Thursday, August 17, 2006

Rose and Lavender Ice Creams

I've been dreaming of making rose-flavored desserts for a while now. I first started experimenting with what's always been available to me, namely rose petal jam and rose water. Unfortunately, they did not really work. So I started searching for rose petal paste and rose extracts on the Internet, but unbeknowest to me, what I needed was much closer than I thought. A day before we left for our summer vacation, we were invited by a Greek-American friend of ours for dinner. She served us this thick rose syrup mixed with Seltzer. It was a little too intense as a cooler, but I immediately knew that it would do great to flavor and color my desserts rose. After we came back home, I acquired my own bottle of rose syrup from a little Middle Eastern market in New Jersey.

My first experiment was rose ice cream. I had to eliminate a few recipes with exotic ingredients which I thought might distract from roses. Finally, I decided on this egullet recipe and made a half batch as a trial. I did not use rose petals because I did not have them available at the time, and I omitted lemon zest and vanilla because I did not think that they were necessary.

While I was at it, I mixed another half batch of ice cream base (1 c milk, 1/2 c cream and 1/2 c sugar) using the same recipe and infused it with dried lavender flowers. I let the mixture reduce a little so I ended up with less ice cream but the consistency was thick enough to be served directly from the ice cream maker after it was churned. And how did it taste? I used lavender soap and perfume in the past, but this was the first time I used it in a recipe. The ice cream had an unmistakable lavender aroma and taste, and although it was delicious, I had this "Oops, did I leave the container soapy?" feeling at first bite. I guess I'll get used to it. I still have some lavender left, and I am planning to make lavender sugar with it. There should be a lavender-apple tart recipe in one of my older cookbooks, too.

On the other hand, I am already thinking of what rosy delight to make next. Rose macarons, rose buttercream, rose panna cotta... The list goes on and on...