Peach Basil Ice Cream – Improv Challenge

Peach Basil Ice Cream |

I just changed my Google+ profile to read “wishful gardener.” Maybe next year I can edit it to “bountiful gardener.” (Speaking of, whatever type of gardner you are (bountiful to black thumb) I’d love to follow you on Google+, add me to your Google+ circles and I’ll reciprocate!)

Here’s a photo of my so-called “garden;” a sad tangle of long grass under an overgrown bush.


As you may know, our family moved from Chicago to the middle of nowhere (country) in December. Despite my sadness at leaving the city, I had big plans for a bountiful garden in our gigantic yard. My new farmer friends promised to come plow me a patch of earth saying, “I’ll come plow as soon as the ground dries out.” That day never came; the Mississippi has been at flood-stage for months.

So, earlier this spring, when I was itching to plant something ANYWHERE, (and had ordered WAY too many seeds from CooksGarden) I enlisted a friend to help me dig up a small patch around this gangly bush. Despite the weeds, it’s actually produced beautiful mixed lettuces, Watermelon Radishes, the crunchiest cucumbers ever, rhubarb, and beautiful basil from seed!

When I read this month’s Improv Challenge (a monthly recipe bloghop where Kristen @ Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker assigns two ingredients) of Peaches & Herbs, I knew I had to harness the mellow (herb-alicious!) flavor of my basil.

Peach Basil Ice Cream |

I decided to adapt a recipe for Sweet Basil & Honeyed Pine Nut Ice Cream from one of my all-time favorite cookbooks Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home by Jeni Britton Bauer.

Below is my adaptation of Jeni’s recipe in which she masterfully uses small amounts of the secret ingredients corn syrup, corn starch and cream cheese to whip up the creamiest premium ice cream, tasting just like it came from an ice cream shop. These ingredients help the protein in the milk products gain extra body and creamy structure; they also help avoid ice crystals ubiquitous in most homemade ice creams. I made this version much lower in fat and sugar, but still amazingly velvety and rich-tasting. The fresh peaches are a perfect complement to the mellow basil flavor – just don’t add too many or the extra juice will make ice crystals.

Peach Basil Ice Cream |

Even my husband loved this – and he’s a chocolate, vanilla or peanut butter ice cream kinda guy. No fussy flavors for him – usually – but when tasting this Peach Basil Ice Cream, he said “This is good, what is it mint?” Come to think of it, fresh mint would be a delicious substitution for the basil in this recipe!

Peach Basil Ice Cream – Improv Challenge


  • 2 1/2 cups 2% milk
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 ounces 1/3-less fat cream cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • Scant 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons light-colored corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves, roughly torn
  • 1 large peach, peeled, chopped
  • Fresh peaches for serving


  1. Mix 2 tablespoons milk into cornstarch in a small bowl and mix well with a fork.
  2. Whisk cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth.
  3. Combine remaining milk, cream, sugar and corn syrup in large saucepan, bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat and boil for 4 minutes; stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and gradually whisk in cornstarch mixture.
  4. Bring milk mixture back to a boil and cook stirring constantly until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.
  5. Gradually whisk hot milk into the cream cheese until smooth. Add basil. Cover with vented plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator until cold, about 2 hours. (Alternately pour mixture in plastic zip-top bag and chill in ice bath.)
  6. Strain out basil. Pour into ice cream maker and follow manufacturer's instructions. During last 3 minutes of time in the ice cream maker, drop in peaches.
  7. Serve topped with plenty of fresh peaches

What desserts do you make using herbs? Please share!

And take a look at all these Peaches and Herbs recipes!

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  1. Peaches and basil seem to have been meant for each other. Your ice cream is just beautiful.
    Kristen recently posted..Peach and Pesto Grilled CheeseMy Profile

    • Thanks Kristen! I’ve struggled in the photography department…so I must say I was excited about how the light illuminated the basil leaves in this photo. Thanks for noticing! (:

  2. Oh I have been dying for some peach ice cream this summer but have not yet had a chance to make any. I’m glad I didn’t because I’m sure I would not have thought to add basil! It looks awesome, I love the pale pretty color. And just for the record…your garden looks way better than mine! : )
    Anne@FromMySweetHeart recently posted..Honey Almond Panna Cotta with Lemon Thyme PeachesMy Profile

  3. Oh man, that ice cream looks absolutely heavenly! I can just imagine how good the peach and basil flavors are in it and how creamy it must be with cream cheese in it.
    Lesa @ Edesia’s Notebook recently posted..Improv: Grilled Peach Prosciutto PizzaMy Profile

  4. I just printed the recipe. That should tell you how good it looks. The photo is a beauty. I have never made ice cream with cream cheese before. I can’t wait.
    Chaya recently posted..Peach Polka Dot Caramel CakeMy Profile

  5. Oh my! I may have just ran and put my ice cream maker in the freezer. This looks delicious and I need to try it ASAP!
    Cookaholic Wife recently posted..Improv Challenge: Summer Peach and Basil PizzaMy Profile

  6. Loving this ice cream, and yours is the 2nd mention on Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream today {Check out the Candid RD’s Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream-yum!}. My garden is in a bit of a sad state right now too, but I have no floods to blame it on. Only myself :-( Pinning this now, and hope to make soon!
    thespicyrd recently posted..Strawberry Watermelon Mint Elixir & PopsiclesMy Profile

  7. I found this month’s Improv to be a true challenge. I’d NEVER thought to combine peaches with any sort of herb. I love the peach and basil ice cream that you’ve come up with! Very creative! I’m so impressed that you were able to turn this challenge into a dessert!!!
    Amber @ The Cook’s Sister recently posted..Improv Challenge: Peaches and Herbs (Pork Chops with a Peach and Sage Glaze)My Profile

  8. Great idea- love it. Good luck with your garden- you are one step closer than I am since I only thought about/meant to plant a garden this year but never got around to it. Next year!
    Karen- Cinnamon Freud recently posted..Pork Carnitas with Peach Salsa: Improv BlogMy Profile

  9. A cool and refreshing treat for a hot summer’s day. Looks like your off to a good start on your garden.
    Mimi recently posted..Jalapeno Peach RiceMy Profile

  10. Peaches and basil pair so nicely together. I can imagine how very fresh and summery this lovely ice cream must taste. I adore herbs in frozen treats so I know this will be a must make in my home. Thanks for the lovely recipe!
    Kate | Food Babbles recently posted..The Weekend Whisk – 7/20/13My Profile


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