History Dish Mondays: Lemon Ice Cream

I’m planning an Ice Cream Social for the late spring, possibly to coincide with the Kentucky Derby. So I wanted to begin testing out a few ice cream recipes, and I decided to use the menu for Lincoln’s second inaugural banquet as a reference. Because if it was good enough for Lincoln, it’s good enough for me!

Lincoln’s guests were treated to Burnt Almond Ice Cream, which is built around a caramel base; Maraschino ice cream; and Lemon ice cream, which my friend Eva at the Merchant’s House Museum tells me was one of the most popular ice creams in the 19th century. I’ll be trying all of these, along with two modern creations (Cashew Cookie Dough and Chai Tea) and a frozen Mint Julep inspired by Jerry Thomas’ original julep recipe.

But first, Lemon Ice Cream. The recipe is as simple as can be. I made only a small amount, but this recipe can be multiplied to suit your needs.

1 pint cream
1/2 cup sugar
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Add the sugar to the cream, a little at a time, and mix until combined. Grate the zest of one lemon into the cream mixture, being careful not to add any of the bitter, white pith. Juice the lemon and add to the cream, mix to combine.

Let the mixture sit in the refrigerator for an hour or more to steep. I let mine sit overnight. Pour to mixture through a fine sieve or cheesecloth to remove the lemon zest. Pour into an ice cream maker, and let it freeze for about 15 minutes. Be careful not to over mix, or you’ll get frozen lemon butter. I like ice cream straight from the ice cream maker; the texture is similar to soft serve. But it is generally suggested that it should harden in the freezer for at least an hour before serving.

Left: The mixture of cream, sugar and lemon steeps. Right: Coming out of the ice cream maker. I left it in a little too long and it got a little buttery, but it was still good.

Rating: A+ This was easy to make and Delicious. Refreshing and smooth, this would be really enjoyable on a summer day. But it’s very, very rich–it is pure cream, so a little goes a long way.