Have you ever tasted culinary lavender ice cream? Lavender is a versatile herb for cooking. In upscale restaurants, fresh edible flowers are served for flavor enhancement, scent, and food appearance.European gelato stands sometimes offer lavender frozen desserts. Here’s how to make them yourself.
When was the last time you and your children baked together making lavender ricotta cheese cake or frozen desserts using organic edible flower petals and plant extracts? Here’s how to cook with your children using edible flowers for desserts.
Use lavender honey instead of sugar when you make lavender frozen desserts or cheesecakes. Here’s how to make lavender frozen desserts or rose ice cream using rose-petal extract. Or make nutty spiced oat and rice-based frozen desserts.
When using lavender for cooking, baking, or ice cream, use any of these three species of lavendula lavender: Angustifolia, intermedia, latifolia species are all edible. Also check out the recipe, “Lavender Ice Cream: Edible Flowers.” It’s at the “Cooking for Two” site, at About.com. Buy your edible, food-grade lavender at herb stores or gourmet kitchen shops that sell dried, edible flowers that have been grown for culinary uses. You can buy dried, edible lavender from the UK online at the Daisy gifts site.
Or see the lavender ricotta cheese cake recipe that also uses crystallized violets to decorate the cake. Check it out at the Cafe Nilson site. The recipe also uses lavender buds, lavender honey, and amaretto. See the Cooking with Edible Flowers site for more recipes. Check out savory lavender recipes are this site.
Always use culinary lavender flowers (food grade), not the plants treated with pesticides in nurseries. An excellent recipe for lavender sorbet is on the Lavender Sorbet site. The secret to making a soft sorbet is to add two tablespoons of vodka to your liquid mixture. When cooking with your kids, instead of using vodka use plant extract flavoring such as lemon juice, lime juice, peppermint, vanilla, or oil-based instead of alcohol-based almond flavoring. When cooking with adults, you can add the vodka and lemon juice after you cook the sugar, water, and culinary lavender flowers.
Where do you buy culinary-grade, organic dried flowers? Seabreeze Organic Farms of San Diego, CA delivers organically grown fresh edible flowers overnight. Also you can buy organically-grown dried edible flowers such as calendula, rose petals, lavender buds, and hibiscus from online resources such as Herbs by Diane and Mountain Rose Herbs.
If you don’t use sugar, substitute another sweetener such as honey, stevia, or fruit juice concentrate. See the recipe for lavender sorbet at the site. There’s also a recipe for lavender tea cakes. Check out these two sites for lavender recipes: Lavender Sorbet and Lavender Tea Cookies.
Culinary lavender is a popular herb that’s edible. In Europe it’s used in ice creams that are colored lavender as well by the use of pureed blueberries, sometimes blended with raspberries. Edible species of flowers, lemon blossoms, and certain types of leaves can be used fresh, and both buds and stems can be used dried.
Lavender is a member of the mint family. It’s an herb close to and can be blended with rosemary, sage, and thyme. In savory foods rather than in sweetened ice cream or frozen desserts, use lavender with fennel, oregano, rosemary, thyme, and sage. Using lavender in frozen desserts and ice cream goes well with blueberry juice as food coloring. Mix blueberries and red fruit to create the lavender color when making lavender ice creams and nondairy frozen desserts.
Let’s walk down the memory lane of exotic non-dairy frozen desserts. It’s fragrant milk-free ice cream time. And that includes frozen desserts, scented with the edible ‘perfumes’ of flower petal water extract from roses, orange blossoms, including cooked lemon blossom petals in the Grecian style. Here’s how to make these desserts. Your nondairy versions may use sesame seed paste or almond milk, for example, or these other alternatives to dairy products such as grain milks and a variety of nut milks.
Would you like to eat cactus-flavored ice cream, carrot ginger ice cream, saffron and turmeric-ginger-cloves sorbet, green tea-flavored frozen dessert, mango, carrot, kiwi, and coconut sorbet or lavender ice cream? How about some guava ice cream, or pomegranate frozen desserts?
All you have to do is add cactus juice and some pureed or finely-chopped cooked or softened to the chew cactus. Or flavor ice cream with edible lavender puree and color, or fresh pomegrante juice to your frozen desserts or ice cream.
