Beating the Heat with Lazy Ice Cream

Maria SpeckThe past few weeks have been hot and humid in Boston, at times prohibitively so. This is the time of year when I wonder about my chosen career as a food writer. As I stand in my kitchen from early morning to evenings, with only a window shaker in the next room, my body starts to lose its ability to even perceive heat. I sometimes watch the AC unit losing its battle against my oven on high gear and the gas flames on the stove top. Did I mention that I have the most beautiful sunny kitchen?

It is then, that I dream of the beach. And of swimming. In the ocean. In my mom’s native Greece. To make these dreams last, I feed myself. With the food of my childhood dreams. They pretty much always include chilled watermelon and ice cream. Not at the same time but often on the same day. Greek yogurt ice cream. It’s the ice cream for lazy people, and it helps to keep you going.

As a sacrifice to you, dear readers, I ate a lot more ice cream than normal over the past month or so. The result is the creation of an intensely flavorful rosemary-infused Greek yogurt ice cream with orange marmalade. It is rich and creamy but not too sweet, and highly aromatic: with the proud scent of garden-fresh rosemary, notes of beautiful bittersweet orange marmalade, and with a hint of honey.

This is one easy ice cream which is why I was able to make it in the midst of sweltering heat and grueling recipe testing for the next book. Just make the infusion, as in step 1, a day or two earlier. Then, your ice cream will be a cinch to whirl together, and will taste much better too as the herbal scent permeates the cream. It has a dash of Grand Marnier (optional). Alcohol lowers the freezing point of ice cream which results in a smoother texture without the use of additives. And with freshly minced rosemary this concoction kicks ass.

Serve this frozen treat with a thin crisp almond cookie. Or, for a more nutritious lunch on a superhot day, allow a scoop of the ice cream to melt onto a bowl of plain Greek yogurt. Add a handful of chopped honeyed fruit—heaven!

If you have a minute, I would like to hear from you. Do you like rosemary? How about bittersweet orange marmalade? Have you made your own Greek yogurt ice cream before? And if you try this one, I would love to hear from you too. Thank you!

Rosemary-infused Greek Yogurt Ice Cream with Orange Marmalade

Makes about 2 pints

1 cup heavy whipping cream
3 (7-inch) twigs fresh rosemary, rinsed and patted dry
1 1/2 cups whole milk, 2%, or nonfat Greek yogurt
1/4 cup (70 g) good-quality orange marmalade, plus a few pieces of the rind for garnish
2 tablespoons (40 g) honey
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier or other good-quality orange liqueur, more to drizzle
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 Start the day before or at least 10 hours ahead: Add the heavy cream to a small heavy-bottomed saucepan. Break 2 of the twigs in half and crush them a bit in your fist before adding them to the pan as well. Bring the cream just to a simmer over medium to medium-high heat, stirring and pressing on the rosemary with a wooden spoon to release its aromatic oils, about 3 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and set aside for 20 minutes, pressing on the twigs once or twice more. Strain the cream straight into the bowl you will use for mixing the ingredients together later (to saves dishes), again pressing on the herbs. Discard the twigs. Cover and chill for at least 1 1/2 hours — the longer the better as this intensifies the scent.

2 To make the ice cream, add the remaining ingredients to the bowl with the infused cream. Mince the leaves of the remaining rosemary twig until you have 1 teaspoon and add to the bowl as well. Beat the mixture, using a wooden spoon, until well blended. Cover with a lid or with plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. (If you don’t have an ice cream maker, transfer the bowl with the ice cream to the freezer. After 2 hours, beat the mixture using a wooden spoon or a hand mixer until smooth while scraping down the sides. This prevents the formation of ice crystals. Return the bowl to the freezer and repeat 1 or 2 more times until frozen, about 6 hours (depending on your freezer).

3 About 15 minutes before serving, remove the ice cream from the freezer to soften. Scoop into bowls, topped with a few strands of marmalade rind, a leaf of rosemary, and a drizzle more liqueur if you like.

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The aroma of rosemary can vary. I tested this recipe both with my own mild garden rosemary and a more pronounced store-bought rosemary. I like the scent to be confident, to balance the sweetness of the marmalade and the honey. It worked well with both kinds.
If your twigs are short, use a few more for a total length of about 20 inches.
You can always taste your infusion, and if you find it too strong, reduce the minced leaves (from 1) to 1/2 teaspoon. Do keep in mind that some of the aroma fades during freezing.

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