Here's ice cream with an unusual starring ingredient. The bay leaves lend an almost minty taste that pairs well with the citrus notes of orange peel and the gentle kick of a hot pepper. At his Woodberry Kitchen restaurant, chef Spike Gjerde uses fish peppers, a spicy heirloom variety native to Baltimore, but we found red Thai chili peppers to be an acceptable substitute. You might be able to buy fish peppers at area farmers markets in season.
The optional gelatin will act as a stabilizer, keeping the ice cream's texture airier and less icy, but it might not be needed if you don't intend to store the ice cream for more than a day.
Make Ahead: The ice cream base must be cooked and refrigerated a day in advance.
Yield: Makes about 1 quart
- 3 cups whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
- Scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Scant 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 6 fresh bay leaves
- Peel of 3/4 medium orange, with plenty of pith still attached
- 1 small red Thai chile pepper, split and seeded
- Scant 1/2 teaspoon powdered gelatin (optional)
- 3 tablespoons powdered milk
Heat the milk, cream and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until it just begins to barely bubble around the edges. Reduce the heat to low, and add the salt, ground black pepper, bay leaves, orange peel and chili pepper. Cook for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the gelatin, if using, on a small plate and sprinkle it lightly with a little water to soften it.
Remove the chili pepper from the saucepan, then continue cooking the rest of the ingredients for 10 minutes. Whisk in the powdered milk and softened gelatin, if using; increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil to form a custard.
Remove from the heat, pour it through a fine-mesh strainer into a heatproof storage container and refrigerate overnight.
Process the custard in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions (for about 20 minutes). Transfer to a container with a tight-fitting lid; seal and freeze for several hours, until firm.
From Spike Gjerde, chef-owner of Woodberry Kitchen in Baltimore.
Tested by Becky Krystal.
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