Food & Drink

RECIPE: Vanilla Sage Ice Cream + Peach Upside Down Cake

by Couch Sessions


Like any good baker, when summer comes my “baking” tends to become a bit more “in season” – meaning I start making cold desserts that scream summer. This year my neighbor was gracious enough to allow me full range and shared ownership of her ice cream maker, and I have been churning ever since. The recipe I’m sharing with you here was one of the best and most surprising. Seriously, who thinks of sage when they think of ice cream? I’m sure you’re wondering why I would even pair the two. Well, I had a whole lot of sage and a whole lot of time to experiment. Since I also had a whole lot of sour California peaches ripening faster than my appetite, I decided to try Alton Brown’s individual peach upside down cakes as a savory vehicle for this wonderful ice cream.

After so many batches of ice cream and a 3lb bag of sugar, I decided I needed to lighten things up a bit, so I decided to start experimenting with sugar-free sweetening options. So far, I’ve found agave nectar to be one of the most amazing ingredient for ice cream. It completely (kinda) lowers the guilt and calories. Plus, I find that it intensifies the flavor of vanilla without the usual agave flavor. You can also make a regular vanilla ice cream with this recipe just by omitting the sage.

This vanilla sage ice cream recipe is so rich and savory. The sage gives you that warm feeling associated with fall, but it’s so sweet and cool. It’s like the pairing of my two favorite seasons. The peach upside down cake had bits of ginger in the sugar glaze which really took this dessert to the next level.  It’s not necessary to eat them together, I find that they are both equally delicious on their own but at a small dinner party these two recipes will definitely send your guests home raving.

Vanilla Sage Ice Cream (sugar-free)


1 Madagascar vanilla bean
2 cups of heavy
1 cup whole milk
5 egg yolks
1/2 cup agave nectar (or more to your liking)
1/3 cup fresh sage (whole leaves)

Makes 6 servings


1. In a medium sauce pan with lid, add the whole milk, heavy cream, sage and vanilla bean. For the vanilla bean, slit the bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds out with the back of your knife and place them into the sauce pan with the milk and cream. Place the whole bean in the pan as well. Warm the milk and cream mixture just before scalding, you’ll know it’s warm enough when tiny bubbles start to form around the rim of the milk.

2. Take the milk and cream mixture off the heat and cover with the pot lid to allow the sage and vanilla time to steep about 10-15 min.

3. Separate the eggs and whip the yolks until they are light yellow. Temper the milk and egg mixture by pouring about 1/4 cup of the milk mixture into the yolks while stirring vigorously. Once the milk is incorporated pour the egg and milk mixture into the sauce pan with the other ingredients and stir until fully incorporated.

4. Using a sieve, pour the milk, cream, and egg mixture into a bowl or container. Make sure that the sage and vanilla bean are removed. The sieve will ensure there are no clumps or strange bits in your base. Place the ice cream base in the refrigerator or freezer.

5. Allow the mixture to cool completely and follow the directions for your ice cream maker. While your ice cream maker is churning add the agave nectar so that it mixes completely. If you don’t have an ice cream maker you can always use the ice cream in a bag shake method for a good workout be sure to add the agave nectar before placing the mixture in the bag.

The recipe for Alton Brown’s peach upside down cakes can be found here.