Lavender Ice Cream

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes:

    6 cups

    (depending on the ice cream maker)

Appears in

I tasted this ice cream for the first time in Florence, Italy, when I was visiting my friend Faith Willinger, of Cucina Toscana (a travel and food consulting service), who has been living there for over twenty years. Faith is one of the best spontaneous cooks I know. When you arrive at her beautiful apartment in the old city, you enter right into the large modernized dining room/kitchen and are immediately enveloped in comfort and nostalgic aromas. A fire is always flaming in the countertop-height wood-burning grill, Tuscan beans may be bubbling on the stove and at least ten different appetizers are likely to be in various stages of preparation.

Faith’s kitchen is the social culinary hub of Florence. Purveyors from all over the country send their products for her to sample and evaluate and people come to her from all over the world for advice on where to eat and where to stay in Italy. Faith knows that I love to try different restaurants when I travel so she always sounds guilty when suggesting that we eat “at home,” but the truth is I’d rather eat at her table, with her son Max and husband Massimo and assorted impromptu guests, than in any restaurant in Italy! One visit, however, Faith did succeed in having us eat dessert at one of her favorite restaurants, and it was there that I discovered the pure perfumed magic of lavender ice cream.

I always have an eye out for special flourless desserts for Passover. This subtly elegant ice cream is an inviting finale to the seder meal.

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KEEPS: Ice cream has the best texture within 3 days of freezing, but with the vodka this ice cream will maintain its texture for up to a week.
volume ounces grams
sugar, divided ¾ cup 5.25 ounces 150 grams
lavender flowers* 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon
8 large egg yolks 4.5 fluid ounces 5.25 ounces 150 grams
salt pinch
heavy cream 3 liquid cups
milk 1 liquid cup
OPTIONAL: vodka 2 tablespoons

*Fresh lavender flowers can be frozen in an airtight jar for up to a year. If using dried lavender, use only 1 teaspoon and add it to the milk and cream mixture before bringing it to the boiling point. Allow the mixture to stand off the heat for 5 minutes before adding it to the egg yolks. The lavender will be strained out when the mixture is poured through the strainer, which is preferable when using the dried flowers. A source for dried lavender is Aphrodisia, 264 Bleecker Street, New York, New York 10014 (212-989-6440). Do not use potpourri as it has been sprayed.


In a food processor with the metal blade or a blender, process ¼ cup of the sugar with the fresh lavender until the lavender is in fine particles. Transfer the mixture to a medium mixing bowl, place it near the range and suspend a fine strainer over it.

In a small heavy noncorrodible saucepan, stir together the yolks, remaining ½ cup sugar and the salt until well blended, using a wooden spoon.

In another small saucepan (or a heatproof glass measure in a microwave on high power) scald* the cream and milk. Stir a few tablespoons into the yolk mixture, then gradually add the remainder, stirring constantly.

*Bring just to the boiling point (small bubbles will begin to appear around the edges).

Heat the mixture, stirring constantly to just below the boiling point (170°F. to 180°F.). Steam will begin to appear and the mixture will be slightly thicker than heavy cream; a finger run across the back of a spoon dipped in the mixture will leave a well-defined track. Immediately remove from the heat and pour into the strainer, scraping up the thickened cream on the bottom of the pan. Cool in an ice-water bath or the refrigerator until cold, at least 2 hours, or overnight.

Stir in the optional vodka. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Allow the ice cream to ripen for at least 2 hours in the freezer before serving. If it is held longer and becomes very hard, allow it to sit in the refrigerator or at room temperature until softened and creamy.