Below are some tips on how to make fragrant, ‘perfumed’ ice creams and other frozen desserts from scratch with milk altenatives, nuts, fruits, and spices. Try combinations such as walnuts and fresh ground ginger, the ground spice, or crystallized ginger.
How about clove ice cream made with a pinch of cloves and cinammon, allspice and cardamom? Or try fragrant orange blossom water, rose water extract or saffron ice cream with walnuts or pistachios?
In Iran, for example, ice cream sold on the street is vanilla with saffron flavoring, rose water extract or orange blossom water, and pistachio nuts. In the Levant, rose petal water extract is used to flavor ice cream. And in Greece, lemon ice cream and sorbets are served with cooked lemon blossom petals sweetened with honey and lemon juice and put in jars.
Italy serves lavender and hibiscus gelato from street vendors. If a flower petal is edible, it’s fragrant, ‘perfumed’ petals may be eaten and the water extracted to flavor ice creams and frozen desserts.
For nondairy “ice cream/ice crème” or technically, “frozen desserts” made with ‘oat’ milk, almond milk, hazelnut milk, sesame paste milk, walnut-pecan-cashew-roasted peanut butter milk, or rice milk that you make yourself as the base. First you start by the following steps:
Step 1: Vegan Frozen Desserts Look Like Ice Cream In A Graham Cracker Or Crushed Cookie Pie Shell
Here is the standard Frozen Dessert “Ice Crème” Base:
2 cups of rice, nut, or oat milk… You also can use soy milk, grain-based milk, almond milk, cashew nut milk, and most types of nut or sesame seed paste ‘milks,’ or if you’re lacto-ovo-vegetarian, try low-fat goat milk.
3 tablespoons of rice flour or corn starch. Rice flour is healthier for those allergic to corn products.
¼ cup orange blossom (not clover) honey (or a banana and peeled apple for sweetener).
1 pint whipped low-fat tofu with a little juice added, or thick rice or oat milk that has been left overnight in the refrigerator and thickened to a pudding consistency. You can still use the standard one pint of heavy whipping cream if you want all that fat and taste, but I prefer a non-fat substitute, such as whipped skim milk or tofu. The authentic Mediterranean style uses heavy whipping cream.
Dissolve the rice flour or cornstarch in 1/2 cup of grain (rice or oat), almond, sesame, cashew, hazelnut, pecan, peanut butter, or soy milk. Or mix the nut, seed, and grain milks with or without the soy milk. Heat the remaining ‘milk,’ and honey to a little below simmer. Stirring constantly, add milk and rice flour mixture in a thin stream.
Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens to pudding consistency. Add flavoring of your choice–rose or orange petal water, mint extract, vanilla, fresh ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg (just a pinch), cloves, or crème de menthe–actually your choice in flavoring.
If ¼ cup of honey or other sweetener isn’t sweet enough for you, add a banana or peeled apple to the blender to increase sweetness. I prefer the orange blossom or rose petal extract water with a ¼ cup of brown rice syrup or just a banana and an apple for sweetening strength.
Stir in heavy cream consistency whipped tofu or thickened rice milk to a pudding consistency. Or use any other healthy whipped topping that looks like the consistency of non-fat whipped skim milk, whipped cream. A nondairy alternative to heavy cream is whipped tofu such as a healthy, lower fat, non-dairy topping.
Chill and freeze in a 2-quart ice cream freezer. An alternative method is to whip the cream or tofu first and then fold the whipped topping into the custard base. Freeze in your regular freezer compartment.
For Turkish coffee ice cream or Mocha-Apricot Cognac Ice Cream of Alexandria, Egypt, add 1/4 cup canned apricot nectar, 1/8th to 1/4 cup of crème de cacao, and 1/8 cup of cognac. Experiment with any of the flavor combinations mentioned here.
If you want ice cream texture in an Alexandrian parfait, whip ½ pint of crème, dairy heavy cream, or low-fat non-dairy crème, and blend in 1 tablespoon of Greek Ouzo, apricot brandy, cherry brandy, coffee liqueur, and kirsch blending with 2 tablespoons each of cold Turkish coffee, cognac, crème de cacao, and ½ cup of orange blossom honey.
