Grilled Peaches with Basil Ice Cream and Pine Nut Crocante

I loved everything about this ice cream – the flavor, texture, and the color. I so wanted it to be green (without addition of any food colorings which I avoid whenever possible) that for a moment I thought if I was too hard on the basil. Turned out I had worried for nothing – the basil flavor was delicate enough and not overwhelming. The ice cream was lovely served on top of the grilled peaches brushed with Muscovado sugar and melted butter mixture before grilling and drizzled with good quality balsamic right after. The pine nut brittle was just the right accompaniment. The only thing I regret I didn’t make a double batch of the ice cream, it disappeared so fast…

Basil Ice Cream

I’m submitting this recipe to Ammalu’s Kitchen as an entry for Herb Mania – Basil.

Makes 6 servings; about 1 ½ pints ice cream

For the peaches:

  • 4 tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp packed Muscovado sugar
  • 3 large peaches, ripe but firm
  • Your very best balsamic vinegar (for drizzling)

For the basil ice cream:

  • ½ cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 20 g cut julienne basil leaves (about ½ cup)
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • ½ cup whipping cream
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

For serving:

Make the ice cream:

In a bowl of the food processor, combine ¼ sugar and the basil. Process until very finely chopped.

Prepare an ice bath.

In a large heavy saucepan, combine the basil-sugar mixture and half-and-half. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally; bring just below the boiling point. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks, remaining ¼ cup of the sugar, and the salt to combine well. Very gradually, in a thin stream, whisk in the hot half-and-half. Return the egg yolk mixture into the saucepan. Cook the custard over medium-low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the custard coats the back of the spoon. Quickly strain the custard into a large bowl. Add the whipping cream and whisk to incorporate. Place the bowl with the custard in the ice bath and cool. Chill, covered, in a fridge for at least 4 hours, better overnight.

Right before processing the custard in the ice cream maker, whisk in 1 tbsp of the lemon juice. Whisk energetically to aerate the mixture. Freeze in the ice cream maker. Transfer to containers, cover, and freeze to firm up.

Grill the peaches:

Preheat the grill to medium-high.

In a small saucepan, combine the butter and Muscovado sugar. Heat, stirring, over medium heat until the butter melts.

Cut the peaches in half vertically, remove the stones but leave the skin on. Brush the peaches generously with the butter-sugar mixture. Grill the peaches, cut side down first, for about 3-4 minutes, until grill marks form and the sugar caramelizes. Turn the peaches, cut side up, and grill for another 4 minutes or so, until the peaches are soft when pierced with a skewer. The grilling time depends on the firmness/ripeness of the peaches.

Transfer the peaches to a serving platter. Let stand for several minutes. The peaches are too hot right from the grill, they will melt the ice cream too quickly. Drizzle a little bit of the balsamic over the peaches. Top with the basil ice cream. Serve crocante on the side; or chop it finely and sprinkle over the ice cream.