While I’m all for over-the-top, multi-ingredient ice creams, some times a bit of simplicity is best. When a co-worker mentioned that her peach trees were flourishing, I jumped on the opportunity to beg for a handful of leaves. I had read that peach leaves impart a subtle, bitter-almondy flavor in custards. I wanted to try it in ice cream, and I was fortunate enough to obtain some unsprayed, fresh, young leaves. The steeping milk needs to be watched fairly closely. The first batch I let steep for 50 minutes and it was way too bitter (I should have known better—I bit into a whole leaf and almost choked on the bitterness). I tossed it and started again, letting it steep half the time, tasting it every ten minutes to make sure it didn’t turn bitter again. The end result is a lovely, almond-scented ice cream. Perfect to accompany some tea cakes on a hot day.
Peach Leaf Ice Cream
Make about 1 quart
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- 3/4 cup sugar
- a large pinch of salt
- 12 unsprayed peach leaves, coarsely chopped
- 6 large egg yolks
- In a 4-quart saucepan, stir all the ingredients, except the yolks, together over medium-high heat. Bring just to a boil, remove from heat and cover. Taste every ten minutes, and when you can clearly taste the almond, strain out the peach leaves before it gets bitter.
- Reheat the cream mixture over medium-high heat. When just starting to steam, but before boiling, slowly drizzle the mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Return everything back to the pan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a heat-resistant spatula, until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
- Strain the mixture into a stainless steel bowl. Cool over an ice bath, then refrigerate until well chilled, about 3 hours. Churn according to your ice cream maker’s instructions. Store in a shallow container, covered with plastic wrap and topped with an airtight lid, in the freezer for up to a month.