Thyme Flower Ice Cream – glace aux fleurs de thym

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There is something magical about herb flowers.  Don’t you agree?  They are like a softer, more feminine, and altogether prettier version of the herbs themselves.  It’s a pity they are not used more often in the kitchen.  That might perhaps be because they are not easy to come by, if you buy herbs at the store you probably wouldn’t see the flowers.  Most commercial growers – or even the more diligent of home gardeners – snip them right off as soon as they appear, to prevent the herbs going to seeds and die.  But if you’re one of the lucky ones with an herb pot or two growing by the window, or better yet a patch of herbs in your garden, try letting a few go to flower, you’ll love the results.  Rosemary flowers are great sprinkled over meat dishes, especially the ones cooked with the herb already.  I love using cilantro flowers in salads, they work wherever I’d use regular cilantro leafs.  And my current favorite, thyme flowers.

Most people think of thyme as a rather strong herb, suitable for something equally strong, like lamb chops.  I beg to differ, use judiciously, thyme can be subtle and don’t overpower more delicate dishes like fish or even -wait for it- ice cream.  Yes, ice cream.

I’d take credit for coming up with this brilliant idea but, as Goethe purportedly said, there’s nothing new under the sun.  I remember having an ice cream made with thyme flowers in France years ago.  I also remember tremendously enjoying the deliciously creamy, old-fashioned custard-based ice cream and being delighted by the unexpected and savory flavor of thyme in it.

So, when my thyme bloomed this year, I set out to replicate that ice cream.

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I use a recipe for ice cream base that I adapted from one in David’s tattered old notebook.  I’m not sure even he knows where it came from anymore.  It calls for cooking only half the amount cream, adding fresh cream at the very end just before churning.  This is great if you could find superb quality cream, as it retains the fresh flavor of uncooked dairy.  I especially love it when I have spare raw cream from making butter to use in the recipe.  If you could find a source for raw cream, definitely use it.

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Thyme flower ice cream - glace aux fleurs de thym

Part 1

8oz whole milk

8oz cream

10 yolks (yes, ten, I don’t eat ice cream on a diet)

160g sugar

about 10 sprigs of thyme flowers, rinsed and dried thoroughly

salt to taste

In a medium pot over low heat, bring the milk, cream, and half the amount of sugar to a simmer.  Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the rest of the sugar and the yolks until well blended.  When the milk/cream/sugar mixture comes to a simmer, pour about half a cup’s worth into the sugar/yolk, whisk again to incorporate, then pour the mixture from the bowl into the pot.  Stir to blend and bring the mixture back to a simmer, stirring continuously.  This last bit shouldn’t take more than a minute.  Remove the pot from the heat immediately.  Add the thyme flowers into a clean, large bowl and pour the hot ice cream base over it.  Add about 1/2 teaspoon of salt (more or less as you like it).  Cover and let stand until completely cooled.

Part 2

16oz cream (superb quality raw cream if you could find it)

When the custard base is ready, pour the second amount of cream (16oz, cold and direct from the fridge) over it, stir to mix.  Cover and let rest in the fridge until it’s cold before churning.

Strain the ice cream base into the bowl of your ice cream maker.  Churn according to the manufacturer’s directions.  This recipe makes just over 1qt of ice cream.

P.S. Just before the ice cream finishes churning, I like to add a big pinch of fleur de sel, I like the crunch and the burst of flavor when you bite into a flake, and I love salt.  This is, however, entirely optional.

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  • http://thesophisticatedgourmet.blogspot.com Kamran Siddiqi

    I would have never thought of putting thyme flowers in my ice cream, but I definitely need to try this! So creative. And the photos are phenomenal. Great post!

  • http://ciaochowlinda.blogspot.com Ciaochowlinda

    What a divine idea! I just finished making frozen lemon yogurt and I think these might have made a nice addition. I’ll have to go see if my thyme has flowers on it at the moment.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/pim Pim

    Frozen lemon yogurt and lemon thyme flowers should be divine. Or even just lemon thyme alone – I’d use fewer springs if using the herbs and not the flowers.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/pim Pim

    Why thank you. Try and let me know how yours turn out.

  • http://kitchensidecar.blogspot.com katiek

    So simple yet so elegant.

  • http://www.passportfoodie.com Taylor Young

    What a fantastic idea. I totally agree.
    Thanks for posting!

  • http://profile.typepad.com/queenlythings Vallen Queen

    Well, this is “thyme-ly”. I best get out to the garden and harvest those little buds before they go to seed. Lemon thyme is my favorite.

  • Josh

    I don’t know whether or not Goethe said, “There’s nothing new under the sun.”
    But I do know that if he said it, he was quoting the Bible.
    “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”
    - Ecclesiastes 1:9 (NIV translation from the original Hebrew)

  • http://profile.typepad.com/pim Pim

    …which evidently proved his point

  • http://profile.typepad.com/pim Pim

    thyme-ly indeed. Come back and tell us how yours turn out please.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/pim Pim

    Thanks katiek and Taylor, and you’re welcome.