After removing dasher and before curing the oat or rice frozen dessert, swirl this mixture through, then set up the freezer for curing for an hour. Serve flambé or taste the contrast of the ice cream with a bowl of heated canned or poached apricot halves for a royal topping of Alexandria, fit for pharaohs and their progeny. Serve the frozen dessert in a pie of graham cracker crust to keep it from melting and oozing on the table during a party.
Cook a cup of oatmeal in two cups of water and blend it into a smooth crème in a blender as you add a banana. Blend the whole mixture to a creamy liquid. Another base is made by cooking one cup of brown rice and five cups of water for fifteen minutes. Then blend that mixture to a creamy base (in a blender) as you add your flavoring–vanilla, banana, lemon, carob, and almond extract, orange or rose blossom extract, mint extract, cinnamon, or any other flavoring.
Step 2: Varying Your Vegan Milk Base.
Vegan vegetarians may use oat milk, rice milk, soy milk, or almond milk instead of milk, eggs, or animal protein. Along the Silk Road in medieval times, recipes called for fermented mare’s milk. To suit the tastes of vegans/vegetarians, I recommend soy milk, almond milk, rice milk, walnut-pecan-sesame seed paste milk, or oat milk (made from blending cooked oatmeal with water to a milky consistency).
The Central Asian base for the ice cream was not cow’s milk, but mare’s milk. Middle Easterners and South Caucasus Mts. Dwellers use goat’s milk. Finland uses vegetarian milk bases made from grain as does Sweden–with ‘oat’milk made from cooking a cup of oatmeal in four cups of water and running the liquid through your blender. Soy is used in the Far East, especially in China and Japan. As a vegetarian, I highly recommend home-made unsweetened almond, rice, and oat milk.
When making custard, you can use frozen custard to form the base for frozen desserts that look and taste like ice cream or thick smoothies you eat with a spoon. Vegans may use rice milk, almond milk, sesame seed paste (tahini), soy milk, or oat milk as they do in Finland. Sweden uses oat milk.
Rice milk is made from boiling a handful of nutritious brown rice in twice the amount of water you use for making cooked rice–about 1 cup of rice to 4 cups of water and blending it until liquefied in a blender. Let cook, add water if too thick, to a consistency of milk.
The same is done with oat meal–about 1 cup of oatmeal to 4 cups of water. I start with one cup of oatmeal to two cups of water and thin it as it cooks. Then I blend it in my blender until liquefied and the consistency of milk.
With almond milk, soak almonds overnight in the refrigerator. Then liquefy in your blender a cup of blanched (peeled) almonds. To blanch, heat the raw almonds to boiling. Let cool, and peel off skin of almonds. Use the shiny white almonds with water in your blender to liquefy and make almond milk.
These ‘milks’ may be used for making frozen vegetarian desserts. The milk can be made from virtually any grain cooked in water and blended the a milky consistency, like thick cream before other flavoring is added along with nuts, sweetener, such as brown rice syrup, apple juice concentrate, maple syrup, honey, a banana, fruit concentrate, amizake, or anything you want to sweeten it with that’s healthy for your individual body.
Step 3: Adding Flavorings and Scents from Edible Fragrant Flower Petals.
Add rose-petal water or orange blossom water to perfume ice cream. It’s found in health food stores and imported gourmet stores, especially in Middle East-style grocery stores, and usually comes from Lebanon or Greece. On the Internet, you can find groceries that stock Middle Eastern and Central Asian, Armenian, and Iranian or Indian foods. Most Lebanese restaurants have bottles of orange blossom and rose petal water to flavor desserts.
Ask where you can buy some at your local Middle East grocery. Some supermarkets also carry ethnic foods. Serve frozen custard base as you would serve “ice cream”–over almond-flavored nut butter cookies seeped with orange blossom petals. Rose petal water is drenched over semi-frozen rice pudding and cinnamon.
Frozen desserts may be served with the crunchiness of pine nuts sautéed in olive oil with cinnamon and orange blossom honey. Often blazing hot stewed apricots are dribbled over the frozen desserts.
Step 4: Vary Flavoring and Condiments to Frozen Desserts
Exotic, fragrant frozen desserts are a composite of crushed-clove ice cream or nondairy ice crème, pistachios, walnuts, and cinnamon. Historically, to make the ice cream, ice was carried down from snow-covered mountains to freeze ices and sherbets.
