I grow many old fashioned and unusual herbs in my garden in France, and although many people know Lemon Balm, Lemon Verbena is not so well known, which is such a shame! For me the flavour is MUCH more lemony and intense than Lemon Balm - think lemon sherbet, and you have a good idea of what to expect! The plant has graceful pointed leaves that are a gorgeous pale green in colour. Just scrunching a leaf in your hand to release the aromas can help fatigue or a headache. This is an ice cream I came up with to refresh and revive even the most jaded of palates – refreshing and with an amazing lemony zing! You should be able to source Lemon Verbena at any good Farmer's Markets - alternatively, make friends with someone who grows it! (Prep time includes the time to infuse the leaves to extract the flavour.)
- 2 tea cups fresh lemon verbena leaves, wiped and dried
- 350 ml whole milk
- 350 ml double cream or 350 ml whipping cream
- 125 g caster sugar
- 5 egg yolks
- lemon verbena leaf, to garnish
- In a medium saucepan, warm the lemon verbena leaves with all of the milk, 100ml of the cream and the sugar Press the leaves with the back of a wooden spoon to help the flavours release. Once warm, remove from heat, cover, and let steep for one to two hours.
- To make the ice cream custard, pour the remaining cream into a large bowl set in a larger bowl of ice water, and put a sieve on top.
- Use a strainer or slotted spoon to skim the lemon verbena from the milk and squeeze the leaves to extract as much liquid as possible back into the saucepan, then discard them. Reheat the lemon verbena infusion then whisk the eggs together and slowing pour in the warm infusion, whisking constantly.
- Scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan and cook, stirring continuously with a heatproof spatula, until the custard leaves a clear path on the spatula when you drag your finger across it.
- Immediately strain the custard into the bowl of cool cream and stir well until cool.
- Chill thoroughly, then freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. Serve with fresh leaves for garnish and a little lemon syrup drizzled over for a flavour explosion!