Author Notes: There isn't one thing about peonies that I don't love. They are delicate from petal to root. Peonies look like lace, smell like an understated rose, and their petals feel like butter. If there was a bed made of peony petals I think I might never leave it. Since I have been playing with new flavors I got to looking at my peonies differently. They are another edible flower. Yay for that! So I started thinking "ice cream", and this is what I ended up with. It is technically a frozen custard since it uses eggs but I'm calling it an ice cream for simplicity of terminology. **Note: Peonies are poisonous to cats, so keep this away from them** - Dabblings
Food52 Review: This peony custard is the sophisticated shade of pink you wished your 3 year-old would have chosen for their bedroom walls. When you add the deep purple stripe of the honeyed blackberries, it is a feast for the eyes. You need fragrant flowers to achieve a headier scent and taste. I used a sieve and a wooden spoon to crush the steamed petals and squeeze out all of the color and flavor. More unusual than rose or lavender flavors but balanced with the fruit ribbon swirls for an elegant last course. - lorigoldsby - lorigoldsby
Makes one quart
- 4 large eggs
- 3/4 cups sugar
- 2 cups heavy cream or whipping cream
- 1 1/2 cup whole milk
- 12 large, fully opened peony blossoms
- 3 cups blackberries
- Honey (to taste)
- Pick the petals from six of the blossoms from the peonies. You don't want the stamen or any part of the stem. Wash them repeatedly. Besides ants, there will be other little bugs who are also very fond of these flowers. I'm assuming that most people don't want to be eating those little guys. So wash, wash, wash. I used my salad spinner, which seemed to do the trick.
- Combine the heavy cream, the whole milk, and the petals in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Stir the petals into the cream until the cream is at a bare simmer. Turn off the heat and allow the petals to steep. After 30 minutes strain the petals with a fine strainer and repeat the process with the other six blossoms using the same cream. You are double infusing the cream to get a strong peony flavor.
- While you are infusing the cream for a second time whisk the eggs in a mixing bowl until they are light and fluffy. I used a hand mixer for 2 minutes. Once the eggs are fluffy, whisk in the sugar a little at a time until it is fully Incorporated.
- Pour about a cup of the hot, strained, peony cream into the egg mixture, whisking the whole time (you are tempering the eggs here). Then pour the egg mixture into the saucepan with the rest of the peony cream. Cook the ice cream base over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture coats the back of a spoon (so that when you run your finger down the back of the spoon it leaves a line through the ice cream base). This won't take more than a few minutes so don't go anywhere, just keep stirring.
- Once the ice cream base coats the back of a spoon lick the spoon, and remove the ice cream base from the heat. Transfer the base to a container and set it in the refrigerator until it is cooled completely. I suggest letting it chill overnight. Impatience is your enemy here.
- Next make the blackberry syrup. Place the blackberries into a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir them and smoosh them with a spoon until they are a pulpy mess. At this point add in the honey. I used about 1 1/2 Tbs of honey. I didn't put in a measurement under the ingredients because you may want it sweeter or not so sweet. I add in the honey and taste it until it is where I like it. Also some blackberries are sweeter than others, so you really have to keep an open mind about the amount of honey you plan on using. Once the mixture has come to a simmer remove it from the heat. Strain it to remove the pulp and the seeds. Store it until it is completely cooled in the refrigerator.
- The next day freeze your ice cream base in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturers instructions.
- When the ice cream is at a soft serve consistency turn off the ice cream maker and place 1/3 of the ice cream into a container. Drizzle a tablespoon or two of the blackberry syrup onto the ice cream. Layer another 1/3 of the ice cream into the container and repeat with the blackberry syrup. Then put the last 1/3 of the ice cream on top of that. Take a knife and swirl the blackberry syrup into the peony ice cream gently. Don't over-do it or it will combine too much.
- Once swirled to satisfaction place the container of peony ice cream into the freezer to harden. This will take 3-4 hours.