I know, I hear you. “Jess, it’s too cold for ice cream.” Whatever.
A saffron-tinged rice pudding I had recently at an Indian place had me obsessing about saffron ice cream. I happen to have a sizeable saffron stash donated by two friends who traveled to India and one who sent me some from Spain, cardamom leftover from my last trip to Big John’s PFI, and a gorgeous bag of whole vanilla beans from Penzey’s . . .but it was only when I started stirring that I realized I was making an ice cream with the three most expensive spices in the world.
I guess I know what I’ll serve next time the prince of Dubai stops by. Does Dubai have a prince?
This is the ice cream maker I have.
Note the size of the spoon (this is a great one my grandmother Merle handed down) and the bowl. This is outrageously rich (and delicious) ice cream, so small quantities should suffice.
Recipe for Saffron, Cardamom, and Vanilla Ice Cream
Recipe 69 of 365
Buying spices from bulk bins (in small quantities) is the best way to ensure their freshness, and typically costs less than buying them pre-packaged.
Notes: You will need an ice cream maker for this recipe, and you’ll need to start the day before you want to serve it. Also, coking the mixture too long will cause the eggs to curdle, and will ruin the ice cream. Now is a good time to invest in a good digital thermometer.
TIME: 30 minutes active time
MAKES: 6 to 8 small servings
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, crushed
2 cardamom pods, crushed
1 (3”) piece whole vanilla bean
4 large egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Place the cream in a small saucepan with the saffron and (all parts of the) crushed cardamom pods. Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise with a small, sharp knife, and scrape the seeds into the cream. Add the pods themselves, bring the cream just to a simmer over high heat, remove from the heat, and set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
Prepare an ice bath: Fill your largest mixing bowl halfway with ice water, and place another large bowl inside it. Place a fine-mesh strainer in the dry bowl; you’ll need it later.
In a medium saucepan, stir the yolks with a whisk until combined. Add the sugar in a slow, steady stream while you whisk, and whisk until the mixture has thickened and is lighter in color. Stir in the salt. Add the warm spiced cream mixture (with the spices) to the egg/sugar mixture, stirring as you add it, and stir until completely uniform. Place the pot over medium heat and cook the liquid, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, until the mixture reaches 170 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, or until the foam subsides and the liquid is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
As soon as the mixture reaches 170 degrees, pour it through the strainer into the dry bowl. Remove the strainer, and stir the hot liquid until it cools to room temperature. Remove the bowl from the ice bath, dry the bottom, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.