Fig Leaf Ice Cream

The fig tree in the front yard (the tree that gets the most sunlight) is producing plenty of figs these days. Yum!

Nate and I had tried making fig ice cream a few years ago. It was….not a success, to say the least. It turned out like a block of ice.

Now, I prefer eating my figs fresh. A few months ago, I came across a recipe for fig leaf ice cream. Hmmm….

I found myself with eight egg yolks on my hands last week, so I pulled out my ol’ faithful ice cream maker, and found a recipe for Fig Leaf and Honey Ice Cream from David Lebovitz. I didn’t follow the recipe exactly. I didn’t have cream, so I used all milk instead, but the recipe calls for five egg yolks and I had eight, so I thought I could make up for some of the missing fat lost by subbing milk for cream and using the extra egg yolks.

David Lebovitz says he’s been told to use young fig leaves because they have the most flavor. Well, it’s late in the season, so I just picked a variety of leaves – some small, some large – from a few trees in our yard.

You start by toasting the fig leaves over the stove.

They release a caramel scent that I wasn’t expecting from leafy greens.

Once toasted, you heat the leaves with milk (and cream, if you have it) and sugar.

Let it infuse for an hour, then strain out the leaves and combine with the egg yolks.

Heat the milk (cream), sugar, and egg yolks until it just starts to thicken to make the custard. Add the honey. Then let it cool, preferable overnight.

Churn in your ice cream maker, per your ice cream maker’s instructions.

It turned out more icey than I’d like, not nearly as smooth and creamy as something you’d get in a store, but it was edible. This is probably my fault for subbing milk for cream.

It’s hard to describe the taste of the fig leaves. They have a stronger scent than flavor. David Lebovitz says it’s a coconutty flavor. I wouldn’t disagree with that. It’s a bit like toasted coconut, a bit like caramel…. If you’ve smelled a katsura tree in the fall, it’s very reminiscent of that scent. To be honest, I think I preferred the custard before it was frozen into ice cream. It’s a warm scent that I think is better as a warm food. I wonder if you could make a fig leaf mousse or fig leaf soufflé or fig leaf crème brûlée…?

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