Today, when you make exotic ice creams or crèmes, you place your ice cream base or milk thickened with rice in a pie crust of crushed graham crackers. Flavors vary from saffron and sesame seed paste with orange blossom honey to rose or orange blossom water, to cactus and lavender, or pomegranate and cooked lemon flower petals.
In Asia, ginger, saffron, and carrot ice creams are familiar tastes. Make your own carrot ice cream with carrot juice and flavor with ginger, honey, and cashews, walnuts, saffron, and sunflower seeds. Date sugar is sometimes used to sweeten ice cream and frozen desserts in the Levant.
Make a crust for ice cream pies from akmak which is Armenian and Black Sea Bread popular in Crete, Armenia, Egypt, Turkey, and the Middle East. It can be made as a honey-sweetened pita bread, toasted and crumbled into crumbs. Or you can use a graham cracker crust.
The old way using akmak, was to crumble stale or toasted break into crumbs and drench the crumbs in honey and orange flower water. This produced a crunch in the ice cream and a crust or bed for the ice cream to lie on while it froze in a pie plate surrounded by a bucket of ice.
Traditionally, in the cold reaches of the high Caucasus Mountains and along the Silk Road in Central Asia, edible ice was found in the early winters and at high elevations. Spices and saffron were added to frozen desserts as well as cooked rice and raisins. In some countries, you find ice cream blended with rice pudding to which spices are added such as cloves.
Step 5: Varying Nuts And Spices To Create Perfumed Or Scented Frozen Desserts.
Exotic ice creams and other frozen desserts often are flavored with ginger and walnuts. Or flavor your frozen desserts with scents of cinnamon, cloves, pistachios, walnuts, and rose petals being distilled for rose water. In the Mediterranean areas, the Middle East, and parts of South Asia, rose water flavors ice cream, as do orange blossom petal water, and other edible flower extracts used in food.
Rose water extract from petals that comes in bottled waters may be used frequently in a variety of foods and desserts.You can use other extracts such as peppermint or almond, rum, or vanilla.
Step 6: Using Flower Water Extracts or Sesame Seed Paste To Create The Fragrance
Middle East ice cream uses orange and rose flower water. In the Middle East, rice milk ice cream is flavored with crushed sesame seed paste liquefied to a consistency of paste. It’s called tahini and may be bought in most health food stores and Middle Eastern-style groceries and in most natural food grocery stores today as well as in many upscale and most general supermarkets.
You can make your own tahini by putting hulled sesame seeds and water with a little sesame oil in a blender and blending the mixture to a consistency of paste. Mix with honey and you have a candy-type spread for crackers, pancakes, or toast. You add the sesame seed paste to the ice cream base and top with ginger and walnuts or cinnamon and honey.
Tahini (sesame seed paste) is made by putting ½ cup of sesame seeds, a cup of cool water, and ¼ cup of sesame seed oil or extra virgin olive oil in a blender to create a puree the consistency of mayonnaise, milky paste, or other thick, spreadable sandwich spread consistency.
Various ice cream flavors of the Middle East include orange, zest of lime, lemon, and orange in sherbet or frozen desserts with ginger and walnuts topped with cinnamon. Exotic ice creams also are made with pistachio nuts and orange blossom water whisked into in a base of vanilla ice cream. Your goal is to create a thick, perfumed ice cream or nondairy frozen dessert.
Step 7: Serve Ice Cream with Hot Herbal Teas or Decaffeinated Green Tea
If you tolerate caffeine well, you may choose to serve exotic ice cream alongside thick, sweet Turkish coffee. Or if caffeine is not good for your individual genetic makeup, serve various decaffeinated green teas and caffeine-free herbal infusions, such as ginger or blueberry tea. The idea is to take a bite of the frozen dessert followed by a sip of the hot drink.
For those able to tolerate the strong caffeine in espresso or any of the Turkish or Greek coffees, the Turkish coffee you may find in ethnic groceries usually is ground by hand from a blend imported from Lebanon, then powdered in a stone pestle with date sugar and cinnamon and added to orange flower or rose water. The mixture is then brought to a boil in a long-handled brass pot.
It’s served, still foaming, to the ice cream customers in the traditional tiny china cups. Some was used in the recipes for Turkish Coffee Ice Cream. You can blend coffee and chocolate into frozen desserts to create a bittersweet chocolate mocha flavor.
