Recipe: Frankincense Ice Cream

I like a little mystery in the midst of routine. A drizzle of scented massage oil makes the evening fly by. A simple puff of incense fills every crevice of my home with glorious serenity. And of all possible aromas, Frankincense reigns supreme.

Ever since I was a little girl, poised with wonder under the glittering Christmas tree, Frankincense has captivated me. My little brain could never quite grasp what on earth Frankincense was or why it was so special, but that didn’t stop me from dreaming of the magical era when a gift of Frankincense was as beloved as gold.

In fact, the mystery only made it seem more special.

Then, thundering in from the far reaches of Oman comes Frankincense Ice Cream. Each nibble is creamy and sweet – Frankincense has an alluring bite of pine, sweet ginger, something like orange zest, and foggy twilight smiles.

In my research I  learned that Frankincense is resin (a.k.a. dried sap)  from the Boswellia tree. The highest quality flows creamy white and is called luban, meaning “milk,”  although the color can vary from soft yellow, to rich amber or even luminous green. It just depends on the season.

While you can find ice cream with sprinkles of frankincense resin on it all over Oman, the creamy ice cream as I’ve made today seems to have been popularized by a woman named Trygve Harris. Her creamy scoops draw Omanis and foreigners alike.

A frankincense tree (Boswellia sacra) at Wadi Dowkah Natural Park (Dhofar, Oman) and, below, sap. Photos by Mauro Raffaelli. Closeup of bark by Ben Norvell.

While you can get lost in wisps of Frankincense Ice Cream any time of year, I’d highly recommend serving generous bowls during the winter, when the crunch of snow and pine surround you and your heart is filled with the holiday spirit.

Frankincense Ice Cream would also be a grand addition to a Halloween party. After all, the mysterious scent of Frankincense transforms even the humblest room into a fortune teller’s parlor… equal parts creepy and mysterious.

Finally, any ice cream – even Frankincense – is great right now, in the glint and glimmer of summer.

Just don’t drop your cone.

No, really.

I tried to stop her. Really, I did. 

Thanks to Laura Kelley of Silk Road Gourmet for tipping me off to this fascinating treat, as well as the Chicago Reader for selling me on making it. 

*Very Important 100% pure Frankincense oil should never be consumed “straight,” but should always be diluted. Please read the following article on the side effects (and benefits) of consuming Frankincense essential oils prior to consuming frankincense oil. While their label may say “Not for consumption”, the company Aura Cacia (available at Whole Foods) has stated that (for their products) this has more to do with USDA regulations than the actual safety of the product (assuming that the essential oil is 100% pure boswellia sacra, with no additives). Read the entire article for more information. After reading all this material I felt comfortable serving this dish to my family (as they do in Oman without a second thought). None of us suffered any ill effects. Please make the decision that’s right for your family.

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
10-15 drops 100% pure frankincense oil (boswellia sacra), available at health food stores*
1 cup sugar, divided in half
3 egg yolks

Method:

Breathe in the beauty of Frankincense. Close your eyes and travel to the exotic heart of Oman.

Door in a village in Jebel Akhdar, Oman. Photo by Andries Oudshoorn.

On your voyage you’ll need little more than cream, milk, sugar, eggs and… 100% pure Frankincense oil (Boswellia Sacra).

First, whip three golden balls of sunshine with a 1/2 cup of sugar

You want  the mixture to become thick and soft yellow.

Meanwhile, heat up the milk, cream and remaining sugar in a medium pot.  Slide off the stove right before it reaches a bubble and whisk the hot liquid a little at a time into your egg mixture.

Return to medium-low heat and cook until thickened and the velvety mixture coats the back of a spoon.

Even the steam crawls through the air like incense. Beautiful.Whisk in the frankincense drops to taste and strain. Tip: the oil will want to separate so move quickly to incorporate it (as though you’re making salad dressing). Chill the mixture in an ice bath or overnight in the refrigerator.

Churn in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.

