Lavender ice cream

A few months ago, I impulse-purchased an ice cream machine (as if there’s any other way to buy an ice cream machine). It wasn’t an impulse purchase in the sense that I just decided to buy it on the spot, but more that I managed to convince myself over the course of about five days that this was something I needed in my life and, after looking at lots of online reviews, finally bought one on Amazon. Sadly, I’ve only actually used it once up until now (to make lemon and elderflower sorbet).

I think the idea when you own an ice cream machine is to try out lots of weird and wonderful flavours because, let’s face it, if you want vanilla or mint choc chip then you may as well nip to Sainsbury’s and buy a decent tub of it instead of faffing around waiting for it to churn at home. With this in mind, I borrowed this book from the library the other day:

This is the official book released by The Icecreamists, who sell ice cream from their base in Covent Garden. They’re the ones who ‘controversially’ sold breast milk ice cream under the name of ‘Baby Gaga’ and incurred the wrath of Lady Gaga as a result. (Personally, I’d have called it ‘Simply the Breast’, but I suppose that would risk pissing off Tina Turner and nobody needs that kind of hassle.)

This book is worth getting your hands on even if it’s just for the photography alone- it’s like ice cream porn. It’s also got lots of interesting ideas for flavours with catchy names such as ‘Doughnut Stop Believin’ (jammy doughnut), Glastonberry (seasonal berries) and ‘Lenin and Lime’ (gin and tonic). I chose to try their lavender ice cream first as I’ve wanted to make lavender ice cream for a while. We also happen to have a lavender farm in Kent called Castle Farm, so I thought this would be a good opportunity to use some local produce and support a local business. They have an online shop as well as a farm shop, and I ordered some lavender essence as well as some nice ‘sleepy’ lavender tea. I would have bought the lavender honey from here as well, but they only sell it in the actual farm shop and I haven’t had chance to visit in person yet- I may wait until next summer and do a proper tour of the farm (which I know sounds really boring to most people but I love a bit of that kind of thing). Besides, I can get lavender honey in Sainsbury’s so it’s not the end of the world. The Sainsbury’s lavender honey comes from Spain though, so there goes any sense of smugness I originally had about buying local. Also, my desire to make my ice cream look all posh and inviting in the photos led me to buy some culinary lavender to scatter over the top of it. While this came from a local health food shop, the lavender itself came from the Cotswolds, so again, not as locally sourced as it could be. Never mind…

So here’s the recipe, adapted slightly from the one in The Icecreamists’ book:

Ingredients

  • 250ml full fat milk (And I definitely mean full fat)
  • 125ml double cream
  • 2 egg yolks, from fresh, free range eggs (you can freeze the whites to be used in something else)
  • 88g caster sugar
  • Four drops of lavender essence
  • 1 tablespoonful of lavender honey
  • Purple food colouring (optional- I didn’t bother)

Put the milk and cream in a pan and heat very gently on a low heat until it’s just starting to steam, but not boil. Take off the heat and set aside.

In a bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugar together until they’re pale and fluffy. Very gradually add the warm cream/ milk mixture, whisking as constantly as you can to stop the eggs scrambling. I’d say it would be best to make sure your eggs are at room temperature before you start, but mine came straight from the fridge on this occasion and they were okay. Perhaps I was just lucky though.

Add the mixture back to the pan and put on a low heat again (without allowing it to boil). Add the lavender essence, honey and food colouring (if using) and stir until dissolved. I found that where I’d been whisking the mixture, it had frothed up on the top a bit. I’m not sure how to avoid this, but I skimmed the froth off with a spoon and carried on from there. Once you’ve turned off the heat, put the mixture in a bowl and cover with cling film. When the mixture has cooled sufficiently, put it in the fridge until thoroughly chilled.

When your mixture is chilled, put it in your ice cream maker and churn according to the instructions. I have one of these Kenwood ones and I keep the bowl in the freezer so it’s ready whenever I want to make ice cream (which I’ve promised myself I will do more often). This ice cream took about 25-30 minutes to churn. If you don’t have an ice cream machine, put the mixture in a tub and freeze. About once an hour or so, churn the mixture with a spatula to remove any ice crystals.

Once the ice cream is looking smooth and ice cream-y and looks like it has increased in size, scrape it into a tub with a lid and pop it in the freezer for a few hours. Take it out of the freezer a few minutes before you want to serve it so that it’s a good scooping consistency. Decorate with lavender flowers if you’re that way inclined (I was).

The verdict

I was actually really pleased with how this turned out. I was a bit concerned that I’d end up with something that either tasted like the inside of an old lady’s knicker drawer or of nothing at all. However, the four drops of lavender essence and spoonful of honey seemed to give just the right hint of lavender flavour without being overwhelming. This was nice as it was, but I think it would also be nice with some lavender honey or melted dark bitter chocolate drizzled over it.

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