2.01.2012

Life is Complicated. Lavender Ice Cream Can Help.


I admit it.  My ice cream past drips peculiarities.  One of my all time favorite flavors is cucumber. I’ve written a love letter to scoops of strawberry.  And I’ve been known to stalk the rose-flavored variety that appears at Christina’s homemade ice cream shop in the summertime.  An ice cream—no less—that a dear, thoughtful friend said tasted like “grandma” when she tried it. 

This ice cream is not like that.  I promise.  Think Meryl Streep.  Okay, that almost certainly doesn’t help; you probably need more information.  In a recent-ish movie, the lovely Ms. Streep played a pastry chef that made lavender ice cream when she couldn’t sleep.  That’s the charm of Meryl. 

And that’s the charm of this ice cream.  And the charm of a lady in Ohio called Jeni who has found a way to make homemade ice cream taste very, very good.  It's texture almost has a chew to it.  And believe me, friends, this is a wonderful thing.  

It’s a very, very wonderful thing that has caused me to repeat myself.  Repeat myself!  And then gently nudge to lower my voice. Check my enthusiasm at the freezer.  Lest we forget, the point of lavender is to relax. 

So I urge you.  If you happen to have an ice cream maker.  If you tend to get sweaty palms at the sight of ice cream, have difficulty sleeping, or experience some combination thereof.  If you take comfort in cold, sweet things.  Make this little lavender number.  Life's complicated.  It could be the best thing you do for yourself all month. Consider it aromatherapy for your stomach.  Or a sweeter version of Ambien.  I’m not going to say it’s better than Meryl.  But it’s damn near close.


Lavender Ice Cream 
Adapted from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams At Home


Ingredients:

Berry base for coloring
1/2 cup blueberries
2 tbsp sugar

Ice cream base
2 cups whole milk
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp cornstarch
3 tbsp cream cheese, softened
Pinch kosher salt
1-1/4 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp light corn syrup (or brown rice syrup)
1 tbsp dried lavender buds, wrapped in cheese cloth and tied with kitchen twine
1/2 tsp orange blossom water
1 tbsp framboise

Instructions:

Bring blueberries and 2 tbsp of sugar to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring occasionally until the sugar is dissolved; remove from heat and set aside.

For the ice cream, combine 2 tbsp of the milk with the cornstarch and mix it in a small bowl until it becomes paste-like.  Then combine the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl and mix it until smooth.  Separately, fill a large bowl with ice and add water; set aside.

Heat the remaining milk, cream, 2/3 cup sugar, corn syrup (or brown rice syrup), and the cheese cloth filled with lavender in a large saucepan and bring to a gentle boil, stirring often so that the milk does not burn; keep at this for about 4 minutes and then remove the pan from the heat and add in the cornstarch slurry.  

Return the mixture to a boil and stir until it thickens slightly (this should only take a minute or so).  Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the cream cheese until smooth.  If any bits of cream cheese remain simply strain them out.  (Leave in the lavender.) Add the blueberry mixture and stir to combine.

To cool it down immediately, pour the mixture into a ziplock bag (or a smaller metal bowl that will fit inside your bowl filled with ice) and then chill your base in the bowl with ice water.  Then stick this all in the fridge.  (It should be cold in 30-60 minutes or so.)  Alternatively, you could stick your ice cream base directly into the fridge and chill it overnight. (You may want to take the bunch of lavender out after an hour or so if you are chilling it overnight to prevent any off flavors from coming out.)

Once the ice cream base is good and cold, strain out the blueberries (or leave them in, if you choose) and remove the lavender (if you haven't already) and pour the ice cream mixture into the bowl of a frozen ice cream maker; spin it for 20-25 minutes, until it starts to set up and get thick and creamy.  Add the orange blossom water and framboise and let it churn for about 30-60 seconds more and then stop.

Pack the ice cream in a container fit for your freezer and cover with parchment paper.

Makes about 1 quart

Notes:
- Yes, this seems like a lot of steps but it is very much worth it.  Or, you can buy a similar version straight from Jeni.

-Also, Jeni leaves in the berries, but I wanted pure lavender.  She who makes the ice cream makes the choice.

-Jeni used 2 drops of food grade lavender essential oil.  I did not have this.  I had flower buds.  So I bundled them in cheesecloth and steeped them in the milk.  It was lovely.

-Jeni, Jeni, Jeni.

16 comments:

  1. This sounds absolutely lovely. And I love all the food scenes in that movie.

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  2. It's Complicated is one of my favorite movies! I want Meryl Streep's kitchen there. Never had lavender ice cream but it sounds very nice :)

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  3. I love, love Jeni's book. The ice cream looks great.

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  4. I love It's Complicated too! I don't bake or make desserts when I'm stressed, but I certainly love to cook to unwind and clear my head!

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  5. I love Jeni's! I'm an Ohioan and love to share Jeni with anyone who will listen. And a lot of people who probably don't. Oops. By the way, I love your blog--the wonderful recipes and the lovely way you write. It's inspired me to try Pimm's and homemade eggnog...all I can say is yum! and thanks!

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  6. Wow. Jeni. Wow. Cornstarch? Is that what helps give it the 'chew'? It sounds amazing. Hubby has problems sleeping and loves ice cream. This may have him written all over it!

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  7. this sounds like a perfectly relaxing bowl of ice cream. well done!

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  8. I need to make this. Unfortunately my freezer is jam-packed full right now and there's no room for an ice cream container. I might have to pitch the frozen peas and corn to make room.

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  9. My ice cream maker is hibernating for the winter but I a, willing to wake it up for this recipe. Sounds longer.

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  10. That's so coincidental that you posted this! I'm reading Jeni's book now and becoming inspired, and by you by making ice cream in February!! Thanks so much for the post - lavender is one of my favs so I very much look forward to trying this one. Cheers!

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  11. what a marvelously unique ice cream! i still can't fathom cucumber ice cream, but i can get behind this (and it can get on my behind). :)

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  12. This post makes me sad that when I was in Ohio this past summer, I turned down a trip to Jeni's because I was too stuffed from an amazing lunch at the Northstar Cafe....but there is a light at the end of the tunnel because it also gives me the chance to create the magic of Jeni's at home.

    P.S. I love that you're making ice cream in February. I'm also of the opinion that ice cream is not limited to seasons, but is an everyday kind of food.

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  13. It was so lovely to see all the love for Jeni ... for Meryl ... and for ice cream in February!

    Ashley-it pleases me to no end that you've now found Pimm's and boozy egg nog! :)

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  14. this ice cream sounds delicious! so creative!

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  15. I fell in love this very ice cream a couple of years ago from Jeni's when I lived in Ohio. I moved to Florida and no one there knows the goodness that is Jeni's. Additionally, sleep has been evading me. Ironically, I'm in Ohio for a few days and planned a special trip to Jeni's for this ice cream and bought a pint. I too love that movie where Meryl plays the pastry chef and remember them talking about how lavender ice cream help them sleep which is what led me to your article! All of this while I was eating the ice cream! And her recipe book is amazing!

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