Lemon Balm Creme Fraiche Ice Cream is a subtle silky ode to early spring. The smooth tang of creme fraiche (ideally homemade) brings out the gentle herbaceous lemon-grass tones of fresh lemon balm. Lemon Balm or Bee Balm (see photo) is a hardy perennial herb of the mint family that even grows wild now in many parts of North America. If you can't find lemon balm, feel free to substitute another herb from the mint family or even lemongrass. The no-egg creme fraiche ice cream base is both quick and versatile. As fruits start coming into season feel free to adapt the flavor to what is fresh.
Yield: 1 Quart
- 2 cups creme fraiche (can substitute 1 cup heavy cream & 1 cup sour cream)
- 1 cup milk (we use 1% but any will do)
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1 large bunch lemon balm (see photo for approximate quantity), stems removed
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 pinch salt
- In a small saucepan combine milk, sugar, and lemon balm. Turn heat to medium and stir frequently as you bring to a bare simmer. Try to crush or bruise the lemon balm leaves as you stir to release their flavorful oils. As soon as the mixture comes to a simmer (small bubbles around the edges), turn off the heat and allow to steep uncovered for 5 minutes.
- Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a medium mixing bowl, pressing all the liquid from the leaves with the back of your spoon. Add the creme fraiche, vanilla, and salt to the mixture and stir to combine.
- Allow the mixture to cool for 5 minutes (until lukewarm) before adding to your ice cream maker. Churn according to your manufacturer's instructions. If it comes out of the ice cream maker softer than you would like, transfer to a container and freeze for several hours to firm it up.
- Enjoy! It is also delicious with fresh fruit or a simple fruit compote (we ate it with a strawberry rhubarb compote).