Thyme Custard Ice Cream

Remember our little flower farm visit at Nola Tilth last week? Well, our friend Megan who runs the joint insisted we take heaping loads of thyme home with us and we don't say "no" to anything free (well, most things free) so now we have an actual thyme bush in our fridge, ensuring that this week's recipes are nearly 100% brought to you by that brief stint as flower farmers, and dang sis, that one trip is getting stretched far!  (Refresher: Megan was the sweety who also gave us the ruby moon hyacinth bean flowers featured in the recent blossom colada recipe).

But speaking of things I've stretched, this week also saw me and my clumsy man arms ripping the lace cuff of an adorable vintage size 4 dress, thereby learning that at 6'0" and 185lbs I have no business even so much as looking at a vintage size 4, regardless of whether it was in the "large" section at the Goodwill or not. This Goodwill didn't have a dressing room to try it on (so not *totally* my fault), but did you know that a vintage size 4 is something like a modern size 00? I'm calling BS on this whole industry, but most importantly I'm calling BS on my eyes and their wrong assessment that the little dress was even a possibility for me.

I'm the kind to research the shit out of something the minute I realize I'm missing a single piece of the puzzle, and hopefully that begins to explain why I now newly know about dress sizes. But maybe I should also add that Beau and I are (incredibly late to the party) now obsessed with RuPaul's Drag Race. So now Beau is trying to find the perfect drag name (Judy Ruliani? Lana del Gay?), I'm ordering dress patterns so I can just hand-make something that will actually fit me, and we're tricking our BFF Camille into coming over and giving us makeup tutorials. We've been doing all of this to ultimately just stay inside and watch the show from our living room. Before you even ask, there are no pictures, and there absolutely won't be. At least until we figure out how to do any of it correctly because right now we're just serving hot mess realness and it's not very cute. 

So being that we're relegated to our little shotgun home until someone brings over makeup remover (help us!!!!), we've taken to eating a bunch of this ice cream that we're about to share with you. We've done some kind of cray cray flavor combos on here in the past so this one shouldn't come as *much* of a surprise. If you've been following our culinary misadventures for a bit, or if you've browsed around our older recipes, you may have seen some kinda messed up sounding treats, like this lavender and gorgonzola bete noire, these sweet corn and butterscotch cookies, or this lemon and cracked pepper pound cake with rosewater glaze. Pretty much every one of these recipes took some effort from one of us to convince the other that everything was going to be okay and that the world wouldn't end if our little experiments came out awful. We're not exactly the plainest of Janes, and we're both extremely adventurous eaters, but sometimes it's pretty clear even to us that shit has gone a step too far.

This thyme custard ice cream didn't really follow that narrative, though. Sure, it sounds kinda bizarre, but when Megan the flower farming friend handed us more thyme than any two people could ever possibly use in a lifetime, we all kind of gasped with excitement when someone (me) said "thyme ice cream." Like, out of three of us, you'd think someone would have a bit of hesitation. But nope, we were damn sure about this from the start, and after tasting it we are even surer. It's got this wonderful custardy texture thanks to all the great egg yolk, and the thyme is definitely evident, but not overwhelmingly savory, and it's underlined by a classic vanilla bean base. This ice cream is literally everything. Recipe below, y'all!!

Custardy Vanilla Bean + Thyme Ice Cream

makes about 1 quart

  • 1 pint heavy cream
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 12 egg yolks
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 whole vanilla beans, scraped*
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 20 - 25 whole sprigs thyme + 10 sprigs
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
  1. Combine cream, milk, scraped vanilla beans (pod and scraped out seeds), and 20 - 23 whole thyme sprigs in a saucepan and bring just to a boil over medium-heat high before removing from the heat and letting rest for an hour while the thyme steeps into the cream mixture. Once the cream mixture has steeped, remove the vanilla bean pods and the thyme stems. 
  2. When the cream mix is ready, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar and salt until slightly pale. Slowly add in the cream mixture a few tablespoons at a time, until you've added about 1/2 cup. At this point you can just go ahead and add the rest of the cream mixture and whisk to combine.
  3. Return the ice cream base to the saucepan and cook over low heat until thickened, about 8 to 10 minutes, stirring often and making sure the mixture never gets hot enough to bubble*. Strain the mixture into a heat proof bowl to remove any solids or impurities, add in the 10 remaining thyme stems and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator and let chill for 4 hours to overnight.
  4. Remove the thyme stems just before churning. Churn by following the instructions on your ice cream maker before folding in the minced thyme leaves. Let harden in the freezer and enjoy!


 If you begin to see chunks forming while you are simmering the ice cream base (indicating the egg is cooking), immediately turn off the heat and pour the mixture into a heat proof bowl before straining out the solids.