We took a day trip to Healdsburg this weekend, made our way through Napa and Sonoma valleys exploring a couple of neighborhoods we hadn't visited before. Right now with our warm springlike spell the land is painted with a beautiful bright yellow shade of wild mustard blooms and even the vineyards that still haven't sprung back from winter are looking quite magnificent against this backdrop of gold. Some of the trees are still covered with soot and black char from the recent fires and this was a nice visual respite from that terrible moment.
With my ongoing theme on lemons that started out with the marshmallows, this week there is a lemon and rosemary infused ice cream made using Jeni Britton Bauer's recipe from her iconic book - Jenis Splendid Ice Creams at Home (Artisan Books) that made me make ice cream a lot more at home and also get adventurous! There's no egg in the recipe and it is a cream cheese based version which I love. It's got the right amount of lemon perfume and tangy notes. There's also a little bit of rosemary that pairs extremely well with this bright citrus flavor. When I met Jeni last month in San Francisco (who is absolutely wonderful and fun in person), I had to tell her how much I love her lemon ice cream and it's usually the one that I run to the store when I hear it's on the shelves.
To make this a true lemon lover's ice cream, I chopped up a few of those lemon poppy seed marshmallows and added them to the ice cream. It adds a nice pop of flavor and surprising texture from the soft marshmallows as well as the crunchy poppy seeds. The fried sugar coated rosemary sprigs helped unite the whole theme together. Now all you need to do is make, freeze and eat up!
A note: I prefer younger rosemary sprigs because the flavor is much nicer in desserts and not too intense especially in this dessert where lemon is the major player.
lemon rosemary ice cream (adapted from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams At Home - Jeni Britton Bauer - Artisan Books)
yields: 1 quart
3 medium lemons
2 Tbsp sugar
2 cups whole milk
1 1/4 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp cornstarch
1 1/2 oz (3 Tbsp) cream cheese, softened
1/8 tsp fine sea salt
2/3 cup (130g) sugar
2 Tbsp light corn syrup*
2 to 3 Tbsp fresh rosemary leaves (for much stronger you could go up to 4 Tbsp)
Zest of 3 lemons (reserved from above)
For the lemon syrup:
Obtain the zest from the lemons and then extract the juice to obtain 1/2 cup.
Combine the lemon juice with the 2 Tbsp sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer on medium heat, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and transfer to a small bowl and chill in the refrigerator.
For the Ice Cream:
Mix 2 Tbsp of milk with the cornstarch to form a slurry in a small bowl and keep aside until ready to use.
Whisk the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth.
Fill a large bowl with ice and cold water.
Combine the milk, cream, sugar, corn syrup and lemon zest in a medium saucepan. Bruise the rosemary leaves with a knife or rub them between the palms of your hands and toss them into the saucepan. Heat on medium-high and bring to a rolling boil and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the cornstarch slurry.
Bring the mixture back to a boil over medium heat and cook stirring with a heatproof spatula until slightly thickened for about 1 minute. Remove from heat.
Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth. Pour this mixture into a gallon ziptop bag and submerge sealed in the ice-bath. Leave for about 30 minutes until the liquid is completely chilled.
Strain the chilled liquid to remove the zest and rosemary leaves through a fine mesh strainer. Discard the solids left behind in the strainer. Pour the ice cream base into the canister of your ice cream maker, add the lemon juice (I typically pour it in after 5 minutes of churning) and prepare as per the manufacturer's instructions.
Once the ice cream is prepared transfer it to storage container and let it firm in the freezer for at least 4 hrs before serving.
If you want to use the marshmallows in the ice cream. Cut 4 to 6 marshmallow cubes into 1/4 - inch thick strips and layer them randomly with the ice cream as soon as the ice cream comes out of the ice cream maker. Freeze this for at least 4 hrs in the freezer before serving.
Fried Sugar Rosemary Leaves Garnish
yields enough for 4 to 6 servings
4 to 6 young rosemary sprigs
2 cups canola oil for frying
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Wash the sprigs gently and wipe them to remove any dirt. Let them dry on a clean towel completely before frying.
Heat the oil in a small saucepan on medium-high heat until it reaches 350F. Place the sugar in a small tray or bowl. Fry the sprigs until they start to just crisp about 45 seconds, the leaves will still be green and not brown. Immediately, remove the sprigs and transfer them to a paper towel to absorb excess oil and then toss them into the sugar to coat well. Let them sit for about 10 minutes before using to garnish the ice cream.
* Light corn syrup: This question comes up often so I will address it here. Light corn syrup is glucose and not fructose. Though glucose and fructose are enantiomers, in other words their molecular structures are mirror images of each other and they are completely different and act different too. Glucose is used to prevent sugar crystal formation in confections and ice cream and that is what light corn syrup does here. It is not the same thing as High Fructose Corn Syrup. Do not use them interchangeably, it will mess the texture of the ice cream up.