All summer long I love to make ice creams and sorbets. I use all types of fruit to create the most fantastic flavors. For ice creams, too, I enjoy creating unique flavors with herbs and spices. These frozen treats are sweet and dessert-like, but they also work to cleanse the palate after a meal. So before the warm weather ends this September, I'm using my ice cream maker one last time.
Typically ice creams are made with a custard base using sugar and egg yolks that are combined with hot milk. You get rich consistency and a luscious mouthfeel from ice cream created this way. But instead of a custard base, this recipe uses crème fraîche to create the rich texture. This French cream is cultured and has a sweet-tart flavor like a cross between cream cheese and sour cream. It makes an exceptional ice cream. But I take this dessert to the next level with the addition of lavender.
Lavender is very much an underutilized herb here in the States. In France you'll see fields of lavender during summer. Most people think it can only be used as an air freshener or scent for cosmetics. Popular in Provençal cooking, lavender is typically used in the spice blend herbes de Provence, which is added to stews, soups, and seafood recipes. Combining lavender and crème fraîche just seemed to be an obvious way to bring together two very French ingredients. Try this ice cream for yourself and you'll be surprised by the refreshing flavor.
Lavender-Crème Fraîche Ice Cream
2 cups milk
3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lavender leaves or dried buds
1 pound crème fraîche
Warm milk in a saucepan. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Add lavender, cover and infuse 30 minutes off from heat. Chill or 4 hours or overnight.
In a blender, combine chilled, infused milk with crème fraîche and blend until smooth. Transfer mixture to ice cream maker and churn for about 40 minutes, depending on the machine. Transfer to a large container, such as a loaf pan, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until hard, about 12 hours or overnight. Yield: 1-1/2 quarts.