Living Deliberately with Elderflower-Honey Ice Cream

I’m getting really excited — change of season, good things on the horizon, and a new ice cream machine that will surely be a dangerous addition to my life. Things are looking good. Going from the beautiful, snowy yet warm Walden Pond, to gorgeous sunsets on Cape Ann signaling spring is in the air. What better way to celebrate than with some light, honey-sweetened ice cream?

For some ice cream inspiration, I picked up a copy of the latest Kinfolk (an ode to ice cream) and David Lebovitz’s book The Perfect Scoop. In the deliciously-photographed Kinfolk, I saw a recipe for Chamomile-Honey Ice Cream, and along the same lines, a Lavender-Honey Ice Cream in The Perfect Scoop. Thinking of the fragrant dried elderflowers I already had on hand, I knew how I had to christen my new machine!

This is based on the recipe found in The Perfect Scoop, substituting elderflower for lavender. It’s rich, creamy, and subtle like spring: the honey and flower buds promise warm, cheerful days ahead. It takes a little advance planning. You’ll want to put the ice cream machine’s freezer bowl in the freezer the day before, as well as make the mixture a day ahead. There’s something wonderful about waking up to a ready-made mixture, simply pouring it into the machine and walking away with my morning coffee, windows open, and returning a half-hour later to a batch of homemade ice cream. Can’t be beat.

It does need to be transferred to a different container in the freezer for a few hours if you want it to be harder, but good luck not sneaking a few bites in the meantime!

Elderflower-Honey Ice Cream

  • 1/2 cup good-flavored honey, local if possible
  • 1/4 cup dried or fresh elderflowers
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/4 cup organic sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, not ultra-pasteurized
  • 5 large, fresh egg yolks

In a small saucepan, heat the honey and 2 tablespoons of the elderflowers. Once warm, set aside away from the heat to let steep for an hour.

In a medium saucepan, warm the milk, sugar, and salt. In a large bowl, pour the cream and set a mesh strainer on top. After the elderflower-infused honey has steeped for an hour, pour the honey through the strainer into the cream, pressing on the flowers to extract as much floral goodness as possible. Discard the used elderflowers, stir the honey and cream, and put the strainer back over the cream.

In a separate medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks together. Slowly pour in the warm milk mixture into the yolks, whisking constantly, and then pour every last bit of the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

Over medium heat, constantly stir the mixture with a heatproof spatula to be sure the eggs don’t scramble. Continue to scrape the bottom and sides of the pan as you stir. The custard is ready once it coats the back of the spatula, and if after swiping your finger through the custardy spatula for a taste, it stays clean. If the spot where you swiped becomes filled with the mixture again, it still needs a little more time.

Once it’s ready, pour the custard through the strainer and stir it well into the cream. Add the remaining two tablespoons of elderflowers and stir until the mixture is cool, over an ice bath. (Basically, set up a larger bowl with ice water, and gently set the bowl with the mixture over the icy bowl.)

Chill the soon-to-be ice cream in the refrigerator overnight to let the flavors do their thing. The next day, before churning, strain to remove the elderflowers, again pressing them to get as much flavor out as possible. Discard the flowers and make the ice cream according to your machine’s instructions.

I chilled a ball jar in the freezer while making the ice cream, and then scooped it into the glass jar to freeze it more. Although delicious right out of the freezer bowl, it was still pretty soft, and I wanted some serious scoops. To get that consistency, I let it freeze a few hours after making it at 8am. But that’s not to say I didn’t dig into it impatiently at 10am before giving it a few more hours…who can really blame me?

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