Native to the Mediterranean, bay leaves, sometimes called sweet bay or bay laurel, have a subtle and slightly floral flavor. The most common variety is Turkish, which is available in most grocery stores. Steeping too long can cause the flavor to be slightly bitter, so it’s wise to taste as you go. If you happen to find California bay leaves, the flavor will be much stronger than the Turkish bay leaves that are typically available, so you will only need to steep the leaves for a fraction of the time.
Sweet Bay Leaf Ice Cream
1 1/2 cups (12 fl. oz./375 ml) whole milk
1 1/2 cups (12 fl. oz./375 ml) heavy cream
4 large bay leaves
6 egg yolks
3/4 cup (6 oz./185 g) sugar
In a saucepan, combine the milk, cream and bay leaves. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring
frequently with a wooden spoon, until bubbles form around the edges, 4 to 5 minutes. Do not allow to come to a boil. Remove from heat and let stand for 2 hours to steep, tasting the milk mixture occasionally to monitor the flavor development.
In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until well blended. Return the saucepan to medium heat and cook, stirring frequently, until bubbles form around the edges, 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat. Whisk the egg yolk mixture while slowly pouring in the hot milk mixture. When almost all of the hot
liquid has been added, slowly pour the warmed yolk mixture back into the saucepan, still whisking. Place the saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, 4 to 5 minutes. Do not boil.
Pour the hot custard through a sieve into a clean bowl, gently pressing the liquid through the sieve and leaving any grainy solids and the bay leaves in the sieve.
Prepare an ice bath by partially filling a large bowl with ice water. Nestle the bowl with the custard in the ice bath and let cool for 30 to 45 minutes. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the
custard and on top of the bowl. Refrigerate for 3 to 24 hours.
Prepare an ice cream maker with at least a 1-quart (1-l) capacity according to the manufacturer’s
directions. Pour the custard into the ice cream maker and churn until the custard reaches the consistency of thick whipped cream. Transfer to a plastic freezer container, cover tightly, and freeze until firm, at least 3 hours or up to 3 days. Makes about 1 quart (1 l).
For more than 60 recipes and ideas for scoops, shakes, sundaes, sandwiches and special-occasion treats, check out our cookbook Frozen Desserts.