Apricot Basil Ice Cream

Admittedly, it all started with apricot curd. I know, I know...more curd? You must think I've gone mad. But consider the humble apricot, whose thrilling tang and sultry sweetness lies pretty much dormant until cooked. Rhubarb is much the same, and you'll remember how that turned out - so can you blame me for trying again? No, you can't. And let me tell you, that apricot curd was really, really good.

But then it got really, really hot in DC. When it's 100 degrees out with 99% humidity, it's hard to rationalize making anything but cold soup and ice cream. So I turned back to my humble apricots, wondering if I could turn them into something sweet, tangy, and frozen.

I did so with the help of my summer partner in crime, the ice cream king himself, David Lebovitz. Of course, David has an apricot ice cream recipe. But his is eggless, and after tasting that amazing curd, I knew I wanted my ice cream be similarly rich and yolky. I figured with all that richness, I'd need some contrast, so I decided to add in some basil. From there, things sort of figured themselves out. Now there's apricot basil ice cream in the freezer, and it's taking my every ounce of self control not to polish it off right now. You know wha.....



Apricot Basil Ice Cream

1/2 cup water 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar 10 small basil leaves (use the plant's inner leaves, which have a more delicate flavor); if using larger leaves, use only 5 1 pound fresh apricots (I needed 9 sizable fruits) 1 cup heavy cream 2 egg yolks juice of a small lemon wedge

In a small saucepan over medium heat, simmer water, sugar, and basil leaves until sugar melts and basil goes limp, about 5 minutes. Turn off heat and let sugar-water mixture steep 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, halve the apricots by slicing along their dimple all the way around. Remove the pits, which should slip out easily. Slice each half into 2 or 3 pieces. By now the basil mixture should be finished; remove basil leaves, pressing against the side of the pan with the back of the spoon to coax all the flavor out of them. Discard basil.

Transfer apricot pieces into saucepan containing basil-infused syrup. Return heat to medium, and cook until apricot pieces are soft and tender, about 8 minutes. Set pan aside and bring to room temperature.

If you have a hand blender, use it to puree the apricot mixture right in the pan until smooth. Alternatively, puree apricots in blender or food processor. Transfer apricot mixture to bowl of double boiler or, if you don't have one, transfer apricot mixture to a metal bowl, and add egg yolks one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Set bowl over a small saucepan with a couple inches of water in it, turn heat to medium, and begin heating apricot mixture over water, stirring thoroughly and often. After about 7 minutes over the simmering water, apricot mixture should begin to thicken. It will only thicken slightly, never getting as viscous as creme anglaise or pudding. The whole thing should be done after 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in lemon juice.

Pour cream into large bowl and set strainer over the bowl. Pour apricot custard through strainer into cream. Press on any solids left behind, then discard. Stir custard and cream together until they turn a uniform shade of light orange. Chill thoroughly.

Process ice cream in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions.