Lavender’s blue, dilly dilly, mint is so green
Together they, dilly dilly, make good ice cream.
What of chocolate, dilly dilly, is there no place?
Swirled through in chips, dilly dilly, get in my face.
I’ve been wanting to make this ice cream for over a year. I wish I could say I came up with it while I was frolicking in a field of lavender in Provence, but the truth is much more banal. My post-shower routine, especially in the summer, involves a cooling lavender-scented foot cream, which is lovely after a long, hot day on my feet. Combine that with the minty-fresh post-toothbrushing-session breath, and it occurred to me one day how not-unlike each other lavender and mint really are. I thought about different dessert applications for this revelation, and naturally, ice cream sprang to mind.
At the time, I had neither an ice cream maker nor a good source of lavender flowers. But times have changed. I found some fragrant organic lavender in the Indian spice shop across the street, and almost immediately upon returning home whipped up a batch of my new favorite summer ice cream. Mint chip has always been a favorite flavor of mine, but the subtle hint of lavender turns a childhood favorite into something far more sophisticated, and possibly even more delicious.
It almost feels like I’ve been doing you a disservice by keeping this one under my hat for so long. So here you go:
Lavender-Mint Chip Ice Cream
This is one of those dessert experiments that came out even better than I expected. The calming lavender, the invigorating mint, the cooling cream, and the crunchy little bits of chocolate combine to make a truly divine ice cream that needs no adornment.
1½ c. / 375 ml milk
1½ c. / 375 ml cream
¾ c. / 5¼ oz. / 150 g sugar
Pinch of salt
¾ c. / 1 oz. / 25 g fresh mint, leaves and stems
3 Tbsp. / 8 g dried lavender flowers
5 egg yolks
4½ oz. / 125 g bittersweet chocolate (I used a 70% from the Caribbean)
- Combine the milk, sugar, salt, mint, lavender, and ½ c. / 125 ml of the cream in a medium saucepan. Bring up to a simmer, then cover and steep for about an hour.
- While you’re waiting, whisk the egg yolks lightly in a heatproof bowl and pour the remaining 1 c. / 250 ml cream into another bowl.
- Strain the lavender-mint infusion. Discard the solids, then return the liquid to the saucepan. Heat to a simmer once more. Reduce the heat, and temper in the egg yolks: pour some of the hot liquid into the egg yolks, whisking to make sure it doesn’t curdle. Pour the yolks, now tempered (i.e. used to the temperature of the hot milk) back into the saucepan and cook the custard over low heat until it thickens slightly. This will occur at a temperature between 175 and 185F / 80 and 85 C. Strain the custard into the bowl with the cream and chill thoroughly, preferably overnight.
- Churn the ice cream in an ice cream machine, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. While it’s churning, melt the chocolate and keep it warm, but not too hot.
- When you take the ice cream out of the machine, layer it into a container, drizzling the melted chocolate over each layer, and stirring to break it up into melt-in-your-mouth little bits. (When the Italians do this, they call it stracciatella.) Keep layering until all the ice cream and chocolate are in the container. Freeze until firm before serving.
Makes about 1 quart / 1 liter.
On this day in 2008: A Few Little Bites… (Bits and pieces about our trip to Bulgaria.)
Originally published on Croque-Camille.