Tuesday, January 26, 2010

January 17-19, 2010: Saffron icecream

I think the best end to an Indian meal is something milky, cooling and sweet. I've got a few such recipes in my repertoire already, but I wanted to see what David Lebovitz and his Perfect Scoop cookbook could do for me. It turns out he does a fine saffron icecream. The ingredient list looks very much like that of a standard vanilla icecream, with the custard simply being infused with saffron instead of vanilla pods or extract.

In his perfectionist fashion, Lebovitz's recipe involved multiple bowls and saucepans and I couldn't help cutting a few corners. However, I didn't scrimp on the saffron - we received a sizable sample of this pricey spice for Christmas a year ago so I extravagantly doubled the recipe to make a litre of icecream. Actually, it's a rich dessert and a small scoop each after a large meal sufficed, so the original half-litre probably would have fed the six of us.

Saffron has a colour and flavour all its own, and it really permeates the custard. If anything, it reminds me here of honey, sweet and fragrant. I served rosewater-sprinkled orange segments alongside, and their gentle acidity made for a nice contrast.

Saffron icecream
(slightly adapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz, quantity doubled)

1 cup milk
2 cups cream
1 cup castor sugar
scant teaspoon of saffron threads
6 egg yolks

In a medium saucepan over low-medium heat, dissolve the sugar in the milk and cream. Take the saucepan off the heat and stir through the saffron. Refrigerate the mixture for 4 hours.

Strain the mixture to retrieve the saffron threads. Keep the threads in a medium bowl, and reheat the infused cream in the saucepan. Whisk the egg yolks in a small bowl and whisk in a little of the infused cream. Whisk the egg mixture back into the saucepan and cook the mixture, stirring continuously, until the custard thickens.

Strain the custard into the reserved saffron threads and refrigerate the mixture until it's completely cold. Churn and freeze the custard according to the icecream manufacturer's instructions.


  1. For some reason, this photo puts me in mind of the Oogie-Boogie man from The Nightmare Before Christmas... tastier, though, I'm sure :D

  2. Oh yum! I've only had saffron ice cream once before, but if this turned out even half as nice as that, then it would have been lovely.

  3. Ha, Hannah, I must admit it's a funny-lookin' scoop. :-)

    Where did you have it, Anna? I don't think I've ever seen saffron icecream before browsing this book.

  4. The saffron imparts such a lovely colour on the ice cream and the rose water orange segments make a perfect accompaniement- delish!