Last Christmas, Michael’s mom bought us some loose-leaf black tea from Mariage Frères. The blend smelled sweetly intoxicating with strong vanilla and caramel notes. Mary got it with ice cream in mind, and her idea was dead on. Problem was I looked to a recipe that called for eight egg yolks, and the result was nearly too rich to bear. The flavor was great (especially with the shot of brandy we added), but I felt sick after eating what was essentially a scoop of frozen cholesterol.
The idea of tea ice cream stuck. This summer I made green tea lychee and Thai iced tea flavors.
Then last week I found a Tealosophy Vanilla Tiger tea in my parents’ cupboard. I made myself a cup with milk and sugar, imagining it as ice cream with every sip.
Using a combination of heavy cream and milk, along with a more reasonable four egg yolks, and this time a shot of whiskey, the resulting ice cream was lusciously, but not sickeningly, creamy.
It doesn’t have the warming properties of a nice cuppa tea, but the flavor is just as comforting.
Vanilla Black Tea Whiskey Ice Cream
- 1 quart half and half (or heavy cream, whole milk or any combination or substitution thereof, depending what you have and how much fat you want. More fat = better texture, but we all have our limits)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- pinch of salt
- 8 tablespoons loose leaf vanilla black tea
- 4 egg yolks (save the whites for an omelet or meringue)
- shot of whiskey
Heat liquid in a pot over medium heat, careful not to scortch the bottom. Add sugar and salt, stirring to dissolve.
When hot, turn off heat and add tea leaves. Allow to steep several minutes so flavor develops but before it becomes bitter.
Pour mixture through a fine mesh strainer to remove all traces of tea leaves.
Return mixture to stove over low heat.
Separate eggs, and whisk yolks together in a small bowl. Temper the eggs by gradually adding some of the warm milk mixture, as you continue to whisk.
Then add egg yolk mixture to the pot. Cook over low heat, stirring with a silicone spatula slowly but continuously for 10-15 minutes. Really, yes, that whole time. You're waiting until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula. This likely won't happen until the 10 minute mark.
Allow to cool completely. Place in an ice bath if you want to speed up the process. When it is cool, refrigerate (at least an hour or two, or overnight if you can wait that long). Then freeze according to the directions for your ice cream maker.
When the custard reaches milkshake consistency, add whiskey. Allow to churn a few more minutes before transferring to an appropriate container to go in the freezer.