Iced chamomile tea with cream & vanilla is the perfect, relaxing refresher after a hard day of gardening & yard work, & has been a go-to-staple in our house forever. A couple years back, I had a lovely chamomile ice cream at the Bistro [props here to you, Meredith!] & it inspired me to create my own version, pulling in the cream & vanilla notes from our tea.
I do use rather a lot of egg yolks [pavlovas or egg-white omelets later, anyone?] here, but I find the richness they give is the perfect, deep-note foil for all the ‘high’ the flowers bring to it. When making homemade ice cream, time & patience are your allies -- Rest assured, your waiting will pay off in the end! Let’s get started!
Place any dried chamomile in the bottom of a large mason jar or other container with a tight-fitting lid. Add your half & half slowly to the jar. Press & softly mash with a wooden spoon, then add any fresh flowers being used, continuing to press & mash them down to incorporate. Seal the jar & pop it in your refrigerator to steep overnight. After 24-hours, you have 2 options: You can strain off your half & half & carry on with the recipe, or you can lightly scald the half & half before straining to create a deeper chamomile flavor. It makes delicious ice cream either way; I like the boost scalding gives the flavor, so I pour it macerating flowers & all into a small sauce pan & gently heat it just to the point of simmering [DO NOT ALLOW TO BOIL!] before straining. Use a very-fine strainer, pressing to get every drop. Even with a very fine strainer, you're likely to have some small bits of chamomile left behind, which is fine. You can then either rinse the spent chamomile & compost it, or simply throw it out. Your half & half will now be delicately scented, chamomile flavored, & a gorgeous pale yellow. Now we're ready to begin making our ice cream base, where we will temper the eggs & create a luscious, chamomile custard!
Old-Fashioned Style Chamomile Ice Cream
3 cups Chamomile Steeped Half & Half
Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean
8 egg yolks
1 cup granulated sugar
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp vanilla extract [optional]
1 cup heavy cream
In a medium sized cocotte or saucepan, whisk your egg yolks & sugar until completely combined. Add the salt & whisk a bit more & set aside.
Pour your half & half into a small saucepan & add the vanilla bean seeds. Bring it just to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring only occasionally. Again, do NOT let it come to a full boil! Gradually add the heated half & half to the egg-sugar mixture, whisking constantly to temper the eggs. Return the combined mixture to low heat, whisking to thicken the custard until it reaches 165º F [again, do not allow it to come to a boil.] Remove it from the heat. Pour the custard base into an airtight container & set in the refrigerator to chill. The better chilled your base is, the better your ice cream will set & creamier it will be! Do not rush this process! [I feel you-- the patience thing is hard for me!] It is best to allow the base to chill overnight, but it must be at least down to 60º F before you run it through your machine in order to set up.
The chamomile flavor is delicate, but solidly present here. It is a rich, satisfying ice cream, so best served in small amounts. I like to add an almond-hazelnut biscotti on the side for dipping! Enjoy it with a nice glass of Chamomile Lemonade for an extra refreshing end to a meal! Be sure to let me know how yours turns out--I LOVE hearing from you & was thrilled to get all the pictures of everyone's Peony Jelly a couple weeks back! Thanks for sharing!
Until next time-- #StopAndEatTheFlowers
Chamomile is such an amazing Herbal Ally & is so versatile, she is an important ingredient in many of our top-selling items!
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