  • http://www.thespicedoc.com The Spice Doc

    Wonderful!!! I have been planning to do my chocolate sea salt sorbet soon but I might start with an herb-y ice cream instead. I saw a wonderful recipe in the magazine Healing with Herbs that did a tarragon sorbet that looks delectable as well. Thanx for sharing.

  • http://nutmegnanny.wordpress.com Nutmeg Nanny

    I have never had thyme flowers but they look beautiful. I bet this ice cream is refreshing and super tasty:)

  • http://thesophisticatedgourmet.blogspot.com Kamran Siddiqi

    Will do!

  • http://simonfoodfavourites.blogspot.com Simon Food Favourites

    very interesting combination. glad it worked out well. lavender would work nicely too i guess.

  • Witwala

    If you could, would you reccomend a good ice cream maker.
    The one I used to own didn’t get me right (could be my mistake but I loved to blame it on the machine :) )

  • http://lickedspoon.blogspot.com/ lickedspoon

    Such beautiful pictures and a delicious-sounding and unusual ice cream. I can’t wait to try this with the thyme flowers in my garden.

  • http://www.veggiebelly.com veggiebelly

    I have some thyme out in the garden, but hasnt flowered (yet)! this is such a beautiful and luxurious recipe!

  • http://christelle56.over-blog.com Chrystel

    I’m discovering your great blog. What a marvellous idea of using thyme flowers in an ice cream !
    Have a nice day !
    Chrys

  • http://www.guindilla.eu Guindilla

    I have tried this ice cream in a restaurant with a peach tarte tattin. It was just… great! I did think about doing it myself, but felt lazy to look for the recipe. Thanks to you I have it!
    Another “strange tasting” ice creams is capsicum (or red pepper, as you say in the US), that goes perfectly with duck breast – the way I tried it.
    Cheers.

  • http://caviarandcodfish.com codfish

    I had thyme lemon ice cream at Gotham Bar and Grill and was sorry to find it not to my liking. I think, maybe, the lemon flavor was too strong with it, or there was too much sugar.
    I imagine it would be lovely if very creamy and only subtly sweet. And served on peaches…. mmm

  • http://profile.typepad.com/pim Pim

    Tarragon can be pretty powerful, so I suggest going a bit easy on it. Alain Ducasses does a strawberry dessert with a hint of tarragon, which sounds an unlikely union but turn out quite well.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/pim Pim

    Yes, lavender should. Like the comment about tarragon just above, I also suggest going easy on lavender. Using too much makes everything smell like soap (or body lotion) in my opinion.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/pim Pim

    Try it and let me know what you think.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/pim Pim

    worth the wait I promise.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/pim Pim

    Thanks!

  • http://profile.typepad.com/pim Pim

    Capsicum ice cream sounds intriguing. Serving this thyme flower ice cream over stone fruit tarts is a great idea.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/pim Pim

    This is very creamy, yes, thanks to the 10 yolks in it.

  • http://www.lekkertje.blogspot.com Valisa

    Pim,
    oh my this looks really good!!! I love the idea of using 10 yolks… and the addition of fleur de sel! Definitely will give this a spin!

  • http://www.gourmet-chick.com Gourmet Chick

    Any ideas for parsley flowers – mine has just bloomed?

  • http://www.palatetopen.com Jennifer

    I planted cilantro and thyme in my garden this season and was surprised by their dainty flowers. I never knew, or rather, saw…Ice cream is a splendid idea to showcase the herbal beauty and taste. I also adore your fleur de sel preference too!

  • http://ecopatterns.com malathip

    I just started making ice cream with a few attempts and sometimes i get an “egg smell” in the ice cream. I’d like to know how to fix it.
    Thank you

  • http://www.riya-kitchen.blogspot.com riya

    just got your book. i am looking forward to reading it. as you are my fellow Thai, I am so proud of you.
    Riya

  • http://profile.typepad.com/pim Pim

    I haven’t seen parsley flowers yet but I think they’d be really good on a salad, or maybe tossed with pasta with a goat cheese+sauteed eggplants+pine nuts?

  • http://profile.typepad.com/pim Pim

    I’m a salt lover, and I just love the surprise crunch when you get to a flake of salt in the ice cream.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/pim Pim

    I think that comes with overcooking the custard. Most people cook it longer than it really needs because they’re afraid of germs. I’d try the same recipe but cook it a bit less than before. It should be better.
    You can also try reducing the amount of egg yolk in the recipe. The texture might suffer a bit with the reduction in fat content, but it’ll still be good. If you reduce the yolks, you might try substituting part of the sugar in the recipe with corn syrup or honey, which could help the texture.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/pim Pim

    Thank you! Let me know how you like it.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/pim Pim

    I love salt, and adore the crunch you get when you get to flake of salt in the ice cream. Yum!

