I’ve been dreaming about flavouring ice cream with kaffir lime leaves for a while now. Although they are most commonly used in savory dishes, the leaves have that aromatic and zesty taste that I imagined would work beautifully in many desserts. And my imagination did not fail me this time – the ice cream came out absolutely out-of-this-world delicious.
Ripe mangoes have been falling off the trees all over the neighborhoods around us lately, which means very happy times for me. I have a few friends who are just as enthusiastic about getting their hands on the freshest local mangoes, and we set out on mango hunts around the neighborhoods whenever possible. But if a sweet ripe mango is out of reach where you live, you can omit it – the bright flavours of the kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass and coconut milk will do a wonderful job on their own.
I made a lime reduction to accompany the ice-cream with an extra-zesty kick, but it is entirely optional.
The Vietnamese owner of the market, where I usually buy frozen kaffir leaves, recently asked me what I do with all these lemongrass stalks and lime leaves, and was amazed to hear that I use them to make delicious ice cream. I have to admit that I felt a bit accomplished in surprising him, as I always feel that he knows much more about cooking than I ever will.
Kaffir Lime Mango Ice-Cream
2 cans full fat unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum or 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
3 lemongrass stalks – cut into 2-inch pieces and bruised with the back of a chef’s knife
2 large handfulls kaffir lime leaves – bruised
1 large or 2 small ripe, sweet mangoes – peeled and pitted
zest and juice of 1 lime
1/2 cup light agave syrup or other sweetener of choice
1. In a bowl, mix together 1/4 cup of coconut milk with xanthan gum or arrowroot powder to form a thick slurry. Set aside.
2. Heat the rest of the milk, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves in a medium sized pan. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, cover, and leave to infuse for 1 hour.
3. Transfer into a blender (preferably high-speed) and blend until smooth. Strain the solids through a fine-mesh strainer. Rinse the blender.
4. Pour the strained mixture back into the blender, add in the slurry, mango flesh, lime zest and juice and agave, and blend until smooth. Refrigerate until well chilled, preferably overnight.
5. Put into an ice cream maker for 25 minutes or however long your brand of ice cream machine suggests.
1. If you have a high-speed blender, such as Blendtec or Vitamix, you can eliminate the first step. Just heat the whole amount of milk in step 2 and add the xanthan gum in step 4 along with the rest of the ingredients.
2. You can also eliminate step 3 if your blender is not very strong, just strain out the lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves after infusing the milk, without blending them. The flavor may be not as pronounced in this case.
1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice – from about 5 limes
1/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon lime zest
1-inch piece fresh ginger – minced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1. Combine the lime juice, sugar and salt in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and keep it gently boiling for about 15 minutes, stirring often, until reduced by 3/4 and syrupy.
2. Add the zest, ginger and lemon juice and let steep for about 5 minutes. Strain and cool. Add honey or agave if the reduction is too strong and zesty to your taste.