Honey-Thyme & Blackberry–Goat Cheese Swirl Ice Cream

Honey-Thyme & Blackberry–Goat Cheese Swirl Ice Cream

There is a lot of berry picking nostalgia tied to my childhood. Having a whole lot of woodsy property meant random wild blueberry bushes and happening upon the occasional tiny little wild strawberries, along with a giant huckleberry bush in a clearing and a decent number of raspberries along the driveway. But blackberries were the most abundant, popping up around the edge of our lawn, all along the driveway and main road, and covering a semi-secret enormous hillside a little ways outside our property line. Which is perhaps why they’ve always been my favorite berry. Strawberries are fleshy and sweet. Raspberries are tart and delicate. But blackberries are intense. They are hearty, seedy things. (I might be among the minority here, but I love berry seeds.) Their appearance means season change is just around the corner. Goodbye gross summer and hellooooo glorious fall. Bring on the sweaters, scarves, and birthday cake.

Honey-Thyme & Blackberry–Goat Cheese Swirl Ice Cream

Just FYI, if you’re ever looking for someone to go blackberry picking with, I am so your girl. Not in a romantic way. (Is berry picking generally considered a lovely weekend activity, or have I just been living in Vermont for too long?) In an I-will-wear-a-sweater-and-jeans-tucked-into-socks-in-the-middle-of-August-and-prepare-for-battle way. I get obsessive. To the point where I will carefully make my way into a thicket, then less skillfully back my way out once I realize I’ve gone too far, snagged hair and skin and clothes be damned. If I see ripe berries, I want them. All. ALL THE BERRIES.

blackberries + thyme

So yeah, after all that, I wish I could tell you about how I picked these berries. Buuut, I didn’t. I bought them at the store. :D (Points for honesty! Yes?) Regardless of where they came from, the smell and taste of blackberries immediately reminds me of being covered in fresh scratches and bruise-colored stains. And this batch was particularly delicious. I’m not sure my childhood self would have been into the combination of thyme and blackberries, but it’s one of my favorites now. Let honey and goat cheese join the ice cream party and, oh yeah, we’re in serious business.

Honey-Thyme & Blackberry–Goat Cheese Swirl Ice Cream

Honey-Thyme & Blackberry–Goat Cheese Swirl Ice Cream

I’ve had my eye on Linda’s honey-thyme ice cream since last year, and I knew it would be awesome in conjunction with the blackberries. This recipe gave me the chance to work on my swirl technique after a previous failure, and it turned out a bit better (although I’ll admit, that was kind of by accident — things got all melty and out of hand very quickly, and I sort of gave it a quick stir before saying “gah! enough!” and just throwing it in the freezer). And after dealing with post–photo sesh melty ice cream, I wound up with a fully incorporated (or, in other words, non-existent) swirl anyway. Both, quite frankly, are delicious. The swirled version was the contrast of the sweet-savory honey-thyme base with intense rivers of tangy goat cheesy blackberriness. When everything wound up mixed together, the result was an ice cream that tasted like a grown up black raspberry. Regardless of swirl or no swirl, I highly recommend garnishing a bowl of this stuff with some chopped chocolate or bits of candied ginger (or just mix them right in if you’re going the no-swirl route).

Honey-Thyme & Blackberry–Goat Cheese Swirl Ice Cream

Honey-Thyme & Blackberry–Goat Cheese Swirl Ice Cream

Sooooo I got in a photo groove and took a thousand photos of the ice cream. I hope no one minds!!

Honey-Thyme & Blackberry–Goat Cheese Swirl Ice Cream

Honey-Thyme & Blackberry–Goat Cheese Swirl Ice Cream

Honey-Thyme & Blackberry–Goat Cheese Swirl Ice Cream

(adapted from The New York Times via The Tart Tart)

Note: I used a creamy goat cheese from Vermont Butter & Cheese Creamery. (If you read my last post, you know all about my stash of VTB&CC goodies!) If you can’t find creamy goat cheese, use normal goat cheese and reduce the amount to just a little over 2 tbsp.

