Lavender is one of my favorite flowers. The scent is calming and soothing, sweet and gentle. A few years ago I had the opportunity to tour a lavender farm in Maui and it was an enlightening and relaxing experience. The Alii Kula Lavender Farm grows several different types of lavender, providing the dried blossoms to local chefs and store owners as well as distant customers (you can order online). I toured the farm, hopping merrily among the bushes and taking in the intoxicating smell, watching the workers pick and dry the flowers. I tried some lavender tea and ate a lavender scone. To remind me of the experience, I brought home some delicately scented lavender lotion and lavender potpourri for the moms. Whenever I make it back to Maui, I will definitely be back.
See the lavender bushes in the background?
The trip to the lavender farm opened my eyes (and stomach) to the possibility of eating lavender. For some reason I never tried lavender in food, and ever since I have been eating the stuff whenever I can get it. Lavender chocolates are my favorite. I have tried a couple different lavender ice creams, but most end up tasting more like fruit than flowers. I decided to try my own version, with the intent of helping the lavender shine. I added honey for sweetness and more depth of flavor. One bite and you will be hit with the intensity of lavender. Mmmmm....relaxing. Enjoy!
Edible lavender is available at specialty spice stores and most well-stocked grocery stores. I found mine at World Market (if they are in your area). I imagine this ice cream would be even better with some Maui grown lavender, if you can find it.
2 cups (500 ml) whole milk
1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon (11 g) cornstarch
3 Tablespoon (1.5 oz, 44 g) cream cheese, softened
1 ¼ cups (313 ml) heavy cream
1 Tablespoon dried lavender
2/3 cup honey (158 ml)
1/8 cup corn syrup (30 ml)
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Fill a large bowl with ice water. In a small bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch. In another large bowl, whisk the cream cheese until smooth. Set a fine mesh sieve over the bowl and set aside.
In a large saucepan, combine the remaining milk with the heavy cream, lavender, honey and corn syrup. Bring the milk mixture to a boil and cook over moderate heat until the sugar dissolves, about 4 minutes. Off the heat, gradually whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Return to a boil and cook over moderately high heat until the mixture is slightly thickened, about 1 minute.
Gradually pour the hot milk mixture (through the sieve) into the cream cheese and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the vanilla extract and salt. Set the bowl in the ice water bath and let stand, stirring occasionally, until cool, about 20 minutes.
Chill the mixture thoroughly (at least 4 hours or overnight). Once chilled, pour into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Place plastic or parchment over ice cream (to prevent ice crystals) and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.