Cool Lavender

Lavender, lavender, lavender, oh lavender what splendid flavor you bring to the kitchen. What fun we are having with our lavender this summer! We have been on such a lavender kick. I think we have truly fallen in love with this herb. Our lemonade obsession has been as strong as that heat wave hitting us in these parts. For as much as I can't get enough of that lovely drink we have been in need of a new form of lavender love. We sampled something new earlier this summer. Something I have never tasted; Lavender ice cream. Sounds delightful. It was delightful.

After our visit to the lavender farm we had lunch at the Manor House at the Poplar Springs Inn. Being lavender season they featured several items on the menu with lavender. Lunch was wonderful. That Manor House is a beautiful place. I foresee another girls day out in my future. The desserts were tops for us to try, just reading the menu was enough to get us excited for the treats. (My lavender creme brulee was divine.) The girls devoured their little lavender ice cream sandwiches leaving little for me to sample. I thought the ice cream was nice, nothing significant, but I was slurping up leftovers. I can only imagine my impression if I had been able to take a good sample. That little visit lingered in the back of my mind. It was a very enjoyable place to dine. Quiet, relaxing, delectable food. Everything a nice luncheon should be.

As the lavender season has come to a close I have been working on collecting our lavender buds from the garden. With baskets of lavender drying all over it is difficult to not think about lavender. It has been on our minds every time we catch a breath of its fragrance. Sampling those fantastic lavender foods made such an impression on us all. Leah has been raving about that ice cream. It must be something for Leah to describe it so often. With her constantly reminding me about how fantastic that ice cream was I decided it was time to make our own.

Something is one way to describe that ice cream. I prefer to liken it to an indulgence that is phenomenal. I hoped it would be good. I did not expect it to be so delectable. I daresay that this batch of ice cream has no hope of lasting but a day in this house. The pleasant perfume of lavender just complements the creamy flavor of milk so magically. Really it is something you must try. Thank goodness for our ice cream machine. Ok, ok, ok, I'll quit with the carrying on about the wonderful flavor of this ice cream. I'm sure you are already thinking about getting some of your own. Believe me one bite will convince you indeed. Oh, I do wish you could just sample this treat.

I began our experiment with a standard small batch of a custard based ice cream in the quantity of 1 quart. Our machine can make up to 5 quarts but I hardly make that much at one time. Our machine works better in 1-2 quart batches. The ice cream firms up faster and is less messy. After our initial experimental batch I have tweaked and perfected our recipe.

Garden Lavender Ice Cream

4 cups milk
1 1/3 cups heavy cream

3 Tablespoons dried culinary lavender buds*
6 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

Place the egg yolks into a medium sized  mixing bowl.

Beat the egg yolks until thick and smooth.

Gradually add the sugar to the eggs.

Whisk the eggs and sugar until the mixture becomes thick like a cake batter, set aside.

Pour the milk and cream into a medium sized saucepan. Add your lavender and stir. Cook the lavender mixture on medium-high heat until the cream becomes frothy. Remove cream from heat.

Place a strainer over a large bowl and strain the lavender buds out of the cream. Discard the used lavender. 

Reserve 1 cup of the hot lavender cream, set aside the remaining portion.

To temper the eggs you will slowly add a small amount of the reserved hot lavender cream to the mixing bowl. Quickly whisk until the egg mixture thins. Gently add more hot lavender cream keeping the mixture moving (to prevent scrambling the yolks) around the bowl. If your yolks begin to scramble don't panic this happens to everyone. It is easy to fix. Stop. Get that strainer out and strain the egg mixture. All of the scrambled yolk bits will be removed by the strainer and you can finish tempering the mixture. See, no problem.

Once you have tempered the egg mixture combine it with the remaining hot lavender cream. Whisk to combine. Pour the lavender ice cream mixture into an airtight container and chill in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours.

Pour the chilled ice cream mixture into your ice cream machine and follow the manufacturer's instructions. This recipe will make 2 quarts of ice cream. We have been enjoying this fantastic ice cream. The flavor is wonderful; A perfect blend of casual and elegant. Serving this would certainly be a crowd pleaser. A lovely bit of summer for dessert.

*Use French (culinary) lavenders only. Non-French lavenders have too much camphor and will render an intense and bitter flavor.


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