1 cup whole milk

2 cups heavy cream

6 large sprigs fresh thyme (approximately 4″ long)

4 egg yolks

3/4 cup honey

2 pints of blackberries

1 1/2 cups of sugar

3 tbsp of creamy goat cheese

Mix blackberries and sugar together in a bowl. Cover and let sit for an hour, then macerate until blackberries have been crushed as much as possible. Push through a sieve and stir in goat cheese.

Combine milk, cream, and thyme in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat, cover, and let sit for 20 minutes, the strain out thyme sprigs.

Whisk egg yolks together. Temper by whisking in warm cream mixture, a spoonful at a time, until you’ve added about a cup of the cream. Whisk in honey, then scrape the warmed egg mixture into the original saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture coats the back of a spoon.

Refrigerate mixture until chilled — ideally overnight. (If you aren’t going to bother with the swirl, mix the blackberry and goat cheese directly into the custard before you chill it. If not, keep it chilled separately.) Process in your ice cream maker as per the manufacturer’s instructions. When ice cream is finished churning, add a layer to the bottom of a large tin. Add a drizzle of the blackberry–goat cheese syrup, then lightly swirl in with a chopstick or knife. Add another layer if ice cream and repeat. Continue until all the ice cream is in the tin.

Honey-Thyme & Blackberry–Goat Cheese Swirl Ice Cream

Honey-Thyme & Blackberry–Goat Cheese Swirl Ice Cream


  1. says

    No… no one minds… more photos. MORE! Those are by far the most gorgeous blackberries I have ever seen. I just went raspberry picking this past weekend, and am seriously hoping to get in some more berry-picking before the season is over (if you lived closer, I would absolutely drag you out there with me).

    I tried my first goat cheese ice cream last year, when I made a honey + goat cheese + fig swirl ice cream, and it was absolutely decadent. The addition of thyme is absolutely genius. Wish I had a big bowl of this right now!

    • says

      Oh man, you totally made the ice cream I was dreaming of making this year!! I wanted so bad to do a honey + goat cheese + fig ice cream, but pretty much all the figs we get around these parts are total misses. :( After I gave up on the dream, I fixated on blackberries instead, and this ice cream happened!

      • says

        Honestly, the blackberries sound just as good if not better. Figs have such a mild flavor, and the blackberries would lend a bit of bright, almost citrusiness that I think would go really well with the goat cheese. Figs around here are pretty tough to come across as well, but I guess I got lucky. A friend of mine used to have a fig tree that did surprisingly well in our climate, and it’s always been in the back of my mind… wish I had one!

  2. says

    Possibly the loveliest (and certainly most tempting) flavour combinations for an ice cream I’ve seen in recent times! I wish I had more berry-picking memories from childhood… I didn’t grow up where it was realistic but now I’m trying to make up for it in young-adulthood :)

    • says

      Thank you, Kathryn! I’m a little sad thinking about the end of summer, but I’m also happy for the season change. Especially since it means blackberries. :)

  3. says

    Stunning photos! Love your choice of background browns that so delicately offset the purples in the ice cream!

    I can relate to your berry picking nostalgia. I used to do the same when I was younger (not blackberries but other wild ones) and I wish I could these days but, living in NYC, I have settled for buying them from farmers :)

  4. says

    Oh my gosh. Carey! I LOVE how your photos came out! They are seriously dreamy. And the ripples in that ice cream! I think you nailed the swirl. Also, I gasped when I saw the photo of the blackberries and thyme. It is so, so gorgeous. All in all, this looks amazing. I’m so glad you went with the honey thyme ice cream.

    And I’ve always wanted to go berry-picking! I feel like it’s one of those quintessential summer things you do when you’re a kid and you’ve got nothing to do and you’re playing outside. The most picking my sister and I ever did was sneaking lemons from our neighbor’s lemon tree. Until he caught on to what we were doing and yelled at us. Haha. I would rather my future children have your experience than mine.

