But endings are sad, and summer is coming to an end. So while I look forward to the autumn and sweater weather, I can be a bit wistful about summer’s end. So I turned it into ice cream.
What? I did.
Lavender Créme Fraîche Ice Cream.
This ice cream is a bit of an ode to summer along tinged with anticipation of fall. Blueberries speak of summer to me, and lavender is often harvested in late summer. The echo of its blooms carries over into the ice cream. Lemons, so sunshiny and vibrant are often reserved for cold-weather desserts since they’re available year round. And créme fraîche, the sweet cream of summer turned tangy with a bit of age. Not bad. Not sour. In transition.
Even as I type this, I am just finishing up a bowl. It is floral but not soapy. The blueberries and lemons balance each other perfectly so, rather than tasting one or the other, you taste both. It is creamy and rich and is doing its job, letting me anticipate fall while still enjoying the last few weeks of summer.
Créme fraîche is stupidly expensive in the US. I suggest you make a reasonable facsimile at home. This ice cream calls for 2 cups of créme fraîche and 2 cups of whole milk. You can adjust the ratio however you want, but use at least one cup of créme fraîche to enjoy that little bit of tang. You can also substitute sour cream. It will be a bit different, and you’ll have to modify your procedure since you can’t boil sour cream, but I’ll address that in the recipe notes.
To make your own, homemade créme fraîche, simply whisk together 2 cups of heavy cream with 1/4 cup of buttermilk. Then let it sit in a warm place (I put mine in the microwave with the light on inside) until it thickens. This can take up to 36-48 hours, so plan ahead. There is some magic in the buttermilk that keeps things from getting squirrely. I promise I have made créme fraîche countless times like this and nothing awful has ever happened. Once it has thickened. Store it in the fridge and use it up within a week or so. To make more or less créme fraîche, the ratio is 8 parts cream to 1 part buttermilk. Put another way, it’s 2 Tablespoons of buttermilk for every cup of heavy cream.
This recipe makes about 1 1/2 quarts of finished ice cream and about 5 cups of base.
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 Tablespoons culinary lavender blossoms
- 10 oz granulated sugar
- 2 cups créme fraîche (see section directly above recipe)
- 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 oz softened cream cheese
- 4 oz freshly squeezed and strained lemon juice
- 5 oz granulated sugar
- 6 oz (generous cup) fresh blueberries, washed and picked over
- 1 Tablespoon cornstarch (omit if not using in ice cream)
- heavy pinch of salt
- 1 whole egg
- 2 egg yolks
- (1 oz (2 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, use only if not using in ice cream)
In a heavy saucepan, stir together the whole milk and lavender. Heat, stirring, until the milk is steaming.
Set aside to steep for 20-30 minutes, depending on how pronounced you want the lavender flavor to be.
After steeping, strain out the lavender flowers through a fine mesh strainer.
Return the milk to the pan, and stir in the sugar.
Thoroughly whisk the créme fraîche together with the cornstarch until there are no lumps.
Add the créme fraîche mixture to the pan along with the salt.
Cook over medium to medium-high heat, whisking frequently and then constantly until it comes to a boil.
Let boil for 10-15 seconds then strain into a bowl with the softened cream cheese. Let it sit for a couple of minutes to melt the cheese and then whisk until the mixture is smooth.
Chill in an ice bath until the temperature is no higher than 40F, whisking occasionally. If you don't want to churn the same day, press plastic wrap on the surface of the base and refrigerate overnight.
Whisk together the lemon juice, sugar, berries, cornstarch (omit if you're not using it in ice cream), salt, egg and egg yolks.
Heat over medium to medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil. Let boil for 10-15 seconds.
If not using cornstarch, heat the mixture only until it thickens. Check its temperature. You're shooting for right around 170F.
Pour the thickened curd into a blender and puree on high speed until completely smooth.
Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl.
If not using in ice cream, whisk in the butter.
Cover with a lid or with plastic wrap, and chill until ready to use.
Churn the base according to your manufacturer's instructions.
While the ice cream is churning, spread about 1/3 cup of the curd in an even layer in the bottom of your container. (Of course, if your container is larger or smaller than mine, you'll have a different amount. Carry on). Place the container in the freezer.
Once the ice cream is at soft serve consistency, spread about 1/3 of it in an even layer over the now-frozen curd.
Repeat the layers of curd and ice cream twice more, ending with ice cream. Try to be careful in spreading the layers evenly so you have nice vibrant stripes of curd when you scoop it.
Press plastic wrap directly on the surface of the ice cream and freeze until firm, 4-6 hours.
You may need to let this sit on the counter for about 5 minutes before scooping.
See notes for variations.
If you would like to substitute sour cream for the créme fraîche, strain out the lavender flowers from the milk after 20-30 minutes, and then chill it completely.
Whisk the cornstarch into the now-cold milk. Once the milk-sugar-cornstarch mixture has thickened, remove it from the heat and whisk in the sour cream. Pour this mixture over the cream cheese. You may need to use a blender or immersion blender to get it completely smooth before chilling and churning.
I think you’ll enjoy this ice cream whether you’re an autumn person or a summer person. If you’re not a lavender person, please feel free to leave it out and flavor your ice cream with some good quality vanilla.Enjoy; thank you for reading, and have a lovely day.
Oh, before you go, I wanted to remind you of some posts you may have missed.
- Caramel Coffee Mousse--a really unique technique and a delicious dessert. From Passion for Coffee, one of my current advertisers. The book is worth it for the Anglaise recipe alone. Seriously.
- Toasted Almond Cookie Dumplings from Lee Anne Wong’s new cookbook Dumplings All Day Wong. I’m also giving away a copy of the book. You can enter up through 7pm on Tuesday, September 2, 2014.
- Grilled Vegetable Gazpacho, Greek-Style for this month’s Progressive Eats dinner, Summer Barbecue. It’s a great menu–please go check them all out!