  • http://whohastimetocook.blogspot.com/ Jean

    I have definitely noticed a trend of savory ice creams hitting menus and hope kitchens. What a refreshing idea. — Jean

  • http://ecopatterns.com malathip

    Thank you. I’ll try that. :)

  • http://www.TableFare.com/blog Carol Peterman

    I made all kinds of herb ice creams and love them, but never considered using the flowers. It looks like the cilantro flowers that are currently dominating my plant will end up in my salad bowl tomorrow rather than the compost bin. It never occurred to me to eat them. Thanks.

  • http://www.ziggythewinegal.com Ziggy TheWineGal

    Love the fresh ideas!
    Cheers~
    Ziggy, The Wine Gal
    Radio & Television Personality
    Sommelier to the Stars

  • http://profile.typepad.com/6p01157133f61a970b lauralulu

    Now this is a real treat! My herb garden is covered in lemon thyme flowers…I have some poulet eggs – sounds like I have a project on my hands for today.
    Pim – Thank you for taste memory. I use to use herb flowers in a salad that I use to make at a four start kitchen in NYC. It was all the rage at the time. I once had a salad sent back because there were flowers and petals in it. Chef marched out of the kitchen and insisted that the customer try it. Let’s just say he had a persuasive personality.
    I also know at tea rooms herb flowers are often combined with butter – yum!

  • http://tastyeatsathome.wordpress.com Alta

    I have considered herbs in ice cream, but haven’t tried it yet. Did try basil with lime in a sorbet though…would’ve been good but had too much sweetness to it. This sounds intriguing, and I might have to try it. I’m considering chocolate rosemary as well…

  • http://sweetspoonful.blogspot.com/ Megan Gordon

    Beautiful photos and interesting recipe-can’t wait to try!

  • http://www.cheapfluoxetine.ca lisa

    looks so yummy…thanks for sharing..i will try that, I’m sure that my hubby and my kid will love that.. They love ice cream..

  • http://www.chefgui.com chef gui

    Tres jolies photos, comme d’habitude. Et la fleur de thym me rappelle ma Provence natale.
    Merci Pim.

  • http://littlechi.wordpress.com Little Chi

    Saw n bought ur book at the Thai Kinokuniya. Is it out in the US yet? Anyways, just to let u know I love it! Congratulations!

  • http://littlechi.wordpress.com Little Chi

    Ooops! Just read riya’s post. :P

  • http://www.saboresnuevos.com Daniela Restrepo

    Lovely site, how about lavender flowers in ice cream? Would that be worth my trying?

  • http://elicooks.wordpress.com/ Eli

    Great idea. I made a sage ice cream using a similar method last summer. I only used about 3 or 4 leaves in a quart of ice cream, because sage is so strong. I served it to some friends at a BBQ and it went over really well, but no one could identify the flavor…sage is so unexpected in something sweet.

  • nestor

    fijate that I try to make the ice cream but not me salio me salio a little last to a greeting

  • linhanyi
  • http://swisscookbook.com/swiss-cookbook.html Leon Gregory

    Thanks a lot! I’m also a gourmet and pastry enthusiast and this would really go to my compilation. I would also like to share. I came across a good site, http://swisscookbook.com , which also gives free sample family-secret European and Swiss recipes.

  • Mary Harris

    I infused some of my home made icecream with a lavender flower and it was delicious with rhubarb. One flower left in the cooling cream mixture for about 30 seconds is just enough to give the lovely taste.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/6p0120a4f88d22970b Mary-Anne Durkee

    Herb (bai Kaproa, lavender, rosemary flowers, bai magroot, etc) ice creams are so wonderful! Also love cardamon ice cream and white pepper ice cream-yum! As you say not to eat too often.

  • bev

    i just found your blog! you are so cute and i want to try your recipes..lalala time to spend money on ingredients..lalala =)

  • http://www.my-wedding-chair-covers.com Melesha

    That Thai cucumber salad looks yummy.

  • Edgard

    Si entiendes español y te interesan compartir recetas de un estudiante de arquitectura que viajo 7 meses por 25 paises y variadas culturas estoy afin de intercambiar anecdotas gastronomicas y de viaje, ademas soy fanatico de la fotografia, en este viaje obtube una 15000 fotos
    Tu sitio y fotos estan muy sugerentes.
    te saluda atte. Edgard

  • http://hilahcooking.com Hilah

    Wow. This sounds totally good. And it reminds me of some thyme shortbread cookies I made a couple years ago and then never again. What is wrong with me? They were wonderful. Ooh, with some cracked black pepper? Sheesh.

  • Anne

    My thyme plant gave me enough blooms to try your thyme flower ice cream recipe -which I came across a few months ago. Sure was worth the wait! This is seriously one of the best thing I have ever eaten! Thanks a bunch for sharing!

  • http://www.flowers-nikolaev.com Dmjass

    it sounds really tasty!

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