If like me you have a surfeit of lavender blooms this year and don’t know what to do with them, why not have a go at eating them. Lavender has a lovely delicate flavour and can be used to flavour all sorts of dishes including chicken and cakes, but my favourite is to use it to make ice cream. It creates a lovely delicate twist on ice cream that makes a really special dessert.
- 3 heads of fresh lavender (or a scant 2 teaspoons of dried flowers)
- 300ml whole milk
- 3 medium egg yolks
- ¼ teaspoon of vanilla essence
- 150g of mild runny honey
- 250ml of chilled double cream
- Chop the lavender into 1 cm pieces using either a knife or scissors. Place in a heavy-bottomed saucepan together with the milk and vanilla essence and allow to infuse. Heat until just below boiling, then remove from the heat and cool.
- Taste after 10 minutes. You want the flavour to be distinct but not remotely bitter. If it’s not strong enough, leave for another 5-10 minutes (If you want a stronger flavour you can leave the mixture in the fridge overnight).
- Pour the milk mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl and discard the lavender.
- Return the milk to the cleaned saucepan and heat over a moderate heat until hot.
- Whisk together the eggs and honey in a large bowl, then add 1 cup of the hot milk mixture in a slow stream, whisking.
- Pour in the remaining hot milk mixture to the saucepan and cook over a moderately low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until it’s thick enough to coat the back of the spoon – usually about 5 minutes (don’t let it boil) to create a custard mix.
- Leave the custard mix to cool
- Once cool, stir the double cream into the custard. At this point you can either transfer the mix to an ice-cream maker and follow the manufacturers instructions. Or if you don’t have one, lightly whip the cream and fold it into the custard. Pour into a shallow container, freeze for about 20 minutes and then stir. Repeat the process three more times, or until the ice cream is set.
This ice cream is best eaten fresh, but can be stored in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.