Let me tell you a little story I was supposed to tell you with a ton of pictures, which as I mentioned in two posts already, got corrupted when my memory card failed me. Anyway, this story is all about the first time ever I bought myself a bag of pine nuts. (Bag? Psssh! What am I saying? It’s a teeny tiny “bag” is what it is!)
I was going down through the “newly developed” baking aisle at the SM Supermarket when I found a surprisingly extensive selection of nuts under the Dough-It-All brand. It cost me the ridiculous amount of Php334 (USD 8 approximately) for what I would later find out was less than a cup of pine nuts. I must admit, as that package was being passed through the scanner by the cashier lady I winced a little inside, closed my eyes as the package was being passed through the scanner and the price appeared on the screen. It was just ridiculously expensive.
Here’s a question for my international friends reading this post: Are pine nuts really that pricey the world over, or is it just here because it’s kind of rare?
I have been contemplating purchasing pine nuts for a while, and in my mind there was only really one recipe I wanted to try with (yes, this one!) but I kept putting the damn pack back every time I came face to face with that price tag. And it is really such a tiny pack! It barely makes one freaking cup! I’m not really a scrooge when it comes to ingredients, but I just can’t seem to grasp the quantity to value for money ratio of this pack of pine nuts. But finally, after months of troublesome pushing and pulling, I was taking the damn pack of pine nuts home.
And then the memory card thing happens. And all my pine nut photos went to the air, just as quickly as my money did when I paid for that pack. I WANTED TO CRYYY.
After spending the evening hopelessly trying to recover unrecoverable photos, the next morning when my head cleared I ran to the freezer and desperately scanned for leftover ice cream. And there it was. Just enough to make a few scoops for photographing! My heart did a little jig and I managed to somehow let the incident go a little. I may not have process photos for this, but this is such a wonderful ice cream that I so desperately needed to talk about!
I certainly never expected that basil and candied pine nuts in an ice cream might be one of the best things ever. Every time I take a bite of this ice cream the song Perfect Combination unabashedly plays in my head. Do you know that song? The one from the 80’s? It might be a bit cheesy for people my age but my college buddies and I always used that song for teasing, and for expressing how much we love any food pairing we might come upon during our random meal forays. (The most unusual thing that comes to mind is the McDonald’s french fries dipped in McFlurry combo, which is shockingly awesome.) Whenever one of us breaks into song, you know it’s something we feel is genius.
Well folks, this ice cream made me break into song. Mentally of course. I don’t even know the lyrics to that song other than the chorus. It’s just that I find that this ice cream flavour is one of those things you never really imagined would wow you. But man, it’s wow and more.
This is also the most expensive ice cream I have made to date! But you know what? I have absolutely zero regrets.
But enough about the pine nuts and memory card brouhaha. There doesn’t seem to be a point in discussing it further since what’s done is done. What I want to talk about is my real affections for this particular recipe, because the fact is I made it with something growing in our own garden. It’s the first time I did that, and the first time I was ever interested in even checking out my parents’ herbs outside. It’s pretty impressive, and very pretty that I almost didn’t want to touch it.
I’m starting to understand why people like to garden and why they like to plant their own food. It’s wondrous to see things growing that started out as mere seeds. Here I am just a bystander and even I can’t help but be amazed, enough that I might try a hand at gardening some time maybe. (Maybe I should just cultivate my own pine nuts or something haha!)
So with the basil in the garden I made ice cream! Not exactly the first thing that comes to mind when one speaks of basil, but the failings of my memory card notwithstanding, I was still extremely excited by the prospect of homegrown basil plus my first pack of pine nuts together in this particular recipe. At the initial bite the scent and taste of basil fills the senses, but then the buttery honeyed pine nuts soon kick in and it’s like a sweet melody against the current of basil. As far as homemade ice cream goes, this one is unique and simply should not be missed!
Makes about 1 quart
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 3 Tablespoons cream cheese, softened
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
- A large handful of fresh basil leaves, roughly torn into pieces
- 1/3 cup Honeyed Pine Nut Pralines*
- Before starting the recipe, make sure you have chilled the bowl of your ice cream maker as per manufacturer's instructions.
- 1. Mix about 2 Tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry. Set aside.
- 2. Whisk the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth. Set aside.
- 3. Fill a large bowl with ice and water for the ice bath. Set aside.
- 4. Combine the remaining milk, cream, sugar, and corn syrup in a 4-quart saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil over high heat and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry.
- 5. Bring the mixture back to a boil over high heat and cook, stirring with a heatproof spatula or wooden spoon, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
- 6. Gradually whisk the hot milk into the cream cheese until smooth. Add the basil.
- 7. Pour the mixture into either a ziplock bag or a heatproof container that can fit into the ice bath. Submerge the bag or container in the ice bath, adding more ice as necessary until the mixture is cold, about 30 minutes. At this point you can either refrigerate the mixture for a few hours to further chill it, or proceed to churning the ice cream.
- 8. Strain the basil. Pour the ice cream base into the frozen canister and spin until thick and creamy.
- 9. Pack the ice cream into a storage container, folding in the honey pine nut pralines as you go. Press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.
- * Make sure to use just 1/3 cup of honeyed pine nuts as I find adding too much overpowers the basil flavour of the ice cream base.
Or you know, if someone out there is kind enough to sponsor some pine nuts that would be nice too. I’d share the ice cream with you of course! 😀