All summer long, I’ve been thinking of ice cream. And sherbet, and sorbet. And all the wonderful things I could do if only I were to drop fifty bucks on a kitchen appliance instead of on a fancy dinner. (It’s really hard for me to not spend money on a fancy dinner, especially in Portland.) With every new frozen dessert recipe and idea I saw, I would say it louder: “I’m totally getting an ice cream maker next week.”

Before I knew it, September arrived, and the vapidity of my promises reared its head. I couldn’t let the summer close without that icy churn sitting on my countertop, and so, on Labor Day weekend, I made good. After an agonizing week’s wait, I greeted the UPS man on Friday with a cheer, and I immediately dissected the delivery. I’d already made a couple of bases to go in the bucket as soon as it froze – for grapefruit-fennel sorbet and Thai tea ice cream. I’d had the latter at Staccato Gelato earlier this year and quickly lost the ability to recall my life without it. Since the flavors at Staccato change all the time, I hadn’t had it since, and as soon as I entered my shipping details I knew that this was going to be in the first round.

Thai tea is a cantaloupe-colored drink, rich with sweetened condensed milk. I first heard mention of it from Aunt Carole, whom I always considered the family foodie, when I was a teenager. Her ability to get Thai food in Chicago, however, was much greater than mine in North Carolina. I finally tasted some in college and immediately understood what all the fuss was about. I don’t know what’s in it, and I’m not sure I want to know – I sacrifice some things for the sake of mystery. Its taste is almost rustic, but there’s enough exotic bliss to keep you going, and on a hot day it’s one of the few dairy-laden beverages that cool me off.

I found this recipe from Mac & Cheese, a Philadelphia vegetarian blog. Since most of my extended family is in Philly, and I went to high school there, I’m all about supporting the Delaware Valley foodies. (Tell Grandmom I said hi.) I adore this not only because it tastes great but because it’s got 3 ingredients. Can’t get much more simple than that.

thai tea ice cream

Thai Tea Ice Cream
from Taylor at Mac & Cheese
makes about a quart

1/3 cup loose leaf Thai tea
2 1/2 cups boiling water
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 cup half and half

Steep tea in water 20 minutes, then strain and let cool to room temperature. Mix 1 1/2 cups brewed tea with sweetened condensed milk and half and half. Freeze mixture in your ice cream maker, according to manufacturer’s directions.

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