Basil Gelato (Gelato di basi)
Though it may seem like a surprising ingredient for gelato, basil is actually a member of the mint family. Its powerful flavor creates a wonderfully complex treat that will leave you wanting more.
INGREDIENTS | YIELD: 1 QUART
- 3 cups whole milk
- 1 cup sugar
- Pinch salt
- 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
- 5 large egg yolks
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 3 cups fresh basil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
In a small saucepan, combine the milk, sugar, salt, vanilla bean seeds, and empty bean pod. Stir over medium heat. Once simmering, remove from heat, cover, and allow to steep for 1 hour.
After 1 hour, remove bean pod (save for later use). Reheat milk mixture over medium-low heat.
In a separate bowl, whisk egg yolks. Once milk mixture is hot, temper the yolks by adding half of the mixture into the eggs, whisking constantly. Return mixture to saucepan, and heat until thickened. Pour ½ cup of the heavy cream into a large mixing bowl over an ice bath. Strain custard into the cream.
Blanch the basil in boiling water for 10 seconds, then shock in an ice bath. Towel the leaves dry. Add leaves and remaining ½ cup of heavy cream to blender and process. Add basil mixture and vanilla extract to the prepared custard, allowing the basil to infuse into the mixture. Strain after 2 hours, and place in refrigerator until thoroughly chilled, about 5 hours or overnight.
Add to ice cream maker and follow manufacturer's instructions for freezing. Stop the churning as soon as the gelato is just frozen.
The ancient Greeks and Romans had some odd philosophies when it came to basil. They believed that basil would only grow if loud cursing and shouting accompanied the sowing of the seeds!