Thursday, March 10, 2016

Honey I'm in Love with Lavender

I'm not sure when it happened, but it happened. It hit me with a fervor I can't even begin to describe. The calm and soothing aroma of lavender filled my nose and wrapped me in a blanket of peace and happiness. But it didn't stop there. As soon as that delicate flavor danced across the tip of my tongue, it invaded mind. There it was--I had fallen in love. It developed into somewhat of an obsession, really. I became drawn towards anything and everything that had even the slightest hint of lavender. Just a touch of that floral note and I was sold. From chocolate lavender ice cream to lemon lavender short bread to lavender tea, I could not get enough. My latest discovery was honey lavender ice cream from Carmela, a tiny little ice cream shop in Pasadena. There on a belated Valentine's Day date with my (other) love, I was ecstatic to find that they offered this wonderful flavor and needless to say, I knew it was going to be my next project. 

This custard based ice cream recipe uses primarily honey rather than just sugar in its base, resulting in a softer ice cream with absolutely perfect complementing flavors. Although it probably would have been wonderful with the lavender and honey alone, I decided to add just a touch of vanilla bean paste, one of my newer acquisitions. The vanilla really brings out the lavender without making it overpowering as lavender can often be. But if you are not a vanilla fan, feel free to omit this. 

Honey Lavender Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Cooking time: 40 minutes
Total time: (including freezing time) 24 hours
Yield: 1 quart

1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup honey
3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1/4 cup dried lavender
1/8 tsp salt
4 egg yolks

1) Heat milk, cream, honey, sugar, vanilla, lavender, and salt over medium heat until mixture boils. Be sure to stir occasionally so cream does not burn. Once mixture boils, turn off heat and let the lavender steep in the cream for 30 minutes. 
2) Strain mixture and discard lavender flowers
3) In a separate bowl whisk egg yolks. While whisking, pour in cream. Stir until mixed
4) Heat cream and egg mixture over low to medium heat stirring constantly until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (about 170F). Do not let mixture boil.
5) Pour custard through a mesh sieve into a bowl and and stir over an ice bath until cool
6) Refrigerate overnight
7) Freeze custard in an ice cream maker according to machine instructions (about 20-30 minutes until custard is the consistency of frozen yogurt)
8) Transfer to a freezer safe container and freeze until firm (at least 6 hours) 

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