    • says

      Thanks, Linda!! :D (Not gonna lie, I was sooooo excited with the way these photos came out. I was feeling like I was in a bit of a photo funk lately, especially after returning my parents’ place where I love all the lighting and natural settings. But all I did was change the angle from which I take photos — total game changer!) And the honey thyme ice cream was such an awesome base for everything. So delicious.

      I think lemon sneaking sounds like just as much fun as berry picking, if not more so! I loved sneaking into places I didn’t belong when I was little — I definitely would have been a lemon thief too. :)

      • says

        Total game changer! I still can’t get over how PRETTY those blackberries look. And I totally get what you mean about the photo funk. I think that’s why I feel like a bit of a schizophrenic these days. I’ll go for a dark and moody look for one recipe, and then want to go the extreme opposite the next. So much for having a style, huh?

  5. says

    Oh man, am I ever jealous of you guys who get to have fall! Here in CA the seasons are spring, late spring, spring, and early spring. But we do have blackberries growing along the bike path! This ice cream sounds great–tart berry plus tangy goat cheese is such a good combination.

    • says

      Haha! I can only imagine. I always think that I love seasons until the dead of winter or height of summer hits, and then I hate them. :)

  6. says

    I didn’t get into wild berry picking until I was well into my undergrad years, but that didn’t stop me from doing a happy dance when I happened upon a lovely patch of wild strawberries or gooseberries in the northern Wisconsin and Minnesota woods. The blueberry farm I worked on last summer had a very small, but so wonderful post-blueberry huckleberry harvest. Huckleberries! I was obsessed. I’m finding tons of blackberries out at my field sites now (and blueberries, too, of course), and I get distracted from finding the bees when I find a good patch of berries. Oops. Your photos are beautiful, and that ice cream is delightfully swirly.

    • says

      I love love love huckleberries. They’re so tiny and cute! I sometimes shy away from bigger blueberries because I don’t like the meaty texture (probably also the reason I like seedy berries), but I could eat a zillion little huckleberries. It was funny, I went up and checked out the huckleberry bush when I was in NY this summer, and it was strange how small it seemed from what I remember…

  7. says

    Gah! My head is about to explode because of how good this ice cream sounds!! Those photos are GORGEOUS – I can’t get over that electric purple color. Yum!!!

    • says

      Hehe! Thanks, Alanna! Isn’t that color crazy? It’s funny, despite how expensive it was (harumph), my monitor does not handle warm tones like reds and pinks and oranges well at all — making them almost neon on screen when they actually aren’t. I had to keep double checking the edited photos on my iPhone to make sure I got the color as close as I possibly could to what it actually looked like. :)

  8. says

    That is some GORGEOUS ice cream! Love the swirl effect and all those purple hues. Your photographs are so perfect and I’m totally jealous of your lighting skills.

    What you described about berry-picking sounds like me with pretty much all fruit picking. The worst is when you get halfway under something with thorns, like a lemon tree, and then you have to figure out how in the world to get back out AND not drop all your lemons. Yikes!

    • says

      Thank you, Alexandra! I think I finally found the right angle for taking photos with the one lonely window in my living roo…errrr….”studio.” ;)

      Yes! That is exactly it. I’ve never picked lemons before (I didn’t even know the trees had thorns!), but it sounds like I’d love it.

    • says

      Awww, thanks Jen!!! :) I was pretty psyched about the styling when I got everything set up. I give most of the credit to that weird old kitchen cloth I found at a thrift store recently. It adds such nice texture!

  9. says

    This sounds SOOOO tasty. I made a blackberry blue cheese & honey ice cream last summer and man, blackberries and honey go REALLY well with tangy cheeses. Given my obsession with goats in general (so cute!), and my never-ending love of goat cheese, I need to try this ice cream. I am actually making your orange peppercorn one tonight! My friends are throwing me a bridal shower sunday and I’m going to bring it to have at the little ice cream sundae bar we’re setting up, which means I have to wait until Sunday to have a giant bowl of it, but I’ll definitely be eating a spoonful (or several) tonight. Can’t wait!!

