It started when I was at university in Santa Barbara. I was a junk-food vegan. That is, a person who is vegan who eats nothing but vegan junk foods-- vegan cookies, vegan muffins, vegan pasta dishes-- and assumes that they're healthy because of the vegan label. On one of my health-food store trips, I discovered these vegan lavender shortbread cookies, and I was hook line and sinkered. I mean really, I'd eat about a box of them every two days. Something about that lavender flavour infused with a bit of sweetness just makes me crazily happy. It still does-- I'm a sucker for anything with lavender.
Yesterday morning, as I was wandering around the garden in pre-dawn bliss (being up at that time of night/morning when the rest of the world is asleep makes me really happy... probably because it's the only time it's remotely quiet in Los Angeles) I walked through this cloud of lavender and was so inspired that I picked all of the flowers and ran inside to make ice cream. I don't know how my poor neighbours tolerate all of my crashing and clanging first thing in the morning :).
Lavender-honey ice cream
2 cups cream
2 cups milk
1 cup lavender flowers
1/3 cup honey
5 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
a pretty sea salt, for garnish
Place the lavender flowers in a saucepan, and cover with cream. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, and then remove from heat and allow the lavender to infuse for an hour. Don't leave it for any longer than that or it will go bitter. Bring cream back up to a simmer, then strain out the lavender flowers.
Whisk egg yolks together in a bowl. Ladle in a few scoops of the lavender-infused cream, while whisking the egg yolks, then pour the whole mixture back into the saucepan. Add the honey, salt, and vanilla. Cook on low-medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens to a custard-- about 10 minutes usually.
Remove from the heat. Pour in the milk and incorporate it fully.
Taste the mixture-- since lavender flowers vary in strength and flavour, yours might need more milk or honey (if it does, add them a tablespoon at a time until it tastes right).
Put in a bowl and refrigerate until fully cold (I actually put mine in the freezer because I'm always in a hurry to make it. Well, to eat it.).
Once fully cold, and I mean REALLY cold, pour into ice cream maker and freeze according to instructions.
Serve with a sprig of lavender on top, and a sprinkling of black sea salt. The salt really brings out the flavour.