I know, I know..... it's nearly December and the wrong time of year for ice cream but as I perused the garden yesterday there were still a couple of dozen lavender heads resiliently hanging on and I thought that this would be a lovely one to pop in the freezer and have with warm mince pies over Christmas. Lavender Honey Ice Cream is simply delicious. It is just like eating a sultry summer's day- fragrant and heady. Try and use English lavender rather than French because the latter has a much higher camphor level and is therefore more astringent and harsher. English lavender is regarded as superior for culinary purposes with a softer sweeter flavour. You can substitute with dried lavender but the flavour is just not the same. We like all our recipes to be as natural and organic as possible but if you'd like your lavender honey ice cream to have a lavender hue then just add a very small quantity of a mixture of red and blue natural food colouring. Mix on the edge of a saucer first to get a natural looking shade.
475 mls of full fat milk 6/8 sprigs of fresh organic culinary lavender (you can buy it from us) 70 ml of runny honey (use a really good quality one - you will taste the difference) 5 large egg yolks 60 grms of caster sugar 240 mls of double cream 1/8 pod of vanilla with the seeds scraped out. 1 teaspoon of honey and 1 sprig of lavender to garnish. In a heavy bottom saucepan, combine the milk, vanilla and the honey. Drop in six sprigs of the lavender and bring to a very gentle boil. Then remove from the stove and allow to cool down for about 10 minutes. Taste it to see how strong the lavender flavour is. Remember that when the ice cream is frozen the flavour will be reduced quite considerably so it need to be reasonably strong at this point. If the flavour is very subtle then you might need to add the extra couple of sprigs of lavender and bring the whole lot back to the boil - gently - again. Once you are happy with the flavour then fish out the fresh lavender. In a bowl whisk the sugar and egg yolks until the mixture is pale and creamy in colour. Gradually stir the mixture into the milk/honey combination in the pan and cook over a gentle heat, continuously stirring, until the custard mixture is thick enough to coat the back of your wooden spoon. Take off the heat and stir in the double cream. Allow to cool and strain the mixture through a sieve before adding to an ice cream machine. If you don't have an ice cream maker then pour into a tupperwear container and pop into the freezer. Every couple of hours remove from the freezer and thoroughly stir to prevent ice crystals forming. As with most homemade ice creams you might need to take it out of the fridge to allow it to soften a little before serving. Serve with a drizzle of honey and lavender flowers. This makes just under a litre of ice cream.