A walk through the greenmarket these days is a feast for the senses — wooden pallets overflowing with crisp snap peas and the first of summer’s sweet corn, piles of rhubarb and cherries, fragrant trays of seedlings for the planting, fresh bread, ostrich eggs the size of one’s head, jars of golden honey, brightly color flowers, and lavender. So much lavender.
So much lavender, we just had to bring home a bunch. And once home, in our toasty third floor apartment in the middle of a Brooklyn heat wave, we just had to make ice cream.
We’ve had our eye on honey lavender ice cream for some time, having first noticed it as the dessert on Alice Water’s summer menu in her Chez Panisse Cookbook. Recipes for honey lavender ice cream also appear in David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop, and Lindsey Shere’s Chez Panisse Desserts. Interestingly, the recipes vary significantly, calling for different amounts of honey and lavender, and different infusion times, for the same amount of dairy. We went with a combination, tasting along the way.
Honey and lavender: a quintessential summer pairing. This ice cream is unique and evocative, the honey almost smokey, the lavender soothing. It tastes of a wildflowers and sunlight and picnics in the countryside. Summer in a bowl.
Note! This ice cream is quite soft on account of the honey. A day in the freezer post-churning helps.
honey lavender ice cream
(makes about a quart)
Scant 3/4 cup honey
4-5 sprigs fresh or dried lavender (blossoms only), about 8 grams
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
6 egg yolks
1. Bring the honey and lavender blossoms to boil in a non-corroding pan, stirring to coat the blossoms. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for thirty minutes.
2. Whisk the egg yolks until they are just broken up. Gently heat the heavy cream and whole milk. Whisk some of the warmed milk into the egg yolks, to temper them, then pour the eggs back into the pot. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly in a figure 8 pattern, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. This will take 5 – 7 minutes. A good way to test if it’s done is to draw your finger across the spatula – it should leave a clear mark, which indicates the custard is thickened and ready.
3. Strain custard into a bowl set over an ice bath.
4. Remove the lavender blossoms from the honey. Mix the honey into the custard, and stir until chilled.
5. Chill custard thoroughly in the fridge, preferably overnight, and then freeze in your ice cream maker.