Last week I re-discovered my Ice Cream Maker. My children found boxes of homemade ice cream mix while raiding my cupboards and asked how we could make it. It had been so long since I had used the ice cream maker that they didn't even know I had it. After double checking I had all the ingredients and that we could find all the parts to the machine we gave it a try. For something that required no cooking I must say it was mighty tasty but it left me wondering wanting to give real homemade ice cream another try. It had slipped my mind again this week while nursing myself and a couple kids through the latest greatest flu bug when I got a call from my mother. She is always finding interesting recipes and calling me to tell me about them and this time it was about a recipe for ice cream made with tea as the flavor base. Owning a tea company has its advantages because I have access to just about any flavor and type of tea you could imagine and suddenly my ice cream horizons seemed endless. What would I try first? Plain green tea would be to plain. How about using one of our wonderful flavored green teas like Blackberry, Raspberry or Passion Fruit? Then there are the black flavored teas that are just begging to be experimented with like Chocolate Mint, Earl Grey, and so many others. I am going to make it my goal this summer to make as many difference ice creams as I possible and rate them all here. I am starting this experiment with my odds and end of tea that I should clean up and what a wonderful way to use them. This ice cream can be made with any tea except herbals because they will likely cause your custard to curdle.
I browsed thru many recipes online and then referred to my personal library to see what I wanted to use as my base recipe. Eventually I found my "How to Make Ice Cream" book from Cook's Illustrated. I trust them implicitly to give me a recipe that will be full proof because that is what they do. As a side note if you don't have a subscription to Cook's Illustrated you are missing out on the best cooking magazine period. This recipe is adapted from their master ice cream recipe.
Tea Ice Cream
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
5-6 teabags or 5 teaspoons loose tea
Combine milk, cream, 1/2 cup of sugar in a heavy 21/2 quart saucepan. Heat on medium until mixture comes to 175 degrees stirring occasionally. Add tea, cover and remove from heat to allow to steep for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes strain through a fine-mesh strainer to remove tea leaves if you used loose tea, otherwise just remove teabags.
While milk/tea mixture is steeping beat 1/4 cup sugar with egg yolks in a medium bowl until mixture turns a pale yellow and thickens so that it falls from the spoon in ribbons.
After the milk mixture has steeped it needs to be warmed back to 175 degrees. Take 1/2 cup of the milk mixture and slowly trickle it into the yolk/sugar mix while stirring briskly with a whisk. Once the milk is incorporated into the yolks repeat the process this time whisking the yolk mixture in with the remaining milk mixture. Reduce heat to low and bring mixture to 180 degrees, stirring constantly for about 5 minutes. Custard should thicken but not be curdled or boiled.
Remove saucepan from heat and pour through a fine-mesh strainer into a nonreactive bowl or container. Place bowl in an ice bath to quickly chill to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate custard for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.
Pour custard into ice cream maker and churn until frozen but a still a bit soft. I personally like to eat it at this stage but you could place the ice cream in an non reactive container to seal and freeze until firm. Flavor will start to degrade after 2 days.
For green tea ice cream made with Matcha you will skip the steeping time and just stir in 2 tablespoons of Matcha into the sugar and yolk mixture before mixing it with the milk and cream mixture.