250ml/8 fl oz (1 cup) milk
500ml/17 fl oz (2 cups plus 1 tablespoon) fresh cream (fat content 35–40%)
pinch of salt
25–30 freshly picked peach leaves, washed and dried
5 large egg yolks
150g/5½ oz (¾ cup) caster (superfine) sugar

Four peach trees grow in the walled garden at Ballymaloe. Each tree is espaliered against a tall south-facing limestone wall. There are two varieties: the white-fleshed Peregrine and the yellow-fleshed Rochester. Before the fruit ripens, the lush, fragrant leaves can be harvested from the trees. The long, soft leaves have an aroma of bitter almonds, and if you scrunch one in the palm of your hand, you will release the volatile scent. The fragrance of these leaves can be extracted and used to flavour set creams, ice creams and syrups. In the case of this ice cream, the flavour of the leaves is extracted by infusing them into the base of a custard. The custard is then churned into a smooth and luscious ice cream. This recipe can also be used to make fig-leaf ice cream; see the note at the end of the method. Fig leaves have a wonderful flavour, somewhere between fresh figs and coconut.

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1.Place the milk, cream and salt in a heavy pan and put on a medium heat. Stir from time to time as the mixture heats to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
2.Once the creamy milk comes to a simmer, remove from the heat and drop in the peach leaves. Take a moment to enjoy the delicate aromas released from the leaves.
3.After 3 minutes, strain the now-fragrant liquid into a clean pan and discard the leaves. If the leaves are left in the milk for too long, the flavour tends to get too bitter.
4.Set up an ice bath large enough to accommodate the pan of milk.
5.Place the pan on a low heat.
6.Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a bowl and when the milk mixture is just below simmering point, remove from the heat and pour it in a steady stream onto the yolks, whisking continuously.
7.Return the mixture to the pan on a low heat.
8.Stir constantly with a flat-bottomed wooden spoon, keeping a close eye that the custard never boils. Eventually the custard will slightly thicken.
9.To test if it is ready, lift the wooden spoon out of the custard and run your finger across the back of it; it should be thick enough to cling to the spoon and leave the trail your finger made.
10.Alternatively, use a thermometer to monitor the temperature. When the custard reaches 82°C it is ready.
11.Place the bottom of the pan into the ice bath to stop the cooking process and cool the custard.
12.The custard can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
13.Freeze the mixture in an ice-cream machine according to the manufacturer’s directions.
14.This ice cream is best served the day it is churned, but it can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.
16.Swap out the peach leaves with four medium-sized, freshly picked fig leaves, main stem removed.
17.Lightly toast the leaves on a hot pan (skillet) for about 20 seconds on each side – this will intensify the flavour of the leaves.
18.Infuse the heated milk and cream with the toasted leaves for about 30 minutes, to achieve a good flavour, then proceed as described in the method above.

Recipes and images
extracted from Ballymaloe
Desserts: Iconic Recipes
and Stories from Ireland by
JR Ryall
. Photography by
Cliodhna Prendergast.
Published by Phaidon, $95.