Brown-Butter and Lavender Ice Cream

By • January 31, 2010 0 Comments

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Author Notes: I have the fondest memories whenever I smell lavender. When my sister and I were younger and went exploring our neighborhood on bikes, we would pretend to fill our "vehicles" with gas. The gas pump was a bush of lavender on our street. Whenever I smell the scent of lavender, I think of my small red hands, cold from the wind, gripped tightly around my bicycle handles.

Here’s a version of my ice cream with lavender. The custard is from David Lebovitz. His ice creams are deliciously creamy.


Serves a generous quart


  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • a generous pinch of coarse sea salt
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • dash of pure vanilla extract
  • ice
  • water

Brown-Butter and Lavender

  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • good handful sweet lavender
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • pinch of brown sugar
  1. Place the butter in a hot pan. Cook for about 3-4 minutes, until it becomes brown and foamy. Be careful not to burn. Take it off the heat, but don’t let it cool to the point where it solidifies.
  2. For the custard, set up an ice bath by placing a large bowl (at least 2-quarts) into a larger bowl and fill it halfway with ice and water. Set a mesh strainer over the top of the bowl and pour the cream into the bowl. On a stovetop, warm the milk, browned butter, salt and sugar. Separate the eggs in a separate bowl, saving the egg whites for a cake or breakfast. Mix the yolks and then gently temper them, by gradually pouring in the milk mixture, whisking constantly. When combined, pour back into the pan and stir constantly with a heatproof spatula on low heat, until the custard becomes thick enough to coat the back of the spatula. Pour the thickened custard into the strainer on top of the ice bath. Stir until cooled and then place the bowl in the fridge, preferably overnight, or at least a good couple hours.
  3. Mince the lavender. (I found my lavender at a nursery. I could not for the life of me find it at any grocery store. Everyone kept pointing me towards the essential oils that are NOT edible. I got sweet lavender and the plant was young, so I didn’t use the bloom, I used the actual plant. There are about 25 different seeds, all of which are edible; it just depends on the certain climate you’re in.) Heat the water and sugar until it boils and becomes simple syrup. Place two thirds of the plant into the syrup to infuse. Bring down to a simmer for 2 minutes and then remove from heat. Pour the lavender into a strainer, reserving the simple syrup. Spread the infused lavender leaves on a piece of waxed paper on top of a baking sheet. Then, while they’re still soaking, sprinkle with a touch of brown sugar. Set aside.
  4. When the custard is completely chilled pour into an electronic ice cream maker (or a hand crank if you have one). Put in a pinch of fresh lavender leaves and a teaspoon of the simple syrup. Freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions, or about 20 minutes. Within the last five minutes, pour in the infused lavender leaves.
  5. Once frozen, at least 12 hours, serve ice cream in a quaint glass with a dollop of mascarpone cheese and a very light dusting of fine sea salt to starving roommates or wide-eyed kids. Garnish with herbs. It would also be great with a salted caramel sauce and/or crème fraiche. (Salt is optional too, so if you’re not feeling daring, please feel free to omit)
  6. Scrape bowl clean.

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