Herbal Ice Cream Series: Holy Roman Vanilla Custard Ice Cream (5 stars)

Herbal Ice Cream Series: Holy Roman Vanilla Custard Ice Cream (5 stars)

It’s Summer!!!

And we are all stuck at home because of a pandemic. As the temperatures rise, there is one thing kids and adults can both get behind -  the overthrow of capitalism and the return of the means of production from the oligarchs to the people. I’m just kidding. It’s ice cream! To that end, we here on Team Herbalogic are starting our summer Herbed Ice Cream series. We aim to infuse juices and ice creams with herbal goodness and see what happens. Personally, I’m not convinced there won’t be disasters; many medicinal herbs don’t taste that great, some downright terrible. But onward we must go!

One caveat before we start. Bring it in a little closer, I don’t want to yell here… Look, I know that sugar is the highest evil.  It is like a dietary version of the painting Dogs Playing Poker but instead of dogs it’s Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot and Satan and instead of playing poker they are torturing men’s souls; that’s sugar. But can we just not for a minute and consider that every once in a while it’s okay to have a little ice cream? Can we meet there and not in the comments section for a super extra shouting match about the evils of sugar?

The genesis of this project is combining our love of exploring interesting herbs  with delicious foods. Also, we can’t discount how much we liked the idea of getting Team Herbalogic a really nice ice cream maker which also does a nice job of making frozen adult beverages.  Look here later for an article about watermelon sorbet that also did double duty as a Sandia margarita.  
Holy Roman Vanilla
The star herb in this infusion is chamomile.  There are two varieties of chamomile, German chamomile (Matricaria recutita) and Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile).  I felt like naming this ice cream after a country, like French Vanilla or Mexican Vanilla. But the kind of chamomile that gets most used in the spice trade, and the kind we are using, is the German variety. German Vanilla just doesn't have the zazz that Roman Vanilla does. But Roman Vanilla would be a name that otherwise civilized people would fight about in the comments section.  Since I needed a Roman nod to Germany, who doesn’t take inspiration from the Holy Roman Empire? Hence, Holy Roman Vanilla.


2 cups Milk
2 cups Heavy Whipping Cream
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup honey
5 egg yolks
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
7 grams chamomile 
7 cloves 
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon or 1 stick 
Yield: 1.5 Quarts
  1. Take whipping cream, honey and all the spices and add them to a quart mason jar and then seal the lid.
  2. Add the mason jar to a water bath sous vide at 145 F for 2 hours.  If this is not an option, you can use a slow cooker on low for the water bath or you can just make a water bath in a sauce pan and keep it at a very very low simmer with the mason jar in there.  
  3. Remove the mason jar and let cool 
  4. Add egg yolks to a bowl and whip together with the sugar until pale yellow and well combined.
  5. Strain the cream through a fine mesh strainer and press the remains to extract more liquid but don’t go crazy.  Just get most of it.
  6. Add the strained infused cream and milk to a sauce pan and bring to a simmer 
  7. It’s egg tempering time! Add the cream / milk mixture to the eggs and sugar about a cup at a time while whisking until you have added about half to 2/3 of the liquid.  If you add the warm cream mixture too fast, you will get really sweet scrambled eggs, and then time to start over. Once mixed, add the liquid with the eggs and sugar back to the saucepan.
  8. Bring the temperature to this mixture to 190 F, or until it coats the back of a spoon.
  9. Now you are done.  Psyche.  But you are making progress, keep going.
  10. Leave this mix on the counter for a couple of hours until it comes to room-ish temperature 
  11. When the liquid is room temp, move your mix to the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, but overnight would be best.
  12. When cooled, follow the instructions on your ice cream maker.

Tasting notes:

Dave: OK, man… this was so good.  The vanilla isn’t overwhelming and the flavor of the chamomile mixes really well with the honey but it is not too sweet. The chamomile tastes like you used honey that has a rounder more complex flavor. The cinnamon and cloves are subtle back-up flavors.  The overall flavor is outstanding and is well complemented with berries or shortbread.  I can tell you that the effect of the chamomile is subtle but when I have had this before bed I found that I slept pretty well.  I will absolutely be making this again. 

Jeanine: I too loved this ice cream flavor profile. The only thing that would have improved it was an ice cream cone or some similar sweet, crunchy type accompaniment. Since Dave didn't deliver any short bread with my Holy Roman Vanilla ice cream, I improvised. I raided my kids' stash of graham crackers and crunched some of those over the bowl. I too slept great that night, which was something of a shock considering I ate ice cream right before bed. 


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