The real charm of this dessert lies in using fresh lavender flowers, but dried will still make an aromatic ice cream. Be sure to use Lavandula angustifolia—not all lavender species are suitable for cooking. From the Olive Harvest Cookbook by Gerald Gass this lavender ice cream makes 1 1/2 quarts.
1 tablespoon fresh lavender flowers* (Lavandula angustifolia)or 1 ½ tablespoons dried lavender flowers
3 lemon zest strips, each about 2 inches long
3 cups half and half
1 cup heavy cream
8 large egg yolks
¾ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
In a 2-quart saucepan, combine the lavender, lemon zest, half-and-half, and cream and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring often. Remove from the heat, cover and leave to infuse for 1 hour.
In a bowl, combine the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla and whisk until pale and thick, about 2 minutes. Uncover the lavender-cream infusion, return to the stove top, and bring back to a simmer. Whisk ½ cup of the hot cream mixture into the yolk-sugar mixture and, while whisking constantly, pour it all back into cream mixture. Continue cooking over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the custard thickens enough to coat a wooden spoon or registers 185˚F on an instant-read thermometer, 3 to 4 minutes. Do not allow the custard to boil or it will curdle. Remove from the heat and immediately pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean bowl. Place the bowl in a larger bowl of ice water and allow to chill thoroughly, stirring occasionally. Stir in the lemon juice, cover, and refridgerate until ready to freeze.
Pour the chilled custard into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
*fresh, organic culinary lavender from our ranch is sold by the bunch in summer months at our San Francisco Ferry Building shop; call 415-291-7224 for current availability