When it comes to ice cream, I don’t think any flavor is lighter or brighter than lemon. Lemon curd ice cream is a flavor I came up with last June for my honey’s birthday dessert and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. It is creamy, dreamy and so pleasantly tart. The fresh lemon flavor really shines thanks to the addition of lemon curd to the ice cream base and fresh lemon juice right before churning. Let’s make some, shall we?
Just to be clear here, I mean ice cream. Not sorbet or sherbet. When’s the last time you saw lemon ice cream at the store? I’m guessing never. You need this in your life.
Of all the desserts in this world, I think ice cream might just be my favorite. Not just to eat, but to create. I’m always coming up with flavor ideas and scribbling them down, but this flavor was actually my husband’s idea! Thanks, honey!
So, about that birthday dessert: At Jason’s request, I made lemon scones, lemon curd and lemon ice cream. Lemonpalooza, here we come!
We split the scones open, smeared them with lemon curd, sandwiched them together with lemon ice cream, stuck a candle on top and had the most incredible, tart and tangy birthday dessert. Oh man, it was so good.
The other day while making a batch of homemade lemon curd I decided to toss in some thyme, on a whim of course, and I really loved the subtle herby taste it added. Lemons and thyme are such complimentary flavors, and while you might think the idea of adding an herb to your lemon curd and/or ice cream is odd, just trust me on this. There are so many citrus/herb combos in dessert making, especially in curds. It just adds a subtle hint of flavor and makes you wonder. What my dad and I would call a certain je ne sais quoi (while giggling and using our best French accents, of course).
So, just to gild the lily a bit, I turned this ice cream into ice cream sandwiches. Soft, puffy, chewy ginger cookies — not molasses spiced, just ground ginger and finely chopped crystallized ginger — with this tart, creamy ice cream in the middle. The ginger and lemon are so complimentary and just work so beautifully together to brighten their individual flavors. When combined, the lemon is somehow more tart and the ginger is more spicy. True kitchen magic.
The cookie recipe I used is from my buddy Rebecca’s cookbook, “The Cookie Book,” and she is the fabulous writer, blogger and photographer behind displacedhousewife.com an award-winning blog that you MUST follow, right after you go buy that cookie book. The recipe for her mandarin orange cream sammies can be found on page 152. I swapped out the flavors in her recipe for ginger, but otherwise kept it exactly the same. Her recipes are tried and true and just brilliant. She is a true cookie master! (This is not an ad, or a sponsored post. Just a friend and fan who LOVES her book and blog.)
Finally, as with all recipes, I urge you to read the recipe all the way through before you begin. Make sure you have all ingredients, tools and materials, and enough time! This has a few steps, but none are difficult. Happy churning!
Lemon Curd Ice Cream
Servings: About 2.5 quarts
For the Ice Cream:
3 cups half-and-half
3 cups heavy cream
9 egg yolks (whites reserved for another use)
1 cup lemon curd (recipe below)
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
Place fine mesh strainer over large bowl or a large, 8-cup measuring cup, set aside.
Place half-and-half and sugar in medium sauce pan over medium heat.
Place egg yolks in large bowl and whisk for about 1 minute until light and frothy.
Once half-and-half mixture is hot and just below a boil, drizzle hot mixture slowly into eggs while whisking constantly, one ladle at a time until the entire mixture is combined.
Pour this back into saucepan and continue to cook until thickened slightly and it is just coating the back of your spoon, about 2 to 4 minutes.
Once thickened, pour through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl or an 8-cup glass measuring cup/pitcher (this makes it really easy to pour into ice cream maker later). Discard any solids or curdled bits that are left behind in the strainer.
Whisk in lemon curd, vanilla extract and heavy cream until completely combined.
Allow this mixture to cool in the fridge for several hours or overnight.
Just before churning, add the fresh lemon juice and process according to your ice cream maker‘s instructions.
I use a Cuisinart ICE 100, and this recipe churns in two batches, about 4 cups each. For each batch, I add two tablespoons of the fresh lemon juice right into the maker with the ice cream base. The reason you want to add it just before churning is that the lemon juice will curdle your base if it is allowed to sit for too long after adding the lemon juice. So if you happen to have a huge ice cream maker that will hold this whole amount (lucky you!), just add all of the lemon juice at once just before churning.
When done churning you will have a soft serve consistency. Transfer to freezer safe containers (I use metal loaf pans), and press a layer of plastic wrap directly on top of ice cream to prevent the ice cream from picking up any unwanted flavors from the freezer.
This ice cream stays quite scoopable unless you have your freezer set to a crazy low temp, but if you want to pull it out about 5 to 10 minutes before serving it will make it that much easier to scoop. And definitely let it get soft if you’re planning to squish it between two cookies!
For the Lemon Curd (makes 1 1/2 cups):
1/2 cup powdered sugar
zest from one full lemon
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice, plus one tablespoon to add at the end
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, cut into 16 small cubes
optional: a few sprigs of fresh thyme
Combine powdered sugar, zest and lemon juice in saucepan. If using thyme, add that now as well. Stir to combine and place over medium heat.
Crack eggs into a medium bowl and whisk vigorously until light and frothy, about 1 minute.
When lemon juice mixture is very hot, take a small ladle and slowly drizzle hot mixture into eggs while whisking constantly. Add slowly, one ladle at a time, until it is all combined. Pour this mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until you have a thick, pudding-like consistency that coats the back of your spoon.
Pour mixture through fine mesh strainer set over a clean bowl. Push or whisk mixture through the strainer and discard any solid bits, including thyme, left in the strainer.
Add one small cube of butter at a time, and whisk until it is completely combined before adding another cube.
Once all butter is combined, add 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice and whisk once more to combine.
Place in jar with tightly fitting lid, or in a bowl covered with plastic wrap. Make sure plastic lies directly against the surface of the lemon curd to prevent a skin from forming.