11 July 2011

Land of Frozen Milk & Honey

We're in the midst of the dog days now, my least favourite time of year, and man are we feeling it. The cats lie listlessly from sunup to sundown; the neighbourhood joggers have all but disappeared; plants droop pathetically; the fans in the house run 24/7 (still no AC for us); drinks sweat more than a chef competing in a Food Network challenge...you get the idea. The good thing is it's the perfect time for ice cream! And what's more satisfying than making your own? Click photos to enlarge.

There's something strangely wholesome about the ingredients for this recipe (except the cookies, which I only resorted to buying because there's no way I'm turning on the oven in this weather!)

Steeping the lavender in milk and honey. The kitchen smelled amazing:

You don't have to strain out the flowers but dried lavender blooms can look a little disconcerting (read: not unlike bugs) in food:

Getting ready to mix the egg yolks and sugar (hint: you can freeze excess egg whites in ice cube trays for use in other recipes later):

Action shot as the mixer does its thing:

Mixed until pale and thickened:

The lavender milk and the egg yolk mixture get simmered until it coats the back of a wooden spoon. But I didn't see much of a difference between the beginning of the process...

...and when I finally took it off the heat. The liquid on the spoon was slightly less watery and more clingy. I don't know if I took it off the heat too soon but the recipe was vague and I didn't want to accidentally make pudding.

I tried to get some shots of the ice cream being made. This is still the liquid stage:

And here it is thickened and looking a lot more like ice cream. I let the machine work for about 40 minutes:

Ready at last, served with a couple of lemon cookies and a sprig of lavender from my garden! It was amazing how fast it melted, though--makes you wonder what they do to the commercial stuff...

Honey Lavender Ice Cream

Makes about 1 quart

[My notes/changes in brackets]
  • 2 cups whole [homogenized, in Canada] milk
  • 1/4 cup dried [organic] lavender
  • 1/3 cup honey [get the good stuff]
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup heavy [aka whipping] cream
In a medium saucepan, combine milk, lavender, and honey. Bring to a gentle boil, cover, and remove from heat. Let steep for 5 minutes. Strain mixture, reserving milk and discarding lavender.

Combine egg yolks and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium-high speed until very thick and pale yellow, 3 to 5 minutes. Meanwhile, return milk to a medium saucepan, and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat.

Add half the milk to egg-yolk mixture, and whisk until blended. Stir mixture into remaining milk, and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.

Remove from heat, and immediately stir in cream. Strain mixture into a medium mixing bowl set in an ice-water bath, and let stand until chilled [skip the ice water bath and just stick the bowl in the fridge], stirring from time to time. Freeze in an ice-cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. Store in an airtight plastic container up to 2 weeks.

Original recipe here [and no, I didn't see their photo until after I'd taken my own!]

My Verdict

The ice cream is sweet and delicately flavoured (although it's a little too sweet for me and not quite delicate enough for my SO, who found the lavender too strong--although he also added that it wouldn't stop him from eating it). You can work with the recipe so try experimenting (more/less sugar/honey, shorter/longer steeping time, replacing lavender with another flavour...) to get it exactly the way you want it. That said, this was a lot of work, expense (cream isn't cheap) and dirty dishes. And you need an ice cream maker. While I would make this again I have come to the conclusion that I'll only be making ice cream that I can't find commercially (in other words, unusual flavours and combinations). It's just not worth the effort to make my own vanilla (for example) when I can just run down the street and buy high-quality ice cream for less than it would cost to make. It is satisfying and fun to make your own...but only to a point.

Want to see what else I've made for my 2011 baking project?

January: Double-Chocolate Brownies
February: Angel Food Cake with Raspberry Sauce
March: Chewy Chocolate-Gingerbread Cookies
April: Raspberry-Swirl Cheesecake
June: Cake Doughnuts
June: Espresso Yourself

Photos by Domicile

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