December 13, 2010

Honey Lavender Gelato

Homemade gelato, yay!!! Gelato is actually not that difficult to make once you have the technique down! I started making gelato a few years ago and once I figured out the basic recipe and technique (basically you have to keep your egg yolks from being heated too fast) you can pretty much flavor it however you'd like! Which got me thinking... We used to eat several years ago at this wonderful Argentine restaurant that had honey lavender gelato as a dessert. I never saw it in stores, so I figured if we wanted to eat it, I'd probably have to make it!

Honey Lavender Gelato
3 cups whole milk
1 Tbsp. honey
1/8 cup lavender (dried flowers)
pinch sea salt
4 egg yolks (room temperature)
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup sugar

It's very important that your eggs are room temperature. In a sauce pan over medium-low heat, combine the milk, honey, salt and lavender flowers. The flowers will only float on the surface of this step, so don't be alarmed if they won't mix in. Heat, stirring constantly, until bubbles form around the edges of the pan- you are just scalding the milk, don't allow it to simmer or boil.

In a medium sized bowl, combine the egg yolks, cream and sugar. Stir with a whisk until well combined and the sugar begins to incorporate into the other ingredients. Once the milk mixture has reached the desired temperature, use a measuring cup to remove roughly 1 cup of the hot milk. In a very slow trickle, add to the egg yolk mixture while whisking. This will take several minutes to add the whole 1 cup of hot milk, keep whisking the whole time. This is tempering the eggs, raising their temperature slowly enough that they don't cook and become scrambled eggs. You need to do this with at least 1 cup of the milk mixture, more is also acceptable, but it's probably unnecessary to do more than 2 cups.

Add the egg yolk mixture to the remaining milk in the sauce pan and heat over medium to medium-low heat. You need to stir it constantly and do not allow it to boil. An occasional simmering bubble is alright, but not a lot of them. This next step is probably best with a wooden spoon, you won't need the whisk anymore. You might be wondering if we're going to be keeping the flowers in the gelato, we aren't, but we aren't at the step where we are straining it yet. This stirring over medium/low heat can take up to 30 minutes. In this step we are forming a custard and the mixture will start to gradually thicken. When it is slightly more viscous and coats the back of the wooden spoon well, not in a watery way, your custard stage is complete!

Now, strain the custard through a mesh sieve. It may be slightly too thick to pass through easily, you may need to stir the contents of the sieve to help it along. Once you've strained it, mix the strained custard well and place the bowl that it is in in a larger bowl full of ice water. Allow to cool, then place plastic wrap over the custard, with the plastic wrap touching the surface of the custard and refrigerate overnight.

Pre-freeze the bowl of your ice cream maker in the freezer. Remove your custard from the refrigerator and using a spatula, empty into the ice cream maker bowl. Turn on the ice cream maker and mix for 20-30 minutes, you'll visually be able to tell when it is done. Using a spatula again, scrape into a freezer container and freeze before serving.

This is so marvelous! The flavor is amazing and your family and friends will love it. It will be a flavor they can't get anywhere but at your house! What's also outstanding about this dessert for a dinner party is that it can be make several days ahead of time!

Where can I buy lavender flowers? I have bought lavender at Harris Teeter in the spice section and also at Whole Foods. I believe the brand I bought at Harris Teeter was McCormick. Why not use local honey and support your local farmers?


Anonymous said...

so why call it gelato?

La Dolce Duchessa said...

Good question! Gelato typically has more milk than ice cream and sometimes more egg yolks. It also expands less in the churning process, ice cream takes in some air, while gelato stays denser. Finally, gelato has to be served at a slightly higher temperature than ice cream because it is denser and therefore at a lower temperature too hard. Thank you for your question!