Sweet & Simple

The lazy days of summer make me a lazy cook in the kitchen. Unfortunately, my
constant craving for homemade ice cream doesn’t care that I just wanna roll slow. I’ve
tried dozens of different recipes but always return to this gem because a) it’s super simple (requires me to do minimal math) b) it costs about $5 and c) I can add just about anything to it and it remains pretty damn delicious. Sriracha? Yessir! Cardamom? Try cardaNOM! (Oof, that was bad. Sorry.) Anyway, hope you give it a try—and then share some with me.

The Basic Recipe

Total time: About five to nine hours (estimated: 10-15 minutes for base, 30 minutes cool down, four to eight hours inactive, 20 minutes in the ice cream machine).

Makes: A little over a quart…or exactly one quart if you have a habit of over-sampling like me.

The Basic Ingredients:

3 cups half and half

1/2 cup sugar

6 egg yolks

Add for Lemon Basil Ice Cream:

Zest from one large lemon

3 large basil leaves

The Tools

Medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan (make sure it holds at least two quarts)

Wooden spoon

Handheld zester

Medium bowl (preferably metal)


Ice cream maker or blender

Airtight rectangular container

Wax paper

The Soundtrack

Literally any Ray Charles song. My pick is “Night Time is the Right Time”—you’ll be happy you have a wooden spoon to sing into at the 1:25 mark.

The Plan

1. In saucepan over medium-low heat, simmer the half and half with the sugar as well as any flavoring—in this case, the zest of one lemon and three basil leaves—until the sugar is dissolved, about five minutes. Take the pot off of the heat.

2. In a separate bowl (preferably metal), whisk the egg yolks.

3. Whisking constantly, carefully temper the eggs by adding about a third of the hot mixture to the egg yolks. Whisk until the entire mixture becomes warmed. If you have a metal bowl, you can feel the underside to test it out. But if you don’t, (clean) fingers work well, too.

4. Pour the warmed egg mixture into the pot, continuing to whisk constantly. If you don’t keep the mixture moving, the egg yolks can cook into solids.

5. Return the pot back to medium-low heat and stir carefully until the mixture thickens, and holds a line on a wooden spoon.

6. Strain the mixture through a chinois or sieve to separate out any egg solids and flavoring (here, the lemon zest and basil), then pour into a container and cool to room temperature — sticking in an ice bath helps speed this up. Chill in an airtight covered container for a minimum of 4 hours, or (preferably) overnight.

7. Turn your ice cream machine on, then spin the chilled mixture until it begins to pull away from the sides.

Don’t have an ice cream maker? Pour the mixture into ice cube trays and let freeze. Then mix with a blender. The texture won’t be as smooth but you’ll still be eating sugar and fats so who cares, right?

8. Scoop the ice cream into an airtight container, cover with wax paper, and store in the freezer.

The Remix(es):

Here are a few other flavor ideas, featuring ingredients you probably have in your home right now:

• Sriracha Honey (stir in one tablespoon of each during step one for lighter flavor, step six for stronger)

• Chocolate Peanut Butter (add 1/3 cup cocoa powder in step one, stir in one tablespoon slightly warmed peanut butter in step six)

• Vanilla Whiskey (add 1/4 cup whiskey and one tablespoon vanilla in step six)

Add ingredients such as cookies, candies, nuts, or chunks of leftover breakfast waffles (TRY IT!) at the end of step seven, as you are pulling your ice cream out of the canister.

Add layers of a compote or sauce throughout the ice cream during step eight: first add a layer of the flavor to the bottom of the rectangular container, then add a layer of the ice cream, add another layer of flavor, then a layer of ice cream, etc.

Questions? Flavor ideas? Gush about ice cream anytime @jillstrominger.