One of my favorite signs of summer are the little pops of purple lavender blossoms dotting California’s landscape.
I have to be honest, I don’t think lavender is all that attractive. What excites me about it is the unexpected flavor it can add to just about any meal. Lavender is delicious as a meat rub, or when sprinkled on roasted potatoes. But hands down, my very favorite culinary use for lavender, is in lavender ice cream.
If you’ve never tried lavender ice cream before, it’s time to change that, pronto. This delicious after-dinner sweet treat has become a favorite in my house this summer. And why is ice cream considered a “Recipe for Gorgeousness,” you may ask? Well, lavender promotes restful sleep, so you can kiss those puffs and dark circles good-bye! Yes, I know it’s a stretch, but I never hear any complaints when the hubs treats himself to seconds before bedtime.
Making lavender ice cream is definitely a process, but well-worth the effort. You can use dried culinary lavender- I buy mine at Cost Plus because it’s the best value I’ve found ($1.99 for .25 oz), or you can dry your own lavender, as long as it’s pesticide-free. The ice cream also requires an ice cream-maker, and an air -tight (VERY important for creamy, not “slushy”-like ice cream), freezer-safe container. Give this recipe a try, and I bet you, too, will discover a new fav!
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- Table salt
- 2 Tbs. dried lavender flowers
- 5 large egg yolks
- 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- In a medium saucepan, mix 1 cup of the cream with the milk, sugar, and a pinch of salt
- Warm the cream mixture over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and tiny bubbles begin to form around the edge of the pan, 3 to 4 minutes.
- Stir in the lavender. Cover, remove from the heat, and let sit for 1 hour. Taste and let sit longer if you want a stronger flavor.
- Prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl with several inches of ice water. Set a smaller metal bowl (one that holds at least 1-1/2 quarts) in the ice water. Pour the remaining cup of cream into the inner bowl (this helps the custard cool quicker when you pour it in later). Set a fine strainer on top.
- Whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl.
- Rewarm the cream mixture over medium-high heat until tiny bubbles begin to form around the edge of the pan, 1 to 2 minutes.
- In a steady stream, pour half of the warm cream mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly to prevent the eggs from curdling.
- Pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heatproof rubber spatula until the custard thickens slightly (it should be thick enough to coat the spatula and hold a line drawn through it with a finger), 4 to 8 minutes. An instant-read thermometer should read 175° to 180°F at this point. Don’t let the sauce overheat or boil, or it will curdle.
- Immediately strain the custard into the cold cream in the ice bath. Press firmly on the lavender in the strainer with the spatula to extract as much flavor as possible.
- Cool the custard to below 70°F by stirring it over the ice bath. Stir the vanilla extract into the cooled custard.
- Refrigerate the custard until completely chilled, at least 4 hours. Then freeze the custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Transfer the just-churned ice cream to an air-tight container, and freeze for at least 4 hours or up to 2 weeks.