I first tasted this ice cream in a small shop in Nice, France's Old Town. The subtle lavender flavor had me hooked at first lick! I had to come home and figure out how to make it. Be sure the lavender you use is specifically for food. The stuff for sachets has been treated with chemicals. —ChefJune
In a small, heavy saucepan, combine 2 tablespoons of the sugar, 1 1/2 tablespoons of lavender and 1 1/2 teaspoon of water. Cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture dries (2 to 3 minutes). Transfer to a plate to cool, then grind to a fine powder in a spice grinder or a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Set aside
In a large heavy saucepan, combine the milk, crème fraîche, vanilla bean and remaining 1 1/4 cups sugar and 1/2 teaspoon lavender. Cook over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is hot (about 8 minutes).
Remove from heat, cover and let the mixture steep for 15 minutes. Strain the milk through a fine-mesh sieve and return it to the saucepan.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs until blended. Gradually whisk in one-third of the warmed milk mixture in a thin stream, then whisk the mixture back into the remaining milk in the saucepan. Stir in the reserved lavender powder.
Cook over moderately low heat, stirring constantly, until the custard lightly coats the back of a spoon (about 5 to 7 minutes). BE CAREFUL NOT LET THE MIXTURE BOIL!
6. Immediately remove from the heat and strain the custard into a medium bowl. Set the bowl in a larger bowl of ice and water, and let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. (Or, you can use the refrigerator [or freezer]). Cover and refrigerate until cold, at least 2 hours, or overnight.
Pour the custard into an ice cream freezer and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Teacher’s Tip: The lavender powder can be made in advance and frozen for up to 3 weeks in an airtight container.