Blueberry and Basil Ice Creams

© 2012

Leap Day births, deaths and anniversaries are just odd. In fact, Leap Day is odd. Although the years continue to pass Leap Day events can only be celebrated, honored, remembered or revered once every four years.

Yesterday was the first anniversary of Mom’s death as she died Leap Day 2008. We took the day to be with my Dad and plant some plants on her gravesite. In remembering her I remembered how much she loved ice cream. Ice cream is one of those treats that almost everyone likes and there are so many flavors and flavor combinations. Howard Johnson was known for his 28 flavors. To one up (actually 3 up) Howard Johnson, Baskin Robbins had its original 31 flavors. Then, there is Ben & Jerry’s with their unusual flavors and combinations and this does not include the varieties and flavors in other countries. The possibilities are simply limitless. There is just something about ice cream, flavor pairings and combinations. So, in remembrance of Mom, I am posting two ice cream recipes. Because Leap Day is odd, I selected the Basil Ice Cream recipe because it is … well…unusual. The paring of the Basil Ice Cream with the Blueberry Ice Cream, however, goes amazingly well. For an unusual and tasty treat, give these a try.

Basil Ice Cream


  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup well-chilled heavy cream


Bring milk, basil, 1/4 cup sugar, and a pinch of salt to a boil in a 2-quart heavy saucepan, stirring, then remove from heat and let steep 30 minutes. Transfer to a blender (reserve saucepan) and blend until basil is finely ground, about 1 minute.

Beat together yolks and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until thick and pale, about 1 minute. Add milk mixture in a stream, beating until combined well. Pour mixture into reserved saucepan and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until mixture coats back of spoon and registers 175°F on thermometer (do not let boil). Immediately remove from heat and pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a metal bowl. Set bowl in a larger bowl of ice water and stir until cold, 10 to 15 minutes.

Stir in cream and freeze in ice cream maker. Transfer ice cream to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden, at least 2 hours.

Blueberry Ice Cream


  • 4 cups picked over blueberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • the zest of 1 navel orange, removed in strips with a vegetable peeler
  • 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier, or other orange-flavored liqueur
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup half-and-half


In a large saucepan combine the blueberries, the sugar, the zest, and 1/4 cup water, boil the mixture, covered, for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, and simmer it, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Discard the zest and purée the mixture in batches in a blender or food processor. Transfer the purée to a bowl and whisk in the Grand Marnier, the lemon juice, the vanilla, the salt, the heavy cream, and the half-and-half. Force the mixture through a very fine sieve set over another bowl and chill it, covered, for 1 hour, or until it is cold. Freeze the mixture in an ice-cream freezer according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

To Serve: Scoop one scoop of blueberry ice cream into a wine glass, martini glass or the like. Scoop one scoop of basil ice cream on top of the scoop of blueberry ice cream. Finish with a sprig of fresh basil and serve.

P.S. Don’t tell your friends the ice cream flavors and watch the look on their faces as they try to figure out the basil ice cream.

Food for thoughts

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