As I see it, there is often a great divide between desserts: light and refreshing versus rich and decadent. Lemon ice cream paradoxically defies these categories, as it managed to be both light and rich, creamy yet refreshing at once. It retains the potency and palate-cleansing aspects of sorbet but also the richness of ice cream. The best comparison I can make taste-wise is frozen lemon curd, which sounds awesome to me.
It is ice cream for between the seasons, when
we’re almost out of winter and awaiting spring jk New Orleans doesn’t experience winter and our spring lasts for about five seconds before melting into a sweltering summer that doesn’t end. But the weather has been slightly pleasant lately so I guess we’re somewhat in-between seasons? Regardless, it’s the perfect display of citrus (winterish but tastes like summer) in a warm weather-friendly form.
Plus strawberries (which, apologies, probably aren’t in season yet in most normal places) make the perfect topping.
Lemon Ice Cream
adapted from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home
Makes about 1 quart
2 t0 3 lemons
2 tablespoons sugar
Ice Cream Base
2 cups whole milk, divided
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) cream cheese, softened
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
Zest of 2 lemons (reserved from above)
For the lemon syrup: Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest from 2 of the lemons in large strips and set aside. Squeeze enough juice from the lemons to make 1/2 cup. Combine the lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until all the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat, let cool slightly, and cover and refrigerate until chilled.
For the ice cream base: In a small bowl, whisk 2 tablespoons milk with the cornstarch to make a smooth slurry, making sure there are no lumps.
Whisk the cream cheese and salt together in a medium bowl until smooth.
Fill a large bowl with ice and water.
Combine the remaining milk, cream, sugar, corn syrup, and lemon zest in a large (4-quart) saucepan, bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, and continue boiling for 4 minutes. Remove from heat and slowly whisk in the cornstarch slurry.
Bring the mixture back to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring with a heatproof spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.
Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth.
Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge the tightly sealed bag in the ice bath (don’t submerge the top if you’re paranoid like me). Let stand, adding more ice if needed, until cold, about 30 minutes.
Remove the lemon zest. Pour the ice cream base into the frozen canister and turn on the machine. Pour the lemon syrup through the opening in the top of the machine, and continue to spin until the ice cream is thick and creamy (my machine takes 25-30 minutes).
Pack the ice cream into a storage container, press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze until firm, at least 4 hours. Let the ice cream soften slightly before serving.
Variations: Jeni suggest a few variations and add-ins: candied ginger, crushed Lemonheads candy, crumbled amaretti, or browned slivered almonds. Add whatever you want; lemon is a good base for many different flavors.