Lately, I’ve been craving a treat from my childhood- saffron ice cream! This recipe is easy and is guaranteed to wow those who taste it. Saffron ice cream is the perfect treat after a warm day—you just have to trust me on this one! First, a few frequently asked questions about Saffron since it isn’t your everyday spice:
What is saffron?
Saffron is a spice that comes from the flower, Crocus Sativus (aka the Saffron Crocus). The stigma of the flower is hand-harvested and dried, which then becomes saffron.
What does saffron taste like?
The taste of saffron is highly subjective. If you ask a hundred people, you’ll probably get a hundred different answers. Most commonly, people say it tastes sweet with a bitter aftertaste. Some people find it repugnant, while others (like me) absolutely love it. My husband says it tastes like rain. Whatever it tastes like to you, a little goes a long, long way.
What does saffron cost?
Notoriously known as the most expensive spice in the world, Saffron can definitely be on the pricey side. You can expect to spend about $10-20 for a gram of saffron—unlike most spices it is not sold by the ounce because the price would be much higher—about $300 per ounce! Remember, it is very potent and a little goes a long way.
If you want to try out the flavor of saffron, Trader Joes sells Spanish saffron for about $7.
So, how did I get started on my saffron kick?
When I was a young kid my mom’s family mostly lived on the East Coast. I’m half Persian and my Persian family knows how to throw a good party! Whether it was a birthday, a holiday, or just a Tuesday there was always laughter spilling over, conversations ringing through my grandmother’s house and lots of dancing.
And the food. Goodness. Sometimes I literally ache for those days where my closest friends were my cousins and we all lived minutes from each other and my entire family gathered at least weekly. Now we are spread all across the world and celebrations are closer to every couple of years than every couple of days. Lately I had been feeling more nostalgic than ever for my Persian heritage and set out to create one of my favorite treats from my childhood—saffron ice cream.
Scott’s first experience with saffron ice cream was when we went to my cousin’s graduation at UCLA Law school. My family took a detour to the Little Tehran area in LA and we all beelined into a Persian ice cream shop. To me, all the flavors were completely normal—rosewater undertones, chopped pistachio toppings, drinkable yogurts and saffron-spiced cream. I suggested Scott try the saffron (I did as well!) and he was hooked. I’ll admit it…we went back for a second scoop.
I finally ordered an ice cream making attachment for my KitchenAid and set out to recreate saffron ice cream for myself. It was fabulous. Take our orangey-red-stained lips for it. You can do it too. Really, you can simply take your favorite vanilla recipe and sub out saffron for vanilla. But a lot of those recipes require cooking the ingredients, then letting them chill for eight hours and that’s a long time to wait and plan ahead. So I like this no-cook version myself.
To start simply assemble your ingredients and pour the milk and cream into a blender.
Now we need to add the saffron. If you have never worked with it before you’ll probably be surprised at how expensive it is and how different it looks than most spices. With saffron a little goes a long way so start with a bit under a tsp. To make sure the saffron mixed well with the cream I took a few tablespoons of the cream mixture and mixed it with the saffron threads in a mortar and pestle.
You want to get as few saffron threads as possible, so keep grinding them with the pestle. Once it’s as smooth as you can get it, add it into the blender.
Then add the rest of your ingredients.
At this point blend them together and add to your ice cream maker. Follow your manufacture’s instructions from here.
When it was done mixing, it was a soft-serve texture so we froze it all in a pyrex dish for a few hours.
Then we topped with pistachios and mint. NOM NOM.
Try this tasty treat…you won’t be disappointed!
Saffron Ice Cream
inspired by this vanilla ice cream recipe via The Prairie Homestead
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup coconut sugar (or table sugar)
1/8th tsp sea salt
1 tsp saffron
Optional toppings: pistachios and/or mint
Place cream and whole milk in a blender. Use a clean tsp to remove 2-3 tsp of the cream mixture into a mortar bowl. Add the saffron and use the pestle to grind the saffron into the milk in the mortar.
Add the saffron mixture back into the blender and add the other ingredients. Blend well. Pour into your ice cream mixer and follow instructions from your manufacturer.
Top your ice cream with pistachios and/or fresh mint, and enjoy!