Chamomile Buttermilk Ice Cream: Like a Little Bit of Heaven in Your Freezer

chamomile buttermilk ice creamI’ve never been a big chamomile tea drinker, I think because herbal teas have such an unmanly reputation. Which is weird because it’s most well known as a sleep aid and men have got to sleep, too. Believe me. I guess it’s because it’s made from flowers. But beer’s made from hops which are also flowers. What I’m trying to say here is that I don’t have a ton of experience with chamomile tea.

However, Elizabeth made this buttermilk ice cream with chamomile last week and it was revelation. The chamomile is sweet and a little flowery, but the tanginess of the buttermilk provides a nice counterbalance, and the overall effect for me was something like a cheesecake flavored ice cream. It had a wonderful, silky texture and I think this would be great on a pie, too. Maybe for Thanksgiving.

We served the ice cream atop a slice of this ginger-lemon quick bread, but it is also excellent on it’s own.

Chamomile Buttermilk Ice Cream

1 1/2 cups cream
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
3/4 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 bags chamomile tea

Heat the cream over medium heat in a heavy-bottomed large sauce pan. Tie the tea bags around the handle, making sure they are submerged. Just as the cream starts to steam, remove from heat and set aside to steep for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine 1/4 cup of the sugar and the egg yolks in a small bowl. Once the cream is infused with chamomile, add the remaining sugar and reheat the cream until it is again starting to steam, and then turn heat to low. Squeeze out the tea bags and set aside. Stirring constantly, add 1/4 cup of the hot cream into the yolks. When it’s fully incorporated, add another 1/4 cup, and then another. The idea here is to temper the eggs so that they don’t cook when added to the hot cream. Once they are tempered, whisk the eggs into the cream. Then cook the cream on low, stirring constantly, for five minutes, until the mixture has thickened and coats the back of a wooden spoon.

Remove the cream mixture from heat and stir in the buttermilk. Pour the custard into a bowl, and then stir over an ice bath to chill. Conversely, you can chill overnight. Once the custard is fully chilled, process according to your ice cream maker’s instructions. Cure the ice cream for another 3 hours, and serve.

Looking for more holiday dessert ideas? Check out these great Family Kitchen recipes:

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