Earl Grey Ice Cream with Chocolate Toffee and Shortbread Crumble

 If you love nibbling on buttery shortbread cookies with a cup of tea, give this showstopping ice cream a try. It's flavored with Earl Grey tea and vanilla bean. The crushed shortbread and pieces of chocolate-covered toffee take it to the next level, creating a dessert we felt was "absolutely divine" during testing. Make sure to strain the custard base before chilling it, so you can catch any stray bits of egg or tea leaves. To give this ice cream extra pizazz, sprinkle it with a bit of flaky sea salt before serving. You can also enjoy Earl Grey-toffee vibes in this recipe for Sticky Toffee and Earl Grey Pudding from chef Merlin Labron-Johnson.

Earl Grey Ice Cream with Chocolate Toffee
Photo: Photo by Fred Hardy II / Food Styling by Ruth Blackburn / Prop Styling by Christina Brockman
Active Time:
20 mins
Chill Time:
4 hrs
Freeze Time:
4 hrs
Total Time:
8 hrs 55 mins


  • 1 vanilla bean pod, halved lengthwise

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream

  • 1 cup whole milk

  • 6 single-serving Earl Grey tea bags

  • cup granulated sugar, divided

  • 6 large egg yolks

  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

  • ¾ cup chopped chocolate-covered toffee candy bars (from 2 [3-ounce] bars) (such as Heath) or toffee bits (from 1 [8-ounce] package) (such as Bits of Brickle), divided

  • ¾ cup crushed pure butter shortbread cookies (from 1 [5.3-ounce] package), divided, plus more for serving


  1. Scrape out seeds from vanilla bean pod with the back of a paring knife; place seeds and vanilla bean pod in a medium saucepan. Stir in cream, milk, tea bags, and 1/3 cup of the sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium. Remove saucepan from heat, stirring mixture once; cover and steep for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove and discard vanilla bean pod and tea bags. Return milk mixture to a simmer over medium.

  2. Whisk together egg yolks, salt, and remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a medium bowl until combined. Gradually add 1 cup warm milk mixture to egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Whisk egg yolk mixture into remaining warm milk mixture in saucepan. Cook over medium, whisking constantly, until a custard forms on a spoon and a finger swiped across back of spoon leaves a clean line, or until custard reaches 170°F, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat.

  3. Fill a large bowl with ice water. Pour custard through a fine-mesh strainer into an airtight container. Cover container, and place in a large bowl with ice water; let chill until temperature drops to 40°F, about 4 hours. Alternatively, cover container, and place in refrigerator for 12 hours. 4. Transfer chilled mixture to an ice cream machine; freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. Transfer ice cream to an airtight container, and stir in 1/2 cup each of the toffee and crushed cookies. Top ice cream evenly with remaining 1/4 cup each toffee and crushed cookies. Freeze until firm, about 4 hours. Store ice cream in airtight container in freezer up to 2 weeks. Serve with additional crushed cookies.

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