Spiced Apricot Kernel Ice Cream

Spiced Apricot Kernel Ice Cream

Apricot Kernel
Ice Cream

If you think ice cream is reserved for summer’s innocent vanilla-and-strawberry moments, we invite you to think and taste again. Here’s a flavour combination that celebrates the melting of summer into fall, full of the vivid colour and subtle mystery that make this one of the most delicious
times of year.


September 29, 2015
Text: David Rollins Photography: Rob Lee

Not sure about where you’re from, but around these parts, summer stayed on a spell. September’s the new August, with a bumper crop of berries and orchard fruit pulling focus from fall squash and pumpkins at the markets this week, and for a while to come it seems.

Fascinating to see the fruits of what were once distinctly different seasons so amiably jostling for the limelight. Someone tried to convince us that this was the last chance for blueberries, but there’ll certainly be a few more.

And then it will suddenly be cold.


Our next post will celebrate all things autumnal, but in the meantime it’s been bloody hot, so we’re making ice cream. First of all, apricot kernel. It’s one of the most fascinating flavours in nature – if you’ve tasted Italian amaretti (which are made from apricot kernels, and not almonds as you might suspect), you’ll recognize its almond-extract flavour instantly. It’s also possible to discern the flavour of apricot kernel in certain white wines. It expresses the sweet green of raw almond and the buttery richness of roasted almond at the same time. Bitter and sweet – a perfect emblem of summer’s submission to fall.

If you’ve tasted Italian amaretti
you’ll recognize the almond-extract flavour instantly.

There’s cyanide in apricot kernels, but a spy would have to sew hundreds of them into his lapel to make them a viable option for suicide.


Second, the Silk Road spice blend from our favourite spice merchants, Philippe and Ethné de Vienne. A visit to their store never fails to inspire a new recipe, and our spice shelf creaks under the weight of their wares. This spice blend is inspired by the ancient Silk Road – a crossroads of trade routes laden with flavour, fragrance, and philosophy.

It’s a mind-expanding blend of rose, saffron, white pepper, star anise, Szechuan pepper, fennel, cardamom, ginger, clove, and cassia. It has magical properties, and conjures the same rich overlap of harmonies as the coïncidence of summer and fall.

And no, you don’t need to buy 50 apricots and crack their pits to harvest the kernels to make this recipe, you can buy them here.

Spiced Apricot Kernel Ice Cream

Note that this recipe requires an overnight infusion of the spices and apricot kernels. You can have lots of fun re-creating your own Silk Road spice blend, but Philippe and Ethné’s is really worth putting in your pantry. You can order it online here.

  • 2 C heavy cream, divided
  • 1 C whole milk
  • ½ C sugar
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 50 apricot kernels
  • 1 heaping tbsp. ground Silk Road spice mix
  • salt
  • ½ C chopped pistachios (optional)
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine 1 C of the cream with the milk, sugar and a good pinch of salt. Warm over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until frothy bubbles start to form around the edge of the pan.
  1. Turn off the heat and add the ground spices and apricot kernels. Cover and infuse overnight, or for at least 6 hours. Strain the spices and kernels out of the cream, and again heat the cream until it forms frothy bubbles.
  1. Lightly beat the egg yolks in a medium bowl. Nearly fill a large bowl with ice and water. Rest a smaller bowl in this ice bath. (The smaller bowl should be big enough to hold all of the ingredients comfortably.) Pour the remaining 1 C cream into the smaller bowl, to chill it. Set a fine-meshed sieve over the cream.
  1. Dribble about half of the hot cream mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Then pour this yolk-cream mixture back into the saucepan and stir to combine. Cook over low heat until the custard coats the back of a spoon (175-180º F). Stir constantly and do not overcook, or the custard will curdle.
  1. Strain the hot custard into the cold cream. Cool the custard to below 70º F by stirring it slowly over the ice bath.
  1. If you have an ice cream maker, freeze the custard in it, mixing in the pistachios, if using, into the just-churned ice cream.
  1. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, freeze the custard for an hour, then mix it with a stick blender. Return to the freezer for an hour, then mix again. After a third hour, mix again, including the optional pistachios. The ice cream should be ready after a total of 4 hours of freezing.