As far as flowers go, the culinary-use ones are a pretty small subset. We have lavender, we have rose, we have, uh … French lavender?
Still, I think we should consider them honorary spring produce. Anything that awakens your senses this way, if you’re anything like me, makes you want to cook. Every corner of the PSU Farmer’s Market here in Portland is bursting with the lushest of lush blooms, and it smells almost as good as the wood-fired pizza oven somebody lugs in every week (bless their heart).
Even more extraordinary than buckets upon buckets of gorgeous bouquets, though, is the experience of wandering around in acre-sized fields of flowers — flowers still attached to dirt. (Nature-ish!) Thousands of blooms, with infinite variety, and no two looking exactly the same.
Last year, I visited Daffodil Hill in California’s Gold Country, and a couple of weeks ago, I made it to the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival here in Oregon. I think this sort of thing is becoming a favorite springtime activity for me. I needed one, since I don’t care about baseball or Cadbury Creme Eggs (why the Cadbury Caramel Eggs haven’t disowned them to protect their reputation, I’ll never understand).
If you have some sort of flower festival in your area, I highly suggest you go — it’s good for your soul. Beauty for beauty’s sake is important (or so I tell myself when I spend 45 minutes deciding between two fonts). And, since Google doesn’t turn up much in a search for chamomile farms, I have a hunch that my retirement plan is pretty solid.
… Which brings me to why we’re all here in the first place: Dessert.
This ice cream is interesting in that the tastes are so warm — chamomile and honey don’t sound remotely like anything you’d want on toasty spring days. It’s a classic combination of flavors, served at the “wrong” temperature, in waffle cones instead of steaming mugs.
The end result is delicate, floral, and sophisticated. That additional honey isn’t just for show, either; the ice cream itself isn’t too sweet, so a gorgeous amber ripple as a topping is far from overkill.
Not that I would ever stop you from ice cream overkill.
Have a gorgeous April weekend, good people! If anyone needs me, I’ll be sitting here wondering where I can get food photography prop bees for the next honey ice cream shoot. There’s a modeling agency somewhere, right?
“Bees. So hot right now. Get me bees.”
- 2 cups whole milk
- 4 teaspoons cornstarch
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 2/3 cup honey
- 7 chamomile tea bags
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
- Combine 1/4 cup of the milk and the cornstarch until smooth and set aside.
- In a large saucepan, whisk together remaining milk and the cream along with the honey and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 4 minutes, then remove from heat, add tea bags, cover, and let it steep for 2 hours.
- Strain the mixture and discard tea bags, squeezing to remove as much milk as possible. Return milk mixture to a boil, add the cornstarch slurry and cook, stirring, until thickened, about 2 minutes.
- Pour 1/4 cup of the hot milk mixture into a small bowl with the cream cheese and whisk until completely smooth, then whisk this into the rest of the milk mixture. Cover and chill thoroughly.
- When mixture is completely chilled, churn ice cream according to manufacturer instructions and transfer to a storage container before freezing. Makes a generous quart.