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I love Facebook, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I know the cool thing is to be “over” it and super into the next hot social network, probably called Ppplrr.nu or something ridiculous like that, but I still have Facebook love. I adore creeping on people’s profiles (why are they all set to private these days?) and commenting on friends’ photos, and of course meeting people through the SugarHero facebook page!
Because my pavlova experiments corresponded with nougat week at the candy site, I had a TON of leftover egg yolks in my fridge, and a very short window in which to use them. I wanted to make some ice cream, so I polled the SugarHero Facebook page about what flavor(s) I should make. Democracy in action, right? Well, democracy is awesome, and also delicious, because I got some great answers. You people are geniuses! Here’s a small sampling of the ideas:
Banana nut bread
Don’t you want to eat all of those? Kind of all at once? Yeah, me too. I’m thinking I might try to feature one ice cream recipe a week during the summer, because there were so many good ideas, I couldn’t pick just one. So get your ice cream makers ready and buy All The Cream—things are getting real.
Several people suggested peach ice cream, and as soon as I saw that, I knew I had to make it first. We had a few peach trees in the backyard of the house I grew up in, and every summer we would process those peaches every which way. We’d make peach jam, we’d can peach halves, we’d eat peach cobbler and peach salsa and peach pie. (The peach gluttony almost made up for the fact that it was my job to pick up the rotten peaches from the ground. If you’ve never had the pleasure of handling rotten, fermented, fly-buzzed fruit in the sweltering heat…you are so very lucky.)
One of my favorite ways to enjoy our peaches was in ice cream. We had an old ice cream maker that used rock salt, which made the churning process seem even more magical and mysterious. Since then, I’ve tried making peach ice cream at home once or twice, but it’s always seemed so flavorless and bland in comparison to the peach ice cream of my childhood memory.
UNTIL NOW. Drumroll please….
This Peach Honey Ice Cream with Lemon Verbena isn’t the same as the plain, fresh-churned peach ice cream of my childhood, but it’s wonderful in its own way. I bought the best peaches I could find—these are from a farmer’s market and are grown locally, so they were ripe when picked and are super flavorful. Along with the peaches, I also bought some local sage blossom honey at the market. The honey guy told me that it’s primarily from sage and buckwheat blossoms, but they had to move the bees before they could harvest the honey, so there’s a little grapefruit in there, too. Then he added, “I hope you don’t mind.” Um, no, no I don’t mind that you created this fantastic honey, as long as you don’t mind that I keep licking the sample spoon like a starving chihuahua.
My final farmer’s market addition was a bunch of lemon verbena, an ultra-fragrant herb with big citrus notes. I’m sure it’s wonderful in savory dishes like fish, but I’ve only ever used it in desserts—it’s such a natural pairing with many fresh fruit flavors. I steeped the cream with lemon verbena, then made the ice cream base with honey, milk, cream, egg yolks, and lots of peaches.
The resulting ice cream is smooth and creamy, with a big peach flavor and mellow honey and herbal undertones. If this ice cream is any indication, this summer is going to be very sweet indeed. I hope you’re ready to join me on the ice cream train!
Peach Honey Ice Cream With Lemon Verbena
- 24 large lemon verbena leaves
- 2 cups cream
- 3 medium peaches, about 1 pound
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided use
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 5 egg yolks
- 1 cup milk
- 1/3 cup honey
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- Start by infusing the cream with the lemon verbena. Combine the lemon verbena leaves and cream in a medium saucepan over medium heat, and bring the cream to a simmer. Remove the pan from the heat, cover it with a lid, and let it steep for 20 minutes.
- While the cream is infusing, prepare the peaches. To easily remove the skin from the peaches, cut a shallow X in the bottom of the peaches, just deep enough to cut through the skin. Bring a pot of water to a boil and drop the peaches in the water. Boil them for 30 seconds, then remove them from the water with a slotted spoon and place them in a bowl of cold water. Slip the skins off the peaches. Cut the peaches into small pieces—the smaller the better, so you don’t end up with big icy chunks of peaches in the ice cream. Combine the chopped peaches, 1/2 cup of granulated sugar, and the lemon juice in a bowl. Toss together a few times, and set in the refrigerator to chill.
- Place the yolks, the remaining granulated sugar, and a splash of milk in a medium bowl and whisk together.
- After 20 minutes, strain the lemon verbena leaves out of the cream. Add the remaining milk, honey, and salt to the cream in the saucepan, and whisk together over medium heat. When it just starts to come to a boil, remove the pan from the heat. Whisk the egg yolks while you slowly pour in about a third of the hot cream mixture, whisking constantly so the eggs heat up but don’t cook during the process.
- Now return the saucepan to the heat and start whisking the cream while you pour in the hot egg mixture. Continue to whisk as the custard cooks, and cook it until it thickens slightly and coats the back of a spoon. If you want to use a candy thermometer, you’re shooting for 175 F (80C).
- Take the pan from the heat and strain the ice cream custard through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl. Whisk in the vanilla extract, then continue to whisk occasionally as it cools. Once at room temperature, press a layer of cling wrap on top of the custard and refrigerate it until it’s completely chilled. (To speed up the process, you can place the bowl over an ice bath and whisk it as it cools down.)
- When the custard is chilled, drain the juices from the chopped peaches and whisk the peach juice into the custard. Coarsely mash the peaches a few times, so they break down a little bit.
- Churn the ice cream according to your ice cream maker’s instructions. When the ice cream is almost set and has just a few more minutes before it’s finished, add the chopped peaches and churn until the ice cream is finished.
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