I’m asking for an ice cream maker for my birthday, and I think this will be one of the first things I make with it. Although, if I can’t wait till then I might have to try it sans ice cream maker.

    Also, I was wondering if anyone has ever told 17 magazine about your blog. I just got this month’s issue and was thinking how perfect a feature this website would be. Just a thought. =]

    Sorry about this huge amount of writing. Happy baking!

    Reply
    • 18. Elissa  |  August 4, 2009 at 6:43 pm

      Connie – You are sooo sweet! :) It’s always incredible to meet other 17 year olds who love to bake and I’m so happy that I’m inspiring you to make a blog! The idea with 17 magazine is a really good one… I’d never thought of that but maybe I should see if I can get in touch with them. Thanks! I can’t wait to see your site once you create it.

  • 19. Jet  |  August 5, 2009 at 8:30 pm

    beautiful again, Elissa: the story and the photos as always

    my basil recipe is a little different – i made it again last week, adapted from David Lebovitz’ book, The Perfect Scoop – i’ll let you know when i get it posted: it’s a variation you might like to try

    Reply
  • 20. Fuji Mama  |  August 6, 2009 at 9:06 am

    Wow, I’m impressed that you took those photos in such hot weather! I never would have guessed! The ice cream sounds delish–I’ll have to try it. I love the look of your cards–how did you do them?

    Reply
    • 21. Elissa  |  August 10, 2009 at 2:27 pm

      Fuji Mama – I made the cards on Microsoft Word. I made a table and adjusted the height/width of each cell to be business card sized. Then I placed an image (it’s a snippet off my blog’s banner) and a text box in every cell and printed it on cardstock!

  • 22. Jennifer  |  August 10, 2009 at 8:53 pm

    Holy cow, that’s awesome ice cream! Thanks for sharing the recipe! I bet it would be equally awesome with lavender, fennel fronds, or maybe even cilantro substituted for the basil… hmmmm…

    Reply
  • 23. Kristen  |  August 10, 2009 at 9:16 pm

    I love RAOK and try to practice them regularly. You have so much to be proud of and lots of people want to show you off because you are so incredibly talented.
    Love this ice cream… I can just imagine how fresh it tastes!

    Reply
  • 24. Amanda Formaro  |  August 14, 2009 at 10:28 am

    Thanks for the great post! I have linked to your basil recipe in my basil post today :)
    http://oldtips.blogspot.com/2009/08/friday-recipes-basil.html

    Reply
  • 25. Alicia  |  January 22, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    Ever since I saw this post i’ve been wanting to make this ice cream sooooo bad!! I don’t have an ice cream maker so maybe that’s why it took me so long, but I finally had the courage to try it. I’m making it right now, so i’ll tell you later how it went.

    Love your blog!!

    Reply
  • 26. Tracey  |  July 2, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    I just made this ice cream, and oh my, is it delicious! I had fresh basil in the kitchen, so I thought of this recipe. I had no idea of how basil ice cream would taste – and now, I have to say it is one of my new favorite flavors. As I first tried it, I found myself whispering, “This is…amazing!”. I love how you said, “I like this ice cream so much I eat it with a baby spoon straight from the freezer”, because that is exactly what I was just doing!

    Reply
  • 27. carla  |  July 26, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    Hi Elissa,
    I love your posts! We have so much basil in the garden & i love to make ice cream, so I decided to try this one! I don’t think it came out that great…it tastes good, but when i churned it, it never got creamy, so i just froze it as liquid in the ice cream bowl…did i do something wrong? I froze it over nite & its good today, just not really creamy as an ice cream shoud be…what do u think?

    Reply
  • 28. Aundrea L.  |  February 2, 2011 at 3:41 am

    Yummy ice cream! These days it does seem everybody’s become a little selfish and giving those random acts of kindness. But what I love to do becasue when it happens to me, Is giving strangers a smile. The feeling after I get after smiling at some stranger and them smiling back is just so rewarding and you know that the person feels better too. Even when the person doesn’t smile back and looks at you funny you still feel better becasue you tried. In a way you can think of this as a “selfish good deed” becasue you being rewarded!

    Reply
  • 29. Arfi  |  February 22, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    I’ve tried this. I quite like it although not a favourite. But I think if it’s combined with strawberries and balsamic vinegar compote perhaps it will talk more. Anyway, it is refreshing, very nice to taste different flavour. And I would say, this is a ‘bold’ taste. Thank you for posting.

    Reply
  • 30. Arfi  |  February 23, 2011 at 10:45 pm

    And here is my post for your basil ice cream: http://www.homemadesbyarfi.com/2011/02/17-bakings-basil-ice-cream.html
    You are awesome!

    Reply
  • 31. Marta  |  May 18, 2011 at 12:24 am

    This ice cream looks AMAZING, I’m just wondering if you can make it without an ice cream maker??

    Your blog is fantastic, keep up the great work!!

    Reply
  • [...] Basil Ice Cream from 17 and Baking [...]

    Reply
  • 33. Ashley  |  June 23, 2011 at 2:58 am

    Hi!! I love your site! And pictures. I really wanted to try this ice cream recipe… Do you think you could recommend an ice cream maker? What do you use? What other ones have your heard good things about?

    Reply
    • 34. Elissa  |  July 1, 2011 at 1:06 pm

      Ashley – Sorry for the late response! My ice cream maker is from KitchenAid. It attaches to my KitchenAid stand mixer and I couldn’t be happier with it!

  • 35. Joanne Eats Well With Others | Thai Basil Ice Cream  |  July 17, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    […] Thai Basil Ice Cream Makes 3 cups, adapted from 17 and Baking […]

    Reply

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Elissa Bernstein



I'm Elissa: a 17 (now 21) year old baker in Seattle Boston juggling creative nonfiction workshops, subway maps, and my passions for writing, baking, and photography. Photo above © Michelle Moore

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