Abi’s Lavender Pistachio

My friend Abi is not a Francophile, per se. She is an expert on French and Francophone culture, so much so that these days she spends a lot of time in France, finishing her dissertation. I often forget custard is French in origin, and I don’t know if pistachios and lavender are especially French, but it seems that way, doesn’t it?


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Francis Fig and Goat Cheese

Summer is the ice cream season and yet I didn’t put up any posts. That’s in part because I was busy making some old favorites as flavors and in part because my writing was mostly taking the form of academic writing. Not nearly as fun as ice cream.

Figs are still in season and this is an old favorite of mine. When I lived in California two of my closest friends, a married couple, had neighbors whose fig tree was heavy with fruit. They gave me some delicious figs that I added to a goat cheese base for the most Bay Area flavor imaginable (it’s also reminiscent of an earlier flavor I did, but with a different method). The figs I get here in the Midwest aren’t as great as those were, but every time I have one I think of the Francises and their generosity.


This was the original California version.

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3Lemon w/Rosemary Shortbread

I have skimped on biographical details here, in part because it’s not relevant and in part because it’s so easy to figure out with a bit of Googling. But, I was very happy to offer my ice cream making skills for my law school’s public interest auction a few months ago. The proceeds of the auction go to fund first years in their summer jobs at public interest jobs — a cause I care a great deal about, as a long-term public interest attorney.

I auctioned off an ice cream making tutorial, complete with four flavors of the winners’ choice, and cocktails. Four graduating women won the prize. Amidst drinks and my two favorite flavors (J & A — you remain super popular), I came up with a new one at the winners’ behest. It mixes a lovely lemon base with a delicious shortbread mix-in courtesy of Melissa Clark and the New York Times — and is sure to be a crowd pleaser. Better still, you only need half the shortbread from the recipe; you can snack on the rest.


The finished product

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Marxist Meyer Lemon and Crème Fraîche

One of the benefits of being friends with a food writer and cookbook author is you know you’re getting honest criticism. But when it came time to come up with a flavor that did justice to her talent, I took my time. The result — a blend of Meyer lemons, the classiest commonly available citrus (second classiest: blood oranges; third: key limes) and crème fraîche — turned out well. The zest in the ice cream base slightly heightens the flavor of the curd. You can swap out regular lemons and sour cream for those two, but it won’t be as sophisticated.


Shades of yellow.

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Erika’s Earl Grey and Honey


Floating tea and honey.

Tea is a central part of Indian food and culture, but I am one of those Indian-Americans who almost never drinks tea, much to my parents’ bemusement. I think I fell into coffee too early.

One of my friends suggested I try an Earl Grey ice cream. I paired it with honey instead of sugar, and while you can find any number of similar recipes online, this one is sure to please.

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Sharpe Preserved Lemon


Pale lemon.

One of my friends has spent a lot of time in the Middle East and North Africa, where preserved lemons are de rigueur, and she was tickled when I told her I had made preserved lemons. I did it because I had too many lemons on hand and it seemed like a fun project. I haven’t had the chance to use them in cooking, but of course I wanted to see how it work in ice cream.

Preserved lemons have a bit more umami than regular lemons, so it’s a different flavor profile than a standard lemon ice cream. The recipe I used had peppercorns and bay leaves as well. Also unlike, a regular lemon ice cream, this has a salty tinge that, when combined with the lemon and other notes, is delightfully unusual and unclassifiable. Much like Ms. Sharpe herself.


In its raw form.

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Ben’s Orange Curd with Chocolate


Not a cake at all, tbh.

My friend Ben loves the English dessert Jaffa Cake, which you can’t really get here in the States. It’s a sponge cake with orange jelly and chocolate coating. Jelly is a bit outside of my skill set but I decided to do orange curd instead. I make lemon curd rather frequently but I might even like the orange curd more. Chocolate shavings completed the illusion.


Ben’s Chocolate with Orange Curd

1 ½ cups milk

1 ½ cups cream

½ cup sugar

1 vanilla bean

3 egg yolks

½ teaspoon salt

4 oz finely chopped bittersweet chocolate


For the curd

8 tablespoons butter

3 egg yolks

¾ cup sugar

¾ cup orange juice, strained

2 tablespoons cornstarch

¼ teaspoon salt

zest of one orange

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Vintage Banana Pudding


Cookies and cream, of a sort.

I started baking in earnest a decade ago at my first job at Vintage/Anchor Books, a part of the Knopf Group (itself a part of Random House — now Penguin Random House), because I had a group of people to experiment on. In those days I was particularly fond of banana pudding, likely because of the Magnolia Bakery empire, and I often made it for work events. I haven’t made it in years, but there’s something so satisfying about the flavor and texture combinations that I felt like trying it out in ice cream form. You can buy Nilla wafers, or use the Serious Eats recipe, which you’ll only need half of for the ice cream.

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Beer in a beer glass.

Beer ice cream has a long history. It’s not necessarily my first choice, but there’s something substantial about it. I mean, two great things that go great together — unlike wine sorbets and whiskey ice creams, which, while fun, don’t have the sort of everyday feel that ice cream and beer both have.

I picked a local beer that one of my closest friends, whom we refer to by his initials (BCB), once jokingly called “Snowberon.” It’s a wheat beer made in MI (like both BCB and myself) and I’ve used its initials as well in the naming. But you can really use any lighter beer. Darker beer recipes are for another day.



2 cups milk

2 cups cream

½ cup sugar

1 teaspoon orange zest

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 12-oz bottle of beer (a wheat, blonde, or pale ale will work best)

½ teaspoon salt

2 egg yolks


Combine the beer and sugar in a medium pot and heat over medium heat until it starts to steam. It can simmer but shouldn’t boil. Let it cook for half an hour. Add 2 cups cream, 1 cup milk, orange zest, black pepper, and salt.

Whisk egg yolks in a medium bowl. It’s OK if there are some traces of egg white — no need to be a perfectionist — but try to minimize that. Place one cup milk in a large bowl and position a strainer above.

When the dairy mixture is hot but not yet simmering (honestly, if it starts to simmer a little, you’ll be OK), slowly ladle about a cup into the egg yolks, whisking with one hand while ladling with the other to temper the yolks.

Once complete, transfer the yolk mixture to the pot, and then return to medium heat. Stir the mixture with a rubber spatula, scraping the bottom at times. Once the custard is thick enough to slightly coat the back of the spatula (another sign: you will start to notice that scraping the bottom of the pot encounters some solid residue), remove from heat and pour through the strainer into the milk.

Place the bowl in an ice bath to cool for thirty minutes (if you’re too lazy, it’s ok to just do this on the counter). Then, cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a lid and refrigerate for at least two hours before churning.

When chilled, process the base in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Freeze for eight hours.

Nick’s Anise Crunch



Some of the caramel shards will dissolve, but others will stay as a nice crunch.

I was literally chilling this base on the countertop when my friend Nick asked “Have you ever thought about doing an anise flavor?” So it was certainly one of my easier naming conventions. Anise is a flavor I’m fond of, but it can be overpowering if you’re not careful. I had a couple of ideas, but I didn’t want to dilute the flavor with another element. I came up with using caramel shards (some of which will dissolve into liquid) to add sweetness, smokiness, and a bit of texture.

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