    And blackberry picking! Blackberries are both loved and hated in Oregon, they’re the easiest things to grow in the whole state, but they also spread everywhere and have been known to consume acres of property. I, personally, have no issue with this because duh, more berries to eat. We’d pick them when I was small too and man, the ones fresh from the bush taste so much sweeter than the sour ones you get at the grocery store. And if they’re not organic, I never buy them. I bough a non-organic box once and they tasted EXACTLY like hand soap. It was disgusting.

    Blackberry picking reminds me of a time at my older sister’s 12th birthday party when my mom did a scavenger hunt for her and my sister and I were partners, and I guess I was going to slow but she had to hold my hand the whole time ( I was like 5), and we got to the blackberry bushes and she basically just dragged me through them since I couldn’t keep up. Yeah…kind of horrible. But I learned to never hold her hand again, so it all worked out! And it didn’t tarnish my love of blackberries, which speaks for their tastiness.

    Also, have you ever had marionberries? They looks like blackberries except longer and slightly more magenta-y, usually 2-4 inches long, and they have a crazy sweet flavor to them. Like blackberries but with a raspberry hint. I think you’d really love them :) http://localfoods.about.com/od/blackberries/a/About-Marionberries.htm

    • says

      Oh man, blackberry blue cheese honey ice cream sounds SO GOOD. Wow. And yayy! I hope you enjoy the orange peppercorn! :) It’s funny, I’m in a somewhat similar situation, as my good friend Matt is having a birthday party today, and I volunteered to basically turn it into an ice cream social. I’m taking this ice cream (with chocolate and candied ginger bits added), plus those ginger cookie + carrot cake ice cream sandwiches, and a peach-ginger frozen yogurt (which will be served on grilled brioche bread, provided my first attempt at making brioche isn’t a disaster [especially since I decided to infuse the butter with rosemary and thyme and bake it into mini loaves…]). And boozy pops (tequila + mango + lemongrass + ginger beer and French 75). AND coffee cake, because I wanted to do something with the leftover egg whites. So yeah, all of that is in my house at the moment (except this ice cream and the tequila pops, which I took to Matt’s last night because I ran out of freezer space!).

      Isn’t it crazy how blackberry bushes spread?? That semi-secret blackberry patch I mentioned is this enormous hillside that was clear cut in the state land when I was little. After a couple years, blackberry bushes started popping up, and now they cover the entire clearing. It’s almost torture for me, because I can SEE all of those bushes, but I can only really get to the berries on the outskirts. And it’s so true, the fresh ones are head and shoulders above store-bought. I was even skeptical about these when I bought them, because they were so much bigger than what I’m used to picking. But they were organic and I was going to smush them up anyway, so it worked out fine. And oh boy, I cannot imagine being dragged through a blackberry patch as a little kid! Haha, jeeeez. Points to the blackberries for winning for childhood traumas! :)

      And oooOOOoooo, I have never had marionberries, but now I’m dying to try them!! I wonder if we get them out here? I’m going to be on the lookout at the market and the store now, because I need them in my life. STAT.

  10. says

    Just lovely. This ice cream sounds like everything I love in an ice cream all at once. And yeah, to make my own batch I’ll totally be getting some blackberries at the store (points for honestly always.)

  11. says

    I wish I could say my childhood has any of those berry picking summers. It sounds like a perfect way to spending summer. Among berries and ice creams from it! I love berry seeds too! And yes, the photos in this post are exceptional xo

  12. says

    Oh. my. god.

