One of my favorite parts about recipe developing is the chance to use ingredients in unexpected ways (or to use unexpected ingredients). Okay, okay... I really like putting myself through the Quickfire challenge, a la Top Chef. So when I hung out with my eco-hero Ed Begley, Jr. and discovered he had a natural soda line, I jumped on the chance to work with it. Tasting Begley's and Bill's Pomegranate Soda, I was surprised by how real it tasted. My first thought was to do an ice cream soda, and, after a few iterations that resulted in this Pomegranate & Sage Ice Cream.
Oh, and here I am hanging out with Ed at his place down in LA. I kinda swooned a bit meeting him.
Add 2 cups of cream to a saucepan and warm it over a medium-high heat. When it just begins to boil, add the 10 fresh sage leaves, stir, cover, remove from heat and set aside. Let the sage leaves steep in the cream for about 20 minutes. I know sage and vanilla sounds more like a scented candle from Blood, Bath & Beyond then, say, an ice cream flavor. But you aren't reading a food blog called Cooking Stoned because you wanted a mint chip recipe, now are you? Thing is, sage plays very well with fats. Ever had it fried in browned butter over pasta? If not, stop what you're doing and order some fucking pasta! You're missing out.
Now that you've infused the cream with sage, remove the leaves and compost 'em. Add 2 cups of whole milk and warm the mixture over a medium heat. Add in the vanilla bean, scraped seeds, pod and all. Add in another 1/2 cup of sugar, stirring occasionally.
Combine 3 eggs, 4 egg yolks in a small mixing bowl and beat them. Add 1/2 cup of the sugar, and whisk mixture until it's light, fluffy, and pale yellow. Take 1 cup of the warmed cream mixture and slowly (SLOWLY!) whisk it into the mixture. This is tempering the eggs.
Remove the vanilla bean pod from the cream mixture and compost. Pour the egg mixture back into the sauce, slowly, stirring while doing so.
Okay, this is the point where your recipe can go wrong. It is really easy to fuck it up here and you don't want that. There is nothing more annoying than getting this far only to end up with scrambled eggs covered in cream. Here is the first rule making ice cream: slow and low. Say it with me, "slow and low." You got that... slow and low.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and stir the mixture, constantly. That means no Facebook, stop watching Betas on Amazon.com (sorry, Ed), no tweeting or anything else. Right now, you are the ice cream's bitch and your attention has to be 100% in the game. Slow and low. Stirring in an s-fashion, constantly scrape the bottom of the pan and the corners. And keep doing this until it thickens.
The first sign that this shit is ready begins with a bit of viscosity to the mixture. You will notice that the mixture starts to push back ever so little as you are stirring it. There is going to be a lot of temptation to adjust the heat to make this happen faster; don't. Soon, the mixture will start to increase in volume a bit. That means it is getting close. How do you tell when it is ready? The mixture will cover a spoon, like pictured above. To be sure, scrape your finger across it. If you leave a trail, you're golden.
Remove it from the heat, keep stirring for a minute. Add in the 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. When the custard base reaches room temperature, cover and chill fully in the fridge, about 6 hours.
Now let's make our pomegranate swirl! Add 1 bottle of Begley's and Bill's Pom Soda to a small sauce pan. Hell, pop one open for yourself. You've been slaving over a hot stove and could use a cold one.
Add in 1 1/2 cups of pomegranate juice and the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar. What I love about using Begley's and Bill's Pom Soda in this recipe is it means less sugar overall. See, when something is cold, it tastes less sweet than it actually is. So frozen goods are surprisingly high in sugar. If we were to make this syrup the traditional way, we'd probably use 2 cups of sugar, but we skim by using the soda instead.
Cook the pomegranate mixture over a medium-high heat, reducing it to about a cup, until the mixture is thick and syrup-like. Chill it completely.
With the ice cream custard base fully chilled, let's make it! Basically, just follow the instructions for your ice cream maker. Should be as simple as that. If this is your first time using your ice cream maker... try not to fuck it up. I kid, sorta.
Next, using a pre-chilled dish, layer the sage ice cream with the pomegranate syrup. You probably won't use all of the syrup, and that is a-okay. Save the rest for when you're serving it, or your next date.
Place the container back in the freezer, covered with plastic wrap, for at least a few hours... just to firm it up.
When you are ready to motorboat the hell out of this stuff, remove it from the freezer and give it 10 minutes at room temperature to soften up.