Tell me, what is the very first thing you think of, when you see or hear the word “woodruff”? Probably the same I connect it with, a pretty nasty green color. For sure if you grew up in the 70s and 80s.
Woodruff as a flavour popped up everywhere in my childhood. I remember (artificially flavoured) woodruff jelly cups at the supermarket which had the most appalling green color, nothing I ever wanted to try (but obviously there was a target group), or the famous ice cream popsicles called “Dolomiti” and “Grünofant“.
Funny, how a few of those memories can be enough to forever link a particular flavour to a specific color. Even more so, as I used woodruff from time to time and my own experiences proved to me, that the green color was no byproduct at all. Which is why my lastest ice cream favorite may not be anything special from a visual point-of-view. It has an egg-less heavy cream and milk base, a blank ice cream canvas so to speak, and its appearance doesn’t give away anything about its super-fragrant aroma.
Even my neighbourhood grocery shop now sells little woodruff flower pots and after explaining the lady at the cashier why it doesn’t smell at all (it only releases its potent aroma once wilted), I waited impatiently for the almond-y scent to show up. But nothing happened for 3 days straight. I started to doubt the little flower pot, didn’t the leaves look a little darker than I remembered my past woodruff pots? But day no.4 came and as soon as I had opened our bedroom door in the morning I could smell it – the woodruff scent was lingering throughout our whole apartment and found – only a few hours later – its way into an ice cream base.
Btw, around the same time our neighbourhood got a splendid new ice cream shop. True & 12 just opened its doors and we couldn’t be any happier. Great philosophy and ingredients, the owners Davina and Rony know their trade and most importantly, their ice cream is exactly up our alley, pure and not overly sweet. Some odd gravitational force made us stop there already three times last week, favorites so far: Piemontese hazelnut, Bronte pistachio, coffee, Chai, chocolate, goat milk with honey,… But if you don’t have a chance to stop by at True & 12, maybe this woodruff ice cream is a good alternative to get your ice cream fix…
Cut a few (3-5) sprigs of fresh woodruff, wash under running cold water, then shake dry. Bind together with kitchen twine and leave hanging in a dry spot until it starts to release its intense aroma (might take some days!). Then you can start making ice cream and proceed with the next step.
Pour heavy cream and milk into a small pot and add the wilted woodruff, sugar, salt and liqueur. Heat (but don’t let it boil), remove from stove and let steep (covered) for at least an hour. Then chill the ice cream base in the fridge for at least 3 hours. Taste test as you go, you can always remove the woodruff if the flavour gets intense – but remember, once frozen, the aroma will be milder!
Then set up your ice cream machine, pour the mix into the bowl (I strain the wilted herbs in the same step) and wait until churned to your desired consistency. Fill into a pre-chilled container and keep in the freezer until ice cream hunger strikes. I love to drizzle some raspberry coulis over it (woodruff and berries go together wonderfully!) and make a mess…
Woodruff Ice Cream
Recipe source: own creation
Active prep time: about 15 min., chilling: at least 3 hours, plus the time in your ice cream machine
Ingredients (~5 to 7 scoops):
3-5 wilted woodruff sprigs
450 ml heavy cream
200 ml whole milk
115g sugar (3 tbsp of it being homemade vanilla sugar)
a pinch of sea salt
1 tbsp liqueur (rum, cognac or amaretto)
serve with fresh berries or berry coulis