(P.S. Have you entered our weekly giveaway? This week we’re giving away a Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker to one lucky winner)

Be sure to enjoy with a little flicker of fire.

And a wisp of a daydream.

Breathe in.

Breathe out.

This is your chance: lap up cooling, spiced Omani dreams.

Where incense is good enough to eat… and tastes like a mystery. This is ice cream that’s been kissed by a cluster of gentle pines, sweet ginger, and the ghost of oranges.

Enjoy the moment.

Wrap yourself in relaxation.

Let the ice cream lift your senses and encourage a smile to curl up from the corner of your lips.

It’s worth it.

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Comments

  1. Jessica Bennett says:

    Beautiful! It really comes across how much you enjoyed this- from the research and your memories to the detailed touches of the table setting.

    • Sasha Martin says:

      Thanks Jessica – it was such an unusual treat – it really was really fun to try and was doubly happy that I liked it :)

  2. I really loved that creamer pot, is it form crate and barrel. It is really cute. And, where did you get that blue incense burner..Do you mind sharing the website.

    • Sasha Martin says:

      Thanks Devangi – the creamer is from Williams Sonoma. The incense burner was a gift from a friend – I don’t know where they purchased it unfortunately!

  3. Your pictures are always beautiful, but these are really wonderufl. Can’t wait to try the ice cream!

  4. This is to die for…what I wouldn’t give for a taste of this icecream.

    Love Frankenscense…great to light the nuggets and the inscense fills the house…

    I use powdered dried Frankenscence 2/3 with 1/3 powdered dried Myrrh for a soothing/healing tea to rinse and rinse your mouth-teeth-gums…excellent after brushing. Definitely astringent.

    “yes…Gold Frankenscense & Myrrh” is the way to go…

  5. Collette Lemons says:

    Where did you buy Frankincense? I would love to try this.

  6. What a creative ice cream flavor– w/ all the creative flavors out there don’t think I’ve seen frankincense yet!

    • Sasha Martin says:

      I hadn’t either – it was really exciting to try since I had no idea going into it what on earth frankincense ice cream would taste like :)

  7. I’m a little confused… you keep mentioning other flavors in this ice cream — orange and ginger — but they aren’t in the ingredients.

    • Sasha Martin says:

      Ohhhh, it’s just my attempt to describe the very unusual flavor of frankincense… there are little hints of those goodies in the flavor of frankincense. Sorry for the confusion!

  8. ohh…very excited to try..perhaps on Christmas Eve …. so far this is the only recipe I see with frankincense and food….maybe it would work to add mystery into meringues or truffle fillings or pound cake…. your pine/ginger/orange profile as notes withing frankincense seems about right… THANKS for this inspiration..

  9. First of all, thank you for this blog! It is so interesting to try foods from different places. Secondly, I have a quick question. Did you dilute the 10-15 drops of frankincence oil, or did you just put them in there straight? I am just confused because it mentioned that one shouldn’t consume the oil undiluted, but the recipe didn’t mention any dilution. I am looking forward to trying this!

    • Sasha Martin says:

      Oh, I see the confusion.. actually, the milk etc is enough to dilute it. Great question though… Can’t wait to hear what you think, Nick. Good luck & enjoy :)

  10. Now I am going away to do my breakfast, once having my breakfast coming over again
    to read other news.

  11. How interesting about the Frankincense oil. I’d never considered what it was although I’ve heard about it. Thank you for an interesting and educational post about it. Delicious and beautiful ice cream you’ve shared! :)

  12. I found your site by searching for whether using the powdered boswellia serrata in a cookie would compromise it’s integrity due to the heat. Would you know if it is common to cook with it? BTW i subscribed & may decide to make this ice-cream today instead!

  13. welcome to Oman .. loved the ice cream :)

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Could he really think the Stuffed Date Balls are good? To be fair, he had no idea what they were when he ate them, except I did warn him that the crunchy thing inside was an almond. Still, these date balls seem more challenging to me than sushi, more challenging that the raw beef soup for Laos, more challenging than the frankincense ice cream. [...]

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