Diana Henry: Pink Grapefruit and Basil Ice Cream

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Telegraph food writer and James Beard award-winning cookbook author Diana Henry has published her new cookbook How to Eat a Peach celebrating menus, stories and places. ‘This is possibly the best ice cream I’ve ever made. I’d been doing a good lemon and basil ice for years… then it struck me that the bitterness of grapefruit might be good with the almost cloying sweetness of basil. I was right. The colour will vary depending on the juice of your grapefruit, sometimes it is very pale pink, sometimes almost coral-coloured. Remove the ice cream from the freezer about 10 minutes before you want to serve it, to allow it to soften a little.’

Serves 6


Finely grated zest and juice of 1 pink grapefruit
50g (1¾oz) granulated sugar
300ml (½ pint) whole milk
35 basil leaves
4 large egg yolks
75g (2¾oz) caster sugar
150ml (5fl oz) whipping cream
1–2 tablespoons lemon juice 


1. Put the grapefruit zest and granulated sugar into a mortar and pound with the pestle. Heat the milk with the pounded zest mixture until it reaches boiling point. Remove from the heat and tear in the basil leaves roughly. Cover and set aside to infuse for a couple of hours.

2. Using electric beaters, beat the egg yolks with the caster sugar until pale and thick. Strain the flavoured milk into a jug, using the back of a spoon to press out all the flavour from the basil and the grapefruit zest. Stir this into the egg mixture and put it into a clean, heavy-based pan. Over a low heat, stirring all the time, heat the custard until it thickens slightly. It needs to be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (you should be able to run your finger through it and leave a channel). Be really careful, as the eggs will scramble if it gets too hot. Immediately pour it into a cool bowl (I set the bowl in a sink full of water and ice cubes, to help stop the cooking immediately). Leave the custard to get to room temperature, stirring from time to time as it cools.

3. Whip the cream until it holds its shape, being careful not to take it too far. Fold into the custard, then stir in the grapefruit juice and 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice. Taste before adding any more lemon juice: it should enhance the grapefruit flavour, not overwhelm it. Churn in an ice cream machine, or transfer to a shallow container and put in the freezer. If you’re using the manual method, take the ice cream out and churn it – either using electric beaters or by putting the mixture in a food processor – 3 times during the freezing process. Do this first after about 1 hour, when the mixture is setting round the edges, then at 2-hour intervals. Cover with a lid, or with cling film or greaseproof paper, between each churning, and when you store it.

4. Serve with plain biscuits, or on its own. It doesn’t need anything else.

This Pink Grapefruit and Basil Ice Cream recipe is part of a larger menu that Diana created in her book How to Eat a Peach – links for the other recipes are below:

Spinach and Ricotta Gnudi

Leg of Lamb Stuffed with Lemon and Many Herbs


Broad Beans with Lettuce, Shallots and Mint


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