“I always make ice cream when I can’t sleep, so I’m glad someone was here to eat it.”
- Jane Adler, It’s Complicated
Ever since I saw the movie It’s Complicated starring Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin I’ve wanted to make Honey Lavender Ice Cream. For a movie whose primary plot involves a dysfunctional family and a love triangle, the underlying theme is undoubtedly food! Streep’s character, Jane Adler, is a French culinary school graduate who spends the majority of the film baking pies for her girlfriends, whipping up pain au chocolat for her architect, roasting chicken and baking chocolate cake for her ex-husband, and cooking elaborate meals for her family. While I do love all of these things (really I do!) the dish that caught my attention was the Honey Lavender Ice Cream. So when my cooking buddy, neighbor and baker extraordinaire Dwight Langford suggested we hit the kitchen to test dessert recipes I knew I had to try this one!
After testing a few different recipes, I came up with this one which combines the best elements of each. The texture is rich and luxurious but not too heavy; the flavors are nicely balanced but not too powerful; and the ice cream is sweet but not cloyingly so. In fact, no sugar is added to the recipe, the sweetness is dictated solely by the honey and cream. The type of honey you use in this recipe also makes a big difference. Ideally you want one with a mild flavor such as acacia which has a low acid content and is very light in color. I used the Rigoni di Asiago Mielbo Organic Italian Acacia Raw Honey I found at Fresh Market which was perfect. Acacia honey comes from the black locust or false acacia tree and is light-colored with a mild taste and hints of vanilla. It is considered “raw” because it is cold-pressed and has natural antibacterial and antibiotic properties.
The only equipment needed is a candy/instant read thermometer and an ice cream maker and you are good to go! A few things to remember, (1) be sure to put the freezer bowl for the ice cream maker in the freezer the night before you make the ice cream, (2) plan to make the Honey Lavender Ice Cream the day before serving in order to allow time for it to set up in the freezer, and most importantly (3) enjoy!
“Honey Lavender Ice Cream”
Makes approximately 1 quart
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups half and half
2/3 cup mild honey such as acacia
2 Tablespoons dried edible lavender flowers plus extra for garnish
2 large eggs
1/8 teaspoon Kosher salt
Bring cream, half and half, lavender and honey just to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently to prevent mixture from burning, then remove pan from heat. Cover and let steep for 30 minutes.
Pour mixture through a sieve into a bowl and discard lavender. Clean saucepan and return mixture to it and heat over medium heat until hot.
Whisk eggs and salt together in a large bowl, then gradually add one cup of the hot cream mixture to it in a slow stream whisking constantly to prevent eggs from cooking. Once mixed, add to remaining mixture in saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon and reaches 175 degrees on the thermometer, about 5 minutes – be careful not to let mixture boil!
Pour mixture through sieve again and into a clean bowl and allow to cool completely, stirring regularly to prevent a skin from forming on the top of the mixture. Once cooled, cover with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for at least 4 hours.
Freeze mixture in ice cream maker according to machine directions, transfer to container and chill in the freezer to harden, preferably overnight. Garnish with dried lavender flowers and enjoy!