Monday, June 11, 2018

Lavender Honey Ice Cream and Perfect Summer Desserts

The first time I drove over the mountains from Tennessee to Asheville, North Carolina it felt like I'd come home.  It was more like what I'd left behind in California than anything I'd experienced in Mississippi or Tennessee.  Quirky, funky, foodie-filled, artsy.

Very Nora.

I could take a deep, mountain air-filled breath and feel my whole body relax in that same way it does when you slip into your pj pants and collapse on the couch at the end of the day.
It felt comfortable.

My husband and I quickly made it our weekend getaway destination when we had a day or two away from the kids.  We wandered the meandering aisles and cozy spaces of Battery Park Book Exchange, we followed very Nora-ish type lunches with grown-up beverages and giddily strolled the art at Woolworth Walk and scooped up fun hats and silly jewelry from cute stores.

Ok...all of that was definitely me enjoying Asheville, but my husband was generally a good sport about tagging along on my adventures as long as there was the promise of good food and adult beverages.

On one of our trips I discovered The Gourmet Chip Company- and The Napa.
Freshly fried house-made  kettle style potato chips with a lavender honey drizzle, creamy bleu cheese crumbles, and sea salt.

How could I not order that, right?
It was that afternoon that my love affair with culinary lavender began.

I order it pretty much every chance I get.  I don't cook with it often (for what reason, I have no idea...) but I've used it in both lemon cookies and lemon bars with delicious results.

With the ice cream season upon us my ice cream obsession has been ramping up again.
The ice cream maker bowl is once again living in my freezer, a carton of cream has taken up residence in my fridge, and I have an ever-growing list of ice cream recipes I can't wait to try.  I may have even ordered these plastic containers to store my expanding collection of different flavors in the freezer.

Last week, as I was perusing my list of potential ice cream ventures, I told my husband that the one I really wanted to try was the Lavender Honey ice cream recipe but that I wasn't going to because he wouldn't eat it and I couldn't eat it by myself.

Weirdly, totally unexpectedly, he told me he'd LOVE the Lavender Honey ice cream and I needed to make it STAT.

I never in a million years thought I'd hear him say something like that.
Totally unexpected- and I did not waste a second making that ice cream before he could come to his senses!

Let me just tell you, this ice cream has the most perfect, amazing consistency in the world.
It's smooth and creamy.  Even after going in the freezer it's just firm enough and amazing.

The flavor?  You get the honey.  You get the lavender.  It's all subtle and prominent somehow simultaneously.

I'm in love.
And you will be too.

2 C heavy whipping cream
1 C half-and-half
2/3 C honey
2 Tbsp dried lavender flowers
2 eggs
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Heat heavy cream, half-and-half, honey, and lavender flowers in a heavy 2-quart saucepan, stirring occasionally, until cream just starts to bubble. Remove from heat and cover; let steep for 30 minutes.

2. Strain cream mixture into a bowl using a fine-mesh sieve. Discard lavender flowers. Clean saucepan and pour strained cream mixture back in. Heat over medium heat until hot, about 5 minutes.

3. Whisk eggs and salt together in a bowl. Whisk in 1 cup hot cream in a slow stream.
4. Pour egg mixture into the remaining hot cream in the saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until custard coats the back of the spoon and reads 175 degrees F (80 degrees C) on an instant-read thermometer, about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
5. Pour custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Let cool completely, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Chill, covered, for at least 3 hours.
6. Freeze custard in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions, about 20 minutes. Transfer to an airtight container and place in the freezer to firm up.

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