Another alternative is to use crème de menthe or food-grade, edible brands of peppermint oil or peppermint extract mixed with chocolate syrup or chocolate shavings. Into the coffee ice cream, you also may blend shelled pistachios, almonds, pecans, cashews, sautéed to light-brown hue pine nuts, or walnuts dipped in cinnamon.
Step 8: Spicing and Texturing Ice Cream or other Frozen Desserts
Spiced ice cream is flavored with pistachio nuts, cinnamon, and cinnamon or walnuts, ginger, almonds, and orange brandy flavoring. It’s placed in a pie shell and dotted with bits of dates in the Middle East and berries in the steppes of Central Asia.
Asian and Middle Eastern frozen desserts, smoothies, and ice creams (I call them nice crèmes) are spiced and scented. These frozen desserts often are topped with green crushed pistachio nuts and also with with cinnamon and chopped walnuts.
The desserts may be sweetened with honey or syrup. Also frozen desserts may use ginger and walnuts, pine nuts, or other nuts local to the various Middle Eastern, South Asian, Mediterranean, Far Eastern, and Central Asian locations.
Step 9: Texture of Cracked Wheat and Nuts in the Frozen Dessert
Some of the texture and flavor delights include cracked wheat, cinnamon, rose petal, orange blossom, and herb or flower flavors with crushed seeds, walnuts, or almonds, pine nuts, and pistachio nuts. The pine nuts (pignola nuts) are browned lightly in hot olive oil, cooled, and added to the ice cream. The ice cream should be crunchy, fragrant, spiced, and not-too-sweet.
Step 10: Perfuming Ice Cream or Frozen Desserts with Liquid Flower Essence
To achieve a fragrance of orange blossoms, use orange blossom honey and orange blossom essence (water extracted from distilling or boiling orange blossom petals) instead of clover honey. Orange blossom honey has a perfumed citrus scent to it.
Ice cream (or nondairy frozen desserts) that you make yourself do not have to be real ice cream heavy with the required butterfat content. Try alternatives to the whipped fat of cow’s milk and cream. Don’t shock your thyroid and pancreas with white sugar or added artificial flavoring and coloring.
Instead make yourself a diet-conscious frozen dessert such as a light custard base with or without eggs. You can use egg whites instead of yolks and made a meringue. Or emphasize vegan custard bases by blending tofu and/or soy milk together to use as a liquid base to make your frozen dessert.
Whatever you use—rice, almond, or oat milk—or other ingredients, you’ll use a milky-hued base to freeze your dessert to a smoothie-like consistency. The photo on the right shows the popularity of carrot frozen desserts in Japan. Also, see my other Examiner article on how to make nondairy coconut-pineapple-carrot-almond-mango sherbet.
Create carrot nondairy frozen desserts from coconut-pineapple juice, carrots, and mangos. In a blender, puree mangos and carrots with coconut milk or coconut-pineapple juice. The pineapple juice has just the right tangy flavor when added to coconut juice. And it makes carrot pulp taste more like grated coconut.
Carrot-Coconut-Pineapple-Almond-Mango Frozen Dessert
As an alternative, you can substitute orange juice for pineapple juice. Mix carrots and orange juice, blend with a handful of almonds and freeze. But the taste of the coconut-pineapple juice with mangos gives this frozen dessert a special ambrosia flavor of the tropics. See my recipe, below.
1 to 2 cups of L&A brand coconut-pineapple juice or a similar tasting coconut-pineapple juice or blend and liquefy your own shredded coconut with fresh pineapples and 1/2 cup of water
1 cup of organic peeled baby carrots
½ cup of raw almonds
1 cup of frozen mango chunks
½ cup of shredded coconut (optional)
Blend everything together except the optional shredded coconut. Serve either as a smoothie or freeze in covered cups. Sprinkle with shredded coconut (optional). Serve as you would serve sherbet or a frozen smoothie.
You can add vanilla protein powder such as rice protein and make a thick shake and then freeze it in custard cups. Soy-milk, oat milk, almond milk, rice milk, or sesame seed paste-based ice cream with ginger and almonds or walnuts also may be served beside a deep soup bowl of steaming hot decaffeinated green tea. Adjust your food and desserts to your body’s genetic pattern and metabolism because we all experience food individually.
Resources: Lavender recipe sites
Lavender Creme Brulee