Cold Comfort Ice Cream: Creative Ice Cream Recipes from Snowy New England

Saffron Ice Cream

Posted on: October 19, 2009

Saffron Threads of Glory.

Saffron Threads of Glory.


I have to admit, I initially had some doubts about this one. Especially after one not-so-encouraging family member remarked that it would probably turn into paella ice cream. But I was intrigued by this flavor’s beautiful color, and encouraged by the fact that it is a much loved and time honored flavor in many parts of the world. Millions of people across generations can’t be wrong right? Well sometimes they are, but not in this case! This ice cream was so good! Exotic without being too “out there”. Fragrant, slightly floral, sweet and satisfying.


The saffron in its milky bath.

The saffron in its milky bath.


This recipe requires taking a few hours to let the saffron steep in the milk, cream and sugar. This allows the saffron to bloom and releases its delicious flavor and gorgeous, vibrant yellow color. My photography doesn’t even fully capture the amazing pop of sunny yellow color of this ice cream. Just remember to plan ahead, the important steeping step will take a little longer to prepare than your typical custard based ice cream.


So colorful!

So colorful!


After the saffron steeps, you carefully take out the saffron threads and reserve them as the precious powerhouses of flavor that they are. Then you heat the milk up and add it some whisked egg yolks, which just makes the ice cream base even brighter. Put the whole mixture back of low heat to finish up the base and let cool. Then you’re ready to roll!


Exotic and lovely.

Exotic and lovely.


When I took my first bite, I was bowled over at what a great flavor this is. It is so good that the only reason I can think of that this ice cream is not more commonplace is the expense of the saffron. And I can’t really argue with that.  Saffron is, after all, the most expensive spice in the world. However, I was able to find some good saffron for a relatively cheap price at my local Trader Joe’s. So fear not intrepid fellow ice cream makers on a budget! This ice cream does not have to be so cost prohibitive.


The call me mellow yellow...

They call me mellow yellow...


This ice cream was such a success, that even the aformentioned saffron naysayer turned into an instant convert after one bite. I could definitely see myself serving this as a finale to an Indian or Middle Eastern meal. I think any guests to such an occasion would be delighted by the ice cream’s electric hue and creamy, fragrant flavor. There is a reason why saffron is known the world round as the most precious and prized of spices. This glowing ice cream is proof of the fact that saffron really does make everything better!


Saffron Ice Cream




1 teaspoon saffron threads

1 3/4 cups heavy cream

1 3/4 cups whole milk

2/3 cup sugar

6 large egg yolks

pinch of salt


1.)    Place and milk, cream, sugar and saffron in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to the barest simmer for a few minutes and then cover the mixture, take it off the heat, and let it steep for an hour or two.

 2.)    Gently remove saffron threads from warm milk mixture, saving for later. Heat saffron milk in a medium saucepan and set over medium heat. Heat until bubbles appear near the rim of the saucepan and steam begins to rinse, but do not let it boil.

 3.)    Meanwhile vigorously whisk the egg yolks together in a large bowl for a few minutes.

 4.)    All the while whisking the egg yolks, slowly and gradually add the saffron milk mixture and when fully emulsified, pour the mixture back into the medium saucepan. Over low heat constantly mix the base with a spatula or wooden spoon until it thickens slightly and can coat the back of a wooden spoon, about 6-7 minutes.

 5.)    Immediately remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl, mix in the reserved saffron threads. Add the pinch of salt and refrigerate 4 hours to overnight. Freeze according to your ice cream machine’s instructions.  


Make it a sundae!


 This ice cream would be delicious and stunning with warmed honey drizzled on top and chopped green pistachios glimmering against the ice cream like emeralds on gold.


1 Response to "Saffron Ice Cream"

If you like saffron, you will love this rigatoni with braised chicken and saffron cream. It is unbelievable.

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