Buttermilk ice cream goes perfectly with berries, peaches, figs, and other summer fruits. It's also a great way to make any pie or tart "à la mode" while adding a refreshing tart note to the proceedings. It's sweet yet bright and in no way cloying, plus it has a slightly lemony, cheesecake-like flavor.
To give this ice cream that tell-tale tangy buttermilk flavor, the buttermilk is added at the end, after the eggs and cream have been cooked into a custard. Leaving the buttermilk uncooked leaves its bright flavor intact.
Stirring a bunch of buttermilk into the custard gives this ice cream a somewhat light texture. For a heavier, creamier, premium ice cream feel, simply decrease the amount of buttermilk to 1 cup and sugar to 1/2 cup.
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 6 egg yolks
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 cups buttermilk
- Bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan over high heat (pay attention: you just want it to start boiling, not boil over!).
- While the cream comes to a boil, in a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until the mixture turns a pale yellow and thickens up enough so ribbons will sit on the surface for a minute when you lift the whisk out of the mixture.
- When the cream boils, slowly pour it into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. This partially cooks the egg yolks into a smooth, liquid texture, whereas if you just combined everything the egg would curdle and you'd have some scrambled eggs in hot cream on your hands.
- Return the mixture to the saucepan and over medium-low heat cook it, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until it becomes thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (you should be able to run your finger across the back of the spoon and leave a track in the mixture clinging to it). You may be tempted to turn up the heat to make this happen faster; try to avoid that temptation in order to avoid scorching or curdling the ice cream base. You may also be tempted to use a whisk, but that's going to introduce a lot of extra air and make it difficult to determine when the mixture has thickened properly.
- Pour the thickened mixture into a clean bowl and stir in the buttermilk. Stir to completely combine the buttermilk into the ice cream base—they are different textures and won't combine immediately.
- Ideally, the mixture is in a medium metal bowl that you can now set in a slightly larger bowl that's filled with ice. Nestle the bowl containing the mixture in the ice; let it sit, stirring now and again, until the mixture is chilled.
- Alternatively, you can just cover and refrigerate the mixture until chilled, at least an hour and up to overnight.
- Freeze the mixture in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions or use this How to Make Ice Cream Without an Ice Cream Maker method that involves a metal bowl, a whisk, a freezer, and time.
- Cover the frozen mixture and freeze until hard, about 1 hour, before serving.