Basil, Bourbon, and White Pepper Ice Cream

by autumn on July 12, 2011

Today was Day 1 of an impending 4 week (!) vacation. When I started working at a school, I knew the elusive month off was coming, but it’s here now and it still doesn’t seem real. Of course it’s nice. I’m deeply grateful and it couldn’t have come at a better time. And yet, I am notorious for—what’s the nicest way to say it?— not being great at relaxing. So I’m getting used to being my own boss for a while and reminding myself to breath.

Turns out, when I’m charge there’s bourbon. And pretty spices. I’ll deny it in the press, but I’m officially announcing my run for office soon.

As Kalustyan’s will tell you, white peppercorns are a little milder than black peppercorns. They’re perfect for accenting (but not overpowering) the peppery qualities of both basil and bourbon. I considered infusing them, but ground them right up and threw them in.

I did decide to infuse a generous amount of basil into the ice cream base. I have to give credit where credit is due and mention that once upon a time, The Bent Spoon’s beet basil ice cream rocked my world and got me excited about basil-y ice cream in the first place. Liza over at food. curated. just did a fantastic (and adorable!) video on The Bent Spoon.

As you may know, I like to add a splash of alcohol to my homemade ice creams to help the texture stay smooth (and because David Lebovitz says so), but usually I choose something more neutral flavor-wise. However, this little number needed some bourbon. In spite of the trio of strong flavors at work here, the result is surprisingly well-balanced.

Basil, Bourbon, and White Pepper Ice Cream


  • 1 1/2 cup + 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 generous handful basil leaves
  • 3 T tapioca starch
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 t bourbon
  • 1/2 t coarsely ground white pepper

Cooking Directions

  1. Reserve 1/4 cup whole milk.
  2. Heat remaining whole milk with the cream, sugar, and basil over medium-high heat. Stirring until the mixture begins to steam and sugar has dissolved.
  3. Remove from heat and allow to steep for 20-30 minutes.
  4. While the mixture steeps, mix the reserved milk with the tapioca starch.
  5. Strain basil infused cream mixture through a fine-mesh sieve, pressing the leaves to extract the most flavor.
  6. Return the basil infused cream mixture to a pot over medium-high heat and when it begins to steam again, stir in the slurry (tapioca starch and milk). It should thicken almost immediately.
  7. Remove from heat and stir in the bourbon and white pepper. Add more of each to taste, if you prefer.
  8. Cool completely and process in an ice cream maker, according to the manufacturer's instructions.


Autumn Giles is the creator of Autumn Makes & Does and the co-host of the Alphabet Soup Podcast.

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