Burnt Meyer Lemon Buttermilk Ice Cream

One of the best things about making ice cream at home is that of all the many foods you can cook, it is both very forgiving and very open to experimention. Once you learn a small set of basic techniques you can let the mad scientist in you run wild.

Last night I wanted to make some ice cream for dessert. After looking in my refrigerator I saw that I had some half and half, some buttermilk and some Meyer Lemons on hand. Also the idea of a caramel appealed to me at that moment. So I went to iloveicecream.net (what an awesome website! 🙂 ) and found two recipes I could mix and match from to make ice cream from what I had on hand.

Burnt Orange Ice Cream

Buttermilk Ice Cream

I primarily used the Burnt Orange recipe to see how to make a citrus caramel and the Buttermilk recipe to find out that the buttermilk is added in after the custard is heated up on the stove. So here is what I came up with. Note this ended up being a relatively low fat, low sugar recipe.

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  • 1 Large Meyer Lemon zested and juiced. Try to have around ¼ - ½ a cup of juice.
  • ½ cup of table sugar
  • ¾ cup of half and half
  • ¾ cup of buttermilk
  • 2 egg yolks
  • ¼ teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  1. Combine half the sugar, and the 2 egg yolks and salt in heat proof, medium sized bowl. It needs to be big enough to hold the whole recipe.
  2. Combine zest and half and half in a saucepan and bring almost to a boil. Stir so that mixture doesn't burn. Remove from heat.
  3. Now we are going to make a simple caramel from the juice and sugar. In a heavy bottomed saucepan add half the sugar to the lemon juice. Bring to a boil over a medium low heat. Let the mixture boil until it starts to brown, swirl the mixture occasionally. I found that I had to add a tablespoon of sugar after awhile to kick it over the point of caramelizing. Once its starts to brown it does so quickly, so start stirring with a fork. You want to go for at least an orange brown color, but brown it as deeply as you wish, just keep it moving so that it doesn't burn. When you are finished remove from heat.
  4. Slowly add about ½ cup of the half and half/zest mixture to the caramel, whisking vigorously. Mixture will bubble and steam. when things calm down, add the rest in a thin steady stream, continuing to whisk. I prefer to use a fork for all this whisking as there isn't enough custard to fully engage a whisk. Return the caramel to the stove and cook over a very low heat until everything is well mixed and hot.
  5. Remove mixture from heat and in a series of small trickles pour into the bowl containing the egg yolks, whisking vigorously. The point here is to combine everything slowly enough so that the eggs don't overcook into scrambled eggs. If you are leery of this process you can use a more traditional tempering method.
  6. Pour the combined mixture back into the caramel saucepan and cook over a medium low heat stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens. 170 degrees Fahrenheit on a reliable instant read thermometer is good. Do NOT let it come even close to boil.
  7. Pour mixture into a clean bowl and stir in the buttermilk and vanilla.
  8. If you have a freezer/compressor ice cream maker you can pour the mixture into it as soon as you would like and freeze as per the manufacturers instructions. One pint wont take more than 20 minutes or so to freeze.
  9. If you have freezer bowl style maker, refrigerate the mixture until its cold, at least 2 hours, before making. For other pre-chilling methods click here.


So how did it turn out? Well I wont be entering any ice cream competitions with this recipe but it did the job, everyone forced to try it (little persuasion needed), liked it. I found the citrus caramel and buttermilk flavors worked very well together as I had hoped. Mission accomplished.

This ice cream freezes hard after an extended period in the freezer.  Microwave for 10 seconds to soften before scooping and serving.

Though I found the recipe plenty sweet for my taste, if you have strong sweet tooth that would be the first thing I would suggest changing. Maybe add a 1/4 to 1/3 cup more sugar. Next I think I would try heavy cream in place of the half and half or maybe add tablespoon of cornstarch to smooth out the texture a bit more.

A good video from finecooking.com on making caramels.

Buttermilk Ice Cream

What to do with the buttermilk left over from making pancakes, why make ice cream of course. For some reason it seems to be impossible to buy buttermilk in any quantity smaller than a quart. Well after you try this simple, if rich to the point of insanity, recipe, you may be purchasing buttermilk to make ice cream, and using the leftovers for pancakes.This truly is an insane ice cream. It uses 12 egg yolks. That’s right, an entire dozen egg yolks! If you want to be a stickler about it, this really isn’t even ice cream but a frozen custard. If you used milk for most of the heavy cream, you would have a gelato. If you used 24 eggs you would have a world record! Actually I shouldn’t joke, I bet I will eventually find an eggnog ice cream recipe or something similar, that comes in at 24 eggs. I like what Deb Perlman at The Smitten Kitchen says towards the end of the post.

 I’m going to share with you a little secret: You don’t need to use all of these egg yolks. Oh sure, you can and the results will blow your ice cream-loving mind. However, let’s say you find that you only have six or eight egg yolks on hand, this will also do. The ice cream will be less rich, but still incredibly more rich than anything you can buy at any store.

I’m all in for any recipe that will blow my ice cream loving mind!!!

Butter Milk Ice Cream Recipe at The Smitten Kitchen blog.


Update: 05/19/2013

I have found that this buttermilk ice cream recipe makes a very nice base for other flavors.  Here is a version to use as a base that gives you about 3/4 of a quart:

Buttermilk Ice Cream
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A ¾ quart buttermilk ice cream base. With non-fruit ice creams (nut, chocolate etc..) I like to use brown sugar. With fruit ice creams I use white sugar.
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ⅓ cup white or brown sugar
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  1. Add the egg yolks to a blender. Cover with the blender lid with the pour hole open.
  2. Heat cream and sugar in a 3 or 4 quart heavy bottom pot, stirring until steaming and bubbles start forming around the edges. Remove the pot from the heat.
  3. Turn the blender on a low speed and very gradually pour the hot cream mix, in a VERY thin stream into the blending eggs. Turn off the blender 5 seconds after the mix has been completely added.
  4. Pour the mix back into the pot and return to heat. Heat, stirring until the temperature reaches 170 F on a good instant read thermometer or you can coat the back of your spoon or spatula with the mix, run your finger through it and leave a trail that doesn't intermediately fill back in.
  5. Take pot off the stove right away.
  6. At this point you need to combine in the buttermilk and vanilla. Also any additional flavors that you wont be adding in as mix-ins later in your ice cream maker. What I do is add everything back to blender and blend together (with the lid on, pour hole closed!) on a high speed for 10 or 15 seconds. A blender acts as a poor mans homogenizer, giving you a better emulsion and adding some air to the mix. This will result in a smoother, lighter texture. However note that you still will have some raw egg in your blender unless you clean it water over 160 F first. This is a potential health risk If you don't want to risk it you can simply whisk everything together in a bowl.
  7. Pre-chill as needed.
  8. Freeze in your ice cream maker as per manufacturers instructions.
  9. Best eaten right out of the ice cream maker or within 6 hours in your freezer.