Ahhh, ice cream. On a hot summer day, there truly is nothing like it. The feel of cool ice cream, sweet on your tongue, is incomparable. Ice cream is enjoyed by children and adults of all ages, and can be made with a multitude of flavor combinations that is only limited by the imagination of the creator. We have seen ample evidence of that in recent years, with the advent of exciting new flavors like Candied Bacon Ice Cream, Foie Gras Ice Cream, and even Fish and Octopus Ice Cream from the Japanese. Yum.
Not to fear, I won't be sharing any ice cream recipes anytime soon that have seafood or animal parts in the ingredient list. No, the imagination of The Cilantropist came up with the lovely, light combination of honey-flavored ice cream perfumed with delicate sage.
I originally got the courage to dream up ice cream recipes at all when I stumbled across methods for making ice cream without an ice cream maker. Because it is sad but true, The Cilantropist does not own an ice cream maker. I know, they are not that expensive; truth be told, it scares me a little bit to think about owning a machine whose sole purpose is to churn up sugar and cream into something that is fattening yet delicious and irresistible. Plus I don't think I have room in my kitchen.
But who needs an ice cream maker anyway, when all I need to make ice cream is my freezer and my own two hands! Because really folks, this is all it takes to whip up your own creamy ice cream at home. There are no special tricks, no fancy gadgets, and no guarantee that you will maintain your current weight. Because once you get started making ice cream, you might not be able to stop.
That seems to be what has happened to me, because ever since I first attempted David Lebovitz's Mint Chip Ice Cream a few weeks back (using his methods for no-ice-cream-maker ice cream), I have been whipping up different batches of flavors with reckless abandon. So when I decided I definitely needed to have a unique ice cream to pair with my Lacquered Peaches dessert, my mind started running wild.
I though that honey would pair really well with peaches, plus, for some reason I associate honey and peaches with the South. (This really has nothing to do with this recipe, and this is not Southern food. Just how my mind works.) I also remembered that I had gotten an awesome jar of local honey on my trip to NY, and I was thrilled that I could use it in this recipe. I couldn't decide if I wanted Honey Ice Cream alone, or if I should jazz it up with some other flavor...I don't want to be boring here. I thought about pairing it with lavender, or even thyme, but then a good friend suggested that sage would be great with honey, and I made the executive decision: Honey Sage Ice Cream it would be.
When I first started making this, I was delighted with the simplicity of these seemingly rustic flavors. I was smelling and rubbing the soft sage... tasting the sweet honey... and getting excited about the creamy ice cream I would have soon. Then I heated up the cream to "steep" the sage. At this point, the warm sage cooking with the cream smelled suspiciously like pot. Yes, you heard me right. The beginnings of this ice cream preparation gave an aroma of weed. Creamy weed, but definitely weed. Hmmm... Not really what I was expecting, but I decided to go with it. I covered it up with the lid and crossed my fingers that it would magically transform into something delectable.
Fortunately, my blind faith paid off because eventually everything smelled and tasted just as sage should, and the combination with the honey in the ice cream was incredible, yet delicate at the same time. I thought it would be good, but was a little shocked that it was sooooo good. I think it has something to do with the ice cream being homemade, and also because of simple quality ingredients. The sage was organic, the honey was local, and the ice cream was freshly frozen and hand-churned. Each recipe of homemade ice cream I have whipped up has made me sigh with pleasure, and this recipe was definitely no different. So whether you have an ice cream maker or not, embrace the end of summer and make some ice cream. Then go out for a jog. And then try my Lacquered Peaches.
Honey Sage Ice Cream
1 cup whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
2 bunches of fresh sage
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 large egg yolks
1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons good quality honey
In a medium saucepan, combine whole milk, 1 cup heavy cream, both bunches of sage (bundled with kitchen string if possible), and salt. Heat cream and milk mixture over medium heat until hot, then remove from heat and cover. Let stand for 45 minutes to 1 hour to infuse the cream with the sage.
Meanwhile, fill the bottom of a large bowl with ice, and place a medium bowl inside of it, on top of the ice (nesting bowls are great for this); add the remaining cream to this medium bowl, and place a fine mesh sieve over the top of the bowl. This whole setup will be used to chill the cream mixture before freezing.
After the sage has steeped in the cream for 1 hour, remove the entire bundle from the cream and reheat over medium heat. In a separate bowl, whisk together then egg yolks, and then add some of this warm cream mixture to the yolks, whisking constantly. Scrape the yolks back into the same saucepan, and stir over medium heat until the mixture thickens to form a custard.
Pour the custard mixture into the medium bowl with the remaining cream, through the fine mesh sieve; this will remove any egg solids that might have formed when making the custard. Throughly mix the custard into the cream. Heat up the honey briefly in the microwave, and then mix it into the cream as well. Let the entire mixture set over the ice bowl, stirring occasionally, until everything has cooled. At this point, transfer the mixture to your ice cream maker if you have one, or transfer the mixture to a freezer safe container.
To make ice cream without an ice cream maker (which I did), just keep the cream in the freezer for about an hour. Take it out and mix it up really well with a whisk or immersion blender. Keep repeating this until the mixture is mostly frozen, and then let it freeze completely. Continually stirring it basically mimics what an ice cream maker would do, and this is the most important step to ensure the ice cream is creamy. For more detailed instructions, see David Lebovitz's description here. Serve with Lacquered Peaches, or enjoy several scoops with a large spoon.