Lavender-ginger ice cream beside an apple galette with golden raisins and dried cranberries. This time, when I added the raisins, cranberries and almonds to the filling, I put them -under- the apples, rather than on top where they burned last time. This worked perfectly, I am pleased to report.
I don’t often make desserts.
Mainly, that is because I prefer cooking to baking, but also, because most of the time when I cook, most people eat so much of the dinner that they seldom want dessert until the next day.
Which is fine if people are staying for the weekend, but not so good if they are only there for the evening.
But, now and again, I like to make a sweet thing, like a batch of brownies, a pan of shortbread, maybe some scones, or for really special occasions, such as cherry season, a pie. Or in the case of Meyer lemon season–lemon bars.
Ever since I learned how to make galettes for the raclette class I taught back in January, I have been into making them because they really are a simple, quick but foolproof casual dessert. Now that the step of making and rolling out pie crust doesn’t intimidate me or give me hives, I actually think of galettes as fun. The simple nature of the fillings certainly appeal to my tendency to improvise, and since we were having an essentially country French dinner last night, I figured a galette was in order.
But, I felt that I wanted to do something more.
As lovely as galettes are, they can look rather nude on the serving plate, and since I adore my in-laws, I wanted to zing up the presentation. I was not into making a dessert sauce, like creme anglaise or a caramel-nut sort of dealiebob. Nor did I want to make whipped cream, as that is rather done and somewhat trite. While I could have run out and picked some violets and crystallized them, I was having pansy blossoms in the salad, so that would be a bit on the repetitive side.
But the flower idea kept haunting me, it being spring and all, so I went to my cupboard and found the dried lavender, and I got to thinking.
Lavender is often used in savory dishes in Provence, so why not use it in something to go with the galette?
Like, say, oh, homemade ice cream?
Oooh. Ice cream.
Tessa and Karl both -love- the frozen dairy products (as do I), so it was a natural.
Of course, I thought of this about four hours before dinner was to happen, so I didn’t really plan ahead.
I knew where the ice cream maker was, as I had found it in my unpacking adventures two nights before. I knew where the rock salt was. So what if I didn’t know if I had enough ingredients?
My ice cream maker is a Rival model I bought at Target about six years ago for the measley sum of eight dollars, because it was the end of the season, and they wanted to be rid of them. It is a tiny electric critter that makes two quarts, but hey, for eight bucks, who is going to argue?
So, I dragged it out, and looked in the instruction book for a vanilla ice cream recipe.
Now, even though it is only a two-quart model, all of the recipes in the little instruction booklet (which makes ice cream making sound a lot harder than it really is) that came in the box are for four quarts, which is not only excessive when I am talking about dessert for four people, but a physical impossiblity for my equipment. So, already, I am going to be improvising.
So, since I was already improvising and altering the recipe considerably by cutting it in half, and adding lavender to the mixture, I figured, why stop there? Why not make a few more tiny little changes?
Like why just flavor it with lavender and vanilla?
Why not add something else?
Like, oh, say, uh, ginger?
You just knew I would have to sneak some Chinese ingredient in there somehow, didn’t you?
Well, yeah, I am that way.
I hadn’t gotten to cook them Chinese food, so I figured I’d take my country French dinner and throw an Asian curve ball into the works and see what happened.
What happened was rather tasty: lavender and ginger go well together. Which is a good thing, because I wasn’t satisfied with one form of ginger, but instead, used three different kinds of it, just for kicks.
I also ended up using a cup of whole milk sour cream in it, because I didn’t have enough heavy cream and had no half and half like the recipe I was adapting used. It turned out to be an inspired choice; the tang was a welcome addition to the mix of flavors. I also lowered the amount of sugar called for and instead of regular granulated sugar, used evaporated cane juice, because it has a more complex flavor profile.
I have to admit, however, that I have not come up with a good name for the ice cream, so for the moment, it will have to be known quite simply as
Lavender-Ginger Ice Cream
1 cup 1% milk
2 tablespoons dried lavender buds
1/2 teaspoon dried ginger
3/4 cup evaporated cane juice or sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (I used Penzey’s double strength)
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup sour cream
4 tablespoons finely minced crystallized ginger
1″ cube fresh ginger, grated finely
Heat milk, lavender buds and ginger in a heavy bottomed saucepan on low heat for five minutes. Bring to a near boil to scald milk, remove from heat, and stir. Allow to sit and steep at least fifteen minutes. The longer you steep, the more lavender flavor you will extract.
Strain buds out of milk, and bring back to scalding temperature. Add sugar, honey, and salt, stir until dissolved. Add remaining ingredients, and whisk briskly to incorporate sour cream.
Pour into ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. Makes about two quarts.
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