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Orange Earl Grey Ice Cream

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Yields about 1 quart.

  • by David Lebovitz from Fine Cooking
    Issue 99

This ice cream recipe uses David Lebovitz's simple formula to create your own custom ice-cream flavor. In this creation, both orange zest and citrusy Earl Grey tea leaves infuse the cream.

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • Table salt
  • 1/4 cup loose Earl Grey tea
  • Finely grated zest of 4 medium oranges
  • 5 large egg yolks

In a medium saucepan, mix 1 cup of the cream with the milk, sugar, and a pinch of salt. Warm the cream mixture over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and tiny bubbles begin to form around the edge of the pan, 3 to 4 minutes.

Stir in the tea leaves and orange zest. Cover, remove from the heat, and let sit for 1 hour. Taste and let sit longer if you want a stronger flavor.

Prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl with several inches of ice water. Set a smaller metal bowl (one that holds at least 1-1/2 quarts) in the ice water. Pour the remaining cup of cream into the inner bowl (this helps the custard cool quicker when you pour it in later). Set a fine strainer on top. Whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl.

Rewarm the cream mixture over medium-high heat until tiny bubbles begin to form around the edge of the pan, 1 to 2 minutes. In a steady stream, pour half of the warm cream mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly to prevent the eggs from curdling.

Pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heatproof rubber spatula until the custard thickens slightly (it should be thick enough to coat the spatula and hold a line drawn through it with a finger), 4 to 8 minutes. An instant-read thermometer should read 175° to 180°F at this point. Don’t let the sauce overheat or boil, or it will curdle. Immediately strain the custard into the cold cream in the ice bath. Press firmly on the tea leaves and orange zest in the strainer with the spatula to extract as much flavor as possible.

Cool the custard to below 70°F by stirring it over the ice bath. Refrigerate the custard until completely chilled, at least 4 hours. Then freeze the custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Transfer the just-churned ice cream to an air-tight container, and freeze for at least 4 hours or up to 2 weeks.

Photo: Scott Phillips

The custard freezes beautifully (in a Cuisineart i.c. maker) and you can alter the amount of tea & orange to taste. I love earl grey, and I drink it strong with milk & sugar, so I steeped 6 tea bags in the milk & squeezed them out. I used 1/2 a vanilla bean, which was plenty, and the rind from some tangerines + a drop of orange extract. Taste the custard when it's cool to make sure you have the right flavor balance. I also only cooled the custard in the fridge for about an hour (after the ice bath). It worked just fine. So long as it's cold when in goes in the maker, you're golden.

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