Lavender Honey Ice Cream

I neglected to mention that because each share of last night's apricot tart was so small, we served it with a scoop of homemade lavender honey ice cream:


This is thanks to my anniversary present, this kick-ass ice cream maker:


After whipping up a batch of vanilla, we were ready to try putting some of our garden produce to work as a dessert. And the first one was lavender, of which we picked a bowlful in no time:


This actually turned out to be more than I needed for the ice cream, but lavender has lots of other purposes and dries nicely to save and use later. 

We struck out on our own a bit with this recipe, since we are from Pennsylvania. We wanted a recipe that was "Philadelphia Style," which means no eggs. That's like the difference between the bright white of Breyer's vanilla and a yellow French vanilla you might get in a restaurant. Eggy ice creams take too long to make, and they taste like eggs. So no thanks.

Anyway, most recipes I found had somewhere between four and eight egg yolks in it, so we ended up making up our own. Here's how it went:

2 1/2 cups milk
4 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups half and half
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup lavender flowers (edible, not from potpourri or something weird like that)
1 cup honey
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt

Heat the milk in a pan with the lavender until it starts to bubble around the edges, then remove it from heat (this is called scalding the milk). Add honey, sugar, and salt to the warm milk and stir until it dissolves. Stir in the rest of the ingredients and chill it all in the fridge.

I covered it and let it steep for a couple hours in the refrigerator, but 30 minutes would probably be fine. Also, in the future I would use all honey to replace that bit of sugar, which I only added because I ran out of honey. The honey flavor is really, really nice, and I want more of it.

When the mixture is chilled and you're satisfied with how lavender-y it all smells from steeping, strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve and into the metal canister that comes with the ice cream maker. I think some people leave bits of flowers in, but I think that would end up being a gross thing to chew on in the middle of your creamy ice cream. Fresh lavender might make a pretty garnish, though.

Then make the ice cream according to the directions on the machine and freeze it over night. I have a nice, big ice cream maker, and this recipe makes just about a gallon of it. That's a lot, since you'll probably only eat a scoop of this at a time. You can cut the recipe in half if you need to.

How to describe the flavor? You can taste the honey, which is rich and different in ice cream. The lavender is a little pine-y, maybe a bit astringent, and it cuts through the creaminess and sweetness of the ice cream — it's quite refreshing. It's a strong, unique flavor, so just a single scoop will probably do. It would be a great side to other fruit or berry desserts instead of just vanilla, which everyone expects. 

We are three of four tasters in favor of lavender honey ice cream here. The dissenter is an 8-year-old boy with a flair for the dramatic who said it tasted like "poison flowers." The rest of us recommend it!

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