Jeni’s Splendid: Sweet Basil & Honeyed Pine Nut Ice Cream

It’s all rather serendipitous, actually. I had no intention of becoming ice cream obsessed; it just happened. First, I won an ice cream maker from Heather. I  started dabbling and sharing my creations with friends. Shortly after that I moderated a panel for McMillen Health about sustainable food economies, and one of the panelists mentioned Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. How I hadn’t heard of this company before is beyond me, but let’s just say it came at precisely the right time and created an ice cream monster. I want to be a world famous ice cream maker!

Earlier this week, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home arrived on my doorstep and it’s beautiful. Hard bound, covered in delicious pictures of brightly colored ice creams and treats, it’s the kind of recipe book you read from cover to cover, and I intend to. I’ve read every recipe title and after narrowing it down to five, Jon and I chose this one as our first, primarily because we had most of the ingredients on hand. Fresh basil from the garden- check. Pine nuts- check! And off we went.

The creamy base, infused with fresh basil, gives off just the right hint of basil smell before it hits your lips. The honeyed pine nuts add a salty sweet crunch that complements the sweet creamy base. It’s complex, yet simple. Jeni calls it a “straight-from-the-farmer’s market flavors that [she’s] built [her] reputation on.” I can see why. I would never have dreamed of making ice cream with basil or pine nuts, but I gotta say, it simply works.

Sweet Basil and Honeyed Pine Nut Ice Cream

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 Tbsp. plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 ounces (3 Tbsp.) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 1/14 cups heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. light corn syrup
  • a large handful of fresh basil leaves, roughly torn into small pieces
  • 1/3 cup Honey Pine Nut Pralines (recipe below)

Preparation:

Mix about 2 Tbsp. mile with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry. Whisk the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth.

Combine the remaining milk, the cream, sugar, and corn syrup in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry.

Bring the mixture back to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring with a heatproof spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.

Gradually whisk the hot milk into the cream cheese until smooth. Add the basil. Cover the mixture and place in the freezer for 30 minutes to chill.

Strain out the basil. Pour the ice cream base into the frozen canister and spin until thick and creamy.

Pack the ice cream into a storage container, folding in the honey pine nut pralines as you go. Press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.

Honey Nut Pralines

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 2 teaspoons light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon unsalted butter, melted
  • pinch of sea salt

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the nuts with the remaining ingredients in a bowl, tossing to coat. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the nuts on baking sheet and bake for 8 minutes. Stir and bake for another 5 to 6 minutes, stirring twice; the nuts should look bubbly and somewhat dry. Remove from the oven and let cool completely, stirring the nuts every couple of minutes to break them up.

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