This ice cream freshens you up, leaving a gentle hint of lavender lingering on. You can use fresh or dried lavender. Fresh lavender flowers should be collected in branches at the end of summer, then left to dry in bunches. I love this with wild strawberries when they are in season. You can keep the egg whites towards another use such as Nonna’s egg white cake or they can be stored in the freezer, with a label to remind you how many there are.
Put the milk in a medium pot and bring slowly to the boil. Add the lavender flowers just before it gets there and then take the pot off the heat. Leave for about 10 minutes to infuse, stirring so the lavender perfumes the milk.
Use electric beaters to beat the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl until pale, thick and creamy. Strain the perfumed milk into the egg mixture, whisking to incorporate so the eggs don’t curdle. Return all the mixture to the pan and cook over low heat until slightly thickened. It is important to use a very low heat and whisk for just a short time so the eggs don’t curdle. Set aside to cool for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring every now and then.
Whisk in the mascarpone until free of lumps, then cool completely. Churn in an ice-cream machine following the manufacturer’s instructions. Alternatively, pour into a shallow tray and put in the freezer. When it is just frozen, after about 1 hour, beat vigorously with a fork to break up the ice crystals and then return the tray to the freezer. Repeat this process twice before leaving it to freeze completely. Keep in the freezer in a sealed container.
If the ice cream seems too hard to serve initially, leave it at room temperature to soften slightly. Serve scoops of the ice cream with some wild strawberries.
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