    So basically, in London there’s a cycle path that goes through a load of boroughs along the river Thames. Me and my friend have cycled along a hefty chunk of it a few times (I’m talking a 24 mile round trip, gah) and about halfway through LOADS of blackberry bushes start to appear. The first time, we just picked and ate them straight up because we didn’t have anything to carry them in. We went back though, with like 5 plastic boxes and panniers on our bikes. We had to compete with this rando Italian family who were also on bikes who saw we had stopped to pick the blackberries and DECIDED TO JOIN IN. I just wanted to be like ‘noooo, MY blackberries. Get out.’ Anywho, we filled all the boxes, but literally had no ideas of what to do with them apart from make a pie. BUT NOW, woah, I can make ice cream with them, I’d never thought of that!!

    Also, I am all for loads of photos! They’re so pretty. (and I regularly go overboard with photos myself haha)

    • says

      Haha! It’s so funny how berry picking can totally get out of hand because it puts you in that ALL THE BERRIES mindset. When I was house-sitting for about a month at my parents’ place a couple years ago, I went on a mission to collect as many blackberries as humanly possible. (And then just froze them, because my mom is a smoothie nut and basically packs her freezer full of berries in the summertime.) The first thing I would do when I woke up at like 6am was go out and collect the newly ripened berries along the lawn and driveway, before the birds got to them. I would NOT have appreciated a random family horning in on my berry picking either!

  13. says

    So gorgeous! I saw this on Pinterest and had to come take a look. I love seeing a whole series of photos like these. Each one makes me want to make this more than the previous one.

  14. David says

    This sounds delicious. One problem though – I live in Australia and we don’t use pint measures for berries- could someone give me an approximate weight for the 2 pints please?

  15. says

    I’ve been lucky enough to have berries growing in one yard in my life and nothing was more fun than being able to decide what to make with them once picked. This ice cream recipe would have been tops on our list back then. Now, I’ll settle for store bought berries just like you because I can’t pass this up. Fabulous photos — love that soft glow of light. Truly wonderful.

  16. Bill Abbott says

    Your Ice Cream was featured on the Vermont Butter & Creamery Facebook home page. I followed the link. Your presentation is absolutely excellent. You can feel your passion for the food you make through your images and words.

    I had to leave Vermont and move to Texas. I am glad I am able to still get Vermont products here in Dallas.. I am going to make this, try it and share with my colleagues. at work.

    • says

      Thank you, Bill! I’m so happy to hear you found me through VTB&CC. I had the opportunity to meet a bunch of folks from the Creamery at the pre-party for the VT Cheesemakers Festival, and they were all such wonderful people.

      Glad to hear you are able to get Vermont products all the way out in TX! I travel to NY often to see my family back home, and I’m always excited to find the Vermont products I love there. It’s nice to know they’re available beyond the east coast. :)

  17. says

    Awww..I would totally love another blackberry picking partner…I am going on Thursday with a girlfriend who has never been before. (Sadly we are not driving all the way up to Vermont…although I would if I had the chance) I was thinking about how I wanted to use some more blackberries (because I already made lots of jam from a previous trip) when I remembered seeing your ice cream. I didn’t remember the goat cheese part…oh happy day!!! Now I definitely know what I will be making on Friday! (Your pictures are so gorgeous btw…incredible!!!)

  18. Scot says

    I have read and re-read this page many, many times and if its there, I missed it. I’ve got the milk, cream and thyme steeping right now. I’m assuming I should strain the mixture before I mix in the tempered egg/honey mixture, yes? You don’t just leave it in there, do you?

    • says

      Sorry about that, Scot! (And my apologies for the delayed response [crazy busy weekend], especially since you were in the process of making it!) Yes, the thyme should be strained out before adding it to the eggs. I’ve updated the recipe to note that. Hope it all worked out!

