Bay leaves rarely play a starring role in a recipe. I tend to think that if you leave the bay leaf out of a recipe, you may not notice, but the elusive flavor adds a definite boost to soups and stews, and it’s an essential ingredient in a classic French herb seasoning bouquet garni. When I found this recipe in an old community cookbook, I was intrigued, because I have come to enjoy bay leaves as the primary flavor in roasting potatoes and vegetables. I could imagine that flavor in a sweet sauce and immediately thought of earthy blackberries as the perfect foil. Making the ice cream with buttermilk creates a tangy, creamy base for juicy blackberries and marries beautifully with the sauce. It’s also a pretty dish, the lovely purple ice cream with a drizzle of the golden amber sauce, garnished with an extra berry or two.
The sauce could be served over pound cake with a scattering of berries as an alternative, and I think it would also be delicious with peach ice cream. I really can’t wait to explore more uses for this unique sauce as the summer progresses.
- 12 ounces blackberries
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup half and half
- 5 egg yolks
- 1 cup cold buttermilk
- ¾ cup light brown sugar
- 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3 Tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 cup water
- 6 fresh bay leaves
- For the Ice Cream
- Puree the blackberries in a blender. Beat the egg yolks and sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer or with a hand mixer until the sugar is no longer grainy and the mixture is pale. Heat the half and half in a medium saucepan over medium heat, just until it is warm and small bubbles appear on the surface. Dribble the warm half and half into the yolks while beating constantly. Scrape the mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium, stirring constantly, until the mixture has thickened. It should coat the back of a metal spoon. Pour the custard through a strainer into a bowl to remove any lumps. Stir in the cold buttermilk, then pour the blackberry puree through the rinsed strainer, pressing the pulp through. Stir to blend. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming and chill the mixture for several hours until completely cold.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to process the ice cream in an ice cream freezer.
- Serve with the bay leaf sauce.
- Whisk the brown sugar and flour together in a medium sauce pan to blend. Add the lemon juice and water and stir to combined. Drop in the bay leaves and cook over medium high heat until the sauce has thickened, about 5 minutes. Leave the sauce to cool, then pour it through a strainer to remove the bay leaves and any lumps. Store, covered, in the fridge for up to two days. It can be served at room temperature or warmed slightly in the microwave or a sauce pan.
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