Quite by accident, the house I’m spending time in this summer is equipped with an ice cream maker – something I’d never used before. Since I happened to show up with too much tea (imagine that), I decided to combine the two and found that there’s nothing like smooth and creamy gelato infused with loose-leaf tea.
If you have an ice cream maker (old-style makers start at $10, and fully automatic ones are $50 – $60), steep and churn a tea-themed homemade dessert at your next summer party. You can experiment with sorbet, gelato, custard, and even frozen tea-infused chocolate truffles. Tea sorbets are nuanced and sophisticated. Enjoying the flavor of a familiar tea in a new texture can renew your appreciation for it.
The Earl of Grey gelato recipe that I’m sharing here is in a world of its own. I made one version with fat-free half-and-half, and no one would have ever guessed. Although I’m generally not one to add milk to tea when I’m drinking it, there is something to be said for getting the most extraction of fat-soluble flavor compounds in milk. If you try the steep and churn approach, you’ll likely keep your ice cream maker busy all season long and never go back to the grocery store freezer for another pint!
Earl of Grey Gelato
Yields 4 servings
1.75 cups whole milk and 0.25 cup heavy cream (mixed together)
1/3 cup sugar
2 T cornstarch
1 T Earl of Grey tea leaves
For the fruit swirl (optional):
0.5 cup fruit of your choice (I used blueberries)
1 T sugar
1 t cornstarch
Pour 1-1/4 cups whole milk and 1/4 cup of cream into a heavy saucepan. Add the sugar and heat over a medium heat until near boiling. Remove from the heat, add tea leaves, and steep for 6 minutes. Strain out the tea. Add the cornstarch to the remaining 1/2 cup of milk and whisk to combine. Pour this into the saucepan and whisk again. Return to a medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon to make sure the milk doesn’t burn. Once the mixture is the consistency of thin gravy, take it off the heat and put it in a bowl to cool to room temperature. Then put the bowl in the refrigerator to cool completely. Follow your ice cream maker’s directions to freeze the gelato. When it’s finished, swirl in the blueberry mixture with a spatula, if desired.
For the swirl, just combine the ingredients in a saucepan over a low heat. Stir constantly and crush the blueberries, making sure the cornstarch blends in well. Increase the heat to medium and cook, stirring continuously, until the sauce has thickened. Cool to room temperature and then keep it in the fridge until you’re ready to use.