  19. says

    Ooh, this looks so delicious it’s unreal! I’ve been having some sort of goat’s cheese&honey obsession so I’m definitely going to make this.. The berries we’re growing always tend to taste quite bitter though; do you think that’d be okay? Otherwise I might have to cheat a bit as well… ;)

  20. Tad Davis says

    This is quite delicious. The only thing I’d add to the recipe is a more specific measure than “six large sprigs.” My first attempt was “barely thyme”, so I upped the amount the next time. I ended up using about ten two and half inch long sprigs. I suppose it’s a matter of personal taste! Two quarts were polished off instantly at dinner last night. Two quick guests got a third scoop; the rest of us made puppy eyes for another spoonful. Thanks for this!!

    • says

      Glad you enjoyed it, Tad! And I completely agree re: the herb measurement. (It’s a wonky specification, since plants can vary so much in size.) I believe my sprigs were around 4″ long, which makes sense in conjunction with what you used. I’ll add that note to the recipe!

  21. Erin Ahearn says

    I laughed so hard when I read about your BlackBerry picking style…I think we must be related lol! Thanks for the recipe, I can’t wait to try it out!

  22. says

    Slightly late to this brilliant summer party, but this is amazing. Looks creamy and delicious, just as how the ice cream needs to be. Will try making this recipe for sure.

  23. D Chaney says


    I want to thank you for your posts. I came across them first on Pinterest. Thank you so much for posting such beautifully crafted and visually stunning photos. They are such a treat to look at!!!! I will definitely be peeking in on your work and pinning like crazy!!!! Thanks so much again. I hope to learn how to take pics like these some day :)


  24. jacquie says

    this looks wonderful – perhaps I will try an apple or cranberry version since blackberry season is over and I can’t wait until next year.

  25. says

    Carey, you’ll never guess what I got for Christmas! (It starts with I and ends with -ce cream machine.) YES. The first thing I made was a riff on this phenomenal ice cream — I had leftover poached pears, so I used those instead with a honey-goat cheese ice cream base. Oh. My. God. Seriously one of the best things I’ve EVER made. (And factually the best ice cream.) You’ve set the bar really high for future ice creams!

    Also, how fun is ice cream making? When the machine stopped churning I felt touched by Jesus.

    • says

      Yay!!!! I am so honored that a variation of this was the first thing to grace your new machine, and omg — poached pears + honey + goat cheese . . . CRAZY good!

      It sounds like you totally caught the ice cream bug. :D I went bonkers with ice cream making last summer, and I predict much of the same again in 2014! I think it’s actually going to bleed into the colder months too, because I’m already dreaming of wintery flavored ones. (I had a roasted sweet potato + torched marshmallow ice cream from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, and now that’s all I can think about.) Also, roasted beet ice cream! With goat cheese and candied walnuts. Mmmmmmm.

      • says

        Oh my gosh, sweet potato ice cream!! One of my favorite ever flavors of ice cream is this purple yam (ube) ice cream made by a brand in Hawaii. The color is out of this world. I just bet I’d love regular sweet potatoes in ice cream, too.. Especially with MARSHMALLOWS.

        OK, here’s to hoping I ever make anything BUT ice cream ever again… Happy holidays!

  26. Halie Casey says

    This is the first recipe I made from your site…. I made it for our new “dog park” friends… which are now our new besties, partly thanks to your ice cream! I have to admit my swirling skills are to not to be admired, and I ended up mixing it together and putting it back in the ice cream maker. The texture was perfect! and there were even bits of mostly thyme flavor or blackberry/goat cheese. I have now made all the shrubs (amazing as well) and moving on to some other ice creams this weekend from here… carrot cake ice cream maybe? Thank you for your blog, I am originally from VT now living in CA and find your writing, pictures and recipes both refreshing and comforting. Can’t wait to read/try more from you!

    • carey says

      Thank you so much, Halie! Hearing that an ice cream recipe of mine helped to strengthen friendships makes me very happy. :D

  27. Nadja says

    just made this last night! I made a couple changes though. I didn’t have enough to blackberries so I also used blueberries and reduced the amount of sugar by half.
    We also strained just half of the berry sauce because we wanted a bit of texture of the berries.
    This is seriously one of our top 3 favorite homemade ice cream recipes ever!!!!


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