This week's Sunday Slow Scoopers selection by Nancy was this unusual Lavender Honey Ice Cream. I have made a Lavender Creme Anglaise in the past and found it delicious, so I thought this ice cream would be similar. For a variety of reasons, I think, it ended up being just a little bit different.
To start off I think you have to be careful when selecting lavender that you want to cook with. In my Lavender Creme Anglaise I used, appropriately enough, English Lavender — Lavandula angustifolia Munstead. It has a very light and sweet flavor that is perfect for cooking. Unfortunately in my garden it has stopped blooming by August, and I didn't think to pick any for drying (note to self for next year). So I used the last few blooms of my French lavender, which is still considered edible, but it has a much stronger and more floral scent.
I had a couple of friends visiting (including Shannon a fellow Sunday Slow Scooper), and we wanted to make and serve this the same night. The recipe calls for making the base and letting the lavender flowers steep in the mixture overnight before straining and then making the ice cream. By doing it the same night we would lose out on a stronger lavender flavor. We figured that would be fine since the lavender I picked was pretty pungent to begin with.
So we made the custard base and somehow let it get too hot, and it broke. Not good. But David doesn't just give you these ice cream recipes and leave you high and dry. In the front matter of his book are just about the best set of tips I have ever come across in a cookbook. He tells you exactly what to do if your custard breaks—get out an immersion/stick blender and mix it thoroughly until it is smooth and perfect again. It really works. So the rest of the ice cream came together easily and we served it after dinner.
It looked great. The texture was superb. But the flavor was, well, interesting. Shannon said it tasted like beef and then added that it actually tasted more like yorkshire pudding. I took several more bites and agreed. Yes, it tasted like lavender, but it also had a nuance of yorkshire pudding. Where did that come from? Was it because the eggs developed an off flavor when the custard broke? Was it the lavender that I used? Was it because we didn't let it steep overnight?
The next day I tasted the ice cream again. The lavender flavor was much more pronounced, and I didn't pick up the yorkshire pudding flavor. So the stronger lavender flavor overpowered that hint of yorkshire pudding. But I do think that the custard breaking had something to do with that flavor. We may have salvaged the texture, but clearly it is better not to let your custard break. If I was to make this ice cream again, I would use English lavender, and I would be sure to keep the heat a little lower on the custard.