French lavender is the best varietal to use for cooking, as it lends a delightful aromatic perfume with an intriguingly haunting overtone. And this dish is no exception. The lovely, light lavender flavor is perfect for hot summer days. Other lavender species, on the other hand, can have a more medicinal taste.
French lavender can be found at specialty stores, many farmers’ markets, and organic grocers. For this recipe, use either the fresh or dried blossoms, stripped from the stem. Also, honey liqueur, which can be purchased at quality liquor stores, is a perfect complement and creates a softer texture than actual honey.–Lou Seibert Pappas
Lavender Honey Ice Cream
- Ice cream maker
- 2 cups half-and-half or milk
- 3 tablespoons fresh or dried lavender blossoms
- 3 large egg yolks
- 2/3 cup honey
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 to 3 tablespoons honey liqueur (optional)
- Prepare a large bowl or pan of ice water.
- In the top of a double boiler, heat the half-and-half and lavender over simmering water until steaming. Remove from the heat and steep for 10 minutes.
- In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks until blended, then whisk in the honey. Whisk in about half of the hot half-and-half and pour the yolk mixture into the pan of half-and-half. Stir and cook over simmering water until the custard coats the back of a silicone spatula or spoon, about 10 minutes. Immediately place the custard pan in the ice bath and stir the custard occasionally until it cools to room temperature. Strain the custard into a container and discard the lavender. Stir in the cream, cover, and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, about 3 hours.
- Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. When the ice cream is almost frozen, spoon in the honey liqueur, if desired, and churn until blended in, about 1 minute more. Transfer to a container, cover, and freeze until firm, about 2 hours.
Originally published April 27, 2007