Lavender, Honey and Vanilla Custard

by Jenn on April 27, 2009

in Desserts,Gluten Free

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Lavender is quite possibly my favorite flower in the world.   It is so fresh and sweet smelling, the very scent of it just makes all my troubles disappear.  I know flowers tend to be an iffy food choice for a lot of people, but believe me, lavender is wonderful in food.  We bought lots of dried lavender buds when we I went crazy buying a gazillion other herbs and spices from Atlantic Spice Co.  I decided to make some custard that I could take to work to have a little 10 minutes of heaven during my workday :)  One of the more recent times my husband and I went out to eat, we were served a lavender and vanilla bean creme brulee, and that was where I got the idea to try to make this.

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This recipe was adapted from this Suite101 article on herbal desserts.

Ingredients (serves 3 small portions):
2 tbs. lavender buds, crushed and chopped
2 cups millk (I used 2%)
2 tbs. arrowroot powder (or cornstarch)
2 tbs. water
1/4 cup honey (I use local raw honey, cause it’s so much better than storebought stuff)
5 egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla

Directions:
1. Add lavender and milk to a pan.  Bring to a simmer (just below medium worked well here), and stir every couple minutes for about half an hour.  This gives time for the lavender to diffuse into the milk.*
2. Mix arrowroot powder and water together, then whisk into the milk.
3. Whisk in the honey
4. Lightly beat the egg yolks in a small bowl and then slowly pour into the custard mixture, whisking all the while.  You don’t want the eggs to scramble, so if your heat is too high, you may need to turn it down here.
5. Bring to a simmer again, whisking constantly, for about 5 min.  It will really start to thicken.
6. Remove from heat and add in your vanilla, and pour into ramekins (or sealable containers that are good for taking to work).  Either cover with seran wrap or place lid on and set in fridge for a few hours (I made this at night so that I could take it with me the next morning).
7. To serve, remove cover, and eat.

*Note – the original recipe says to strain out the lavender buds.  I left them in.  When I had the creme brulee they were left in, and I loved it.  If you don’t want quite so potent a flavor, or if you want a smoother consistency to your custard, then definitely strain them out.

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I still cannot figure out how to not get air bubbles in the custard.  I tap the bowl on the counter a few times before putting it in the fridge, and I still get bubbles, as you can see.  Any tricks here???

Normally I am not a fan of taking pictures in such evening light.  However, I love the look of the long shadows cast by the garnish of lavender buds here, it looks like they are floating above the custard because of it!

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Janet April 28, 2009 at 12:00 am

This looks SO good! We have a lot of lavender plants growing in our condo association….I may just have to try them in this!

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Chris April 28, 2009 at 12:20 am

This looks lovely. I have a ton of lavender buds I need to use up and will for sure give this a try.
Thanks!

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Erin Swing April 28, 2009 at 12:30 am

Beautiful picture!

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Kelsey April 28, 2009 at 1:04 am

Oh wow. I’m going to have to play around with this recipe. I’m thinking some of my vanilla sugar would be perfect as the crust on a creme brulee!

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Jenn April 28, 2009 at 1:16 am

Oh definitely try it as a creme brulee, the flavors are perfect for it!

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Girl Gone Domestic April 28, 2009 at 1:22 am

This looks super yummy! I must make it! Thanks for posting. And great photo too!

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joelen April 28, 2009 at 2:35 pm

Ooh this looks wonderful! The flavors all sound great together!

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lisaiscooking April 28, 2009 at 5:03 pm

This sounds fantastic! Love the use of lavender.

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Ariane April 28, 2009 at 7:30 pm

Add lavender buds to growing grocery list….

I wonder if this would work with soy milk? I have also seen recipes for custard where you push a layer of saran wrap directly onto the top…. Although I think making a creme brulee top would be tastier and cover the holes just fine!

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Jenn April 28, 2009 at 7:38 pm

@Ariane –
Hmm I don’t use soy milk, but I don’t see why not. The cornstarch (or arrowroot powder in my case) and the egg yolks are really what does all the work here – it might taste slightly different, but I imagine that it should still set…

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Kevin April 29, 2009 at 10:56 am

That custard sounds good. I am going to have to look for some lavender buds to try.

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Ariane April 30, 2009 at 7:40 pm

@ Kevin

You should be able to find lavendar buds in any decent sized store. I know the Sun Fresh back in Kansas City had it, and I am sure the Jungle Jim’s in Cincinnati would have them. Maybe try Trader Joe’s?

There is of course, the magic of the internet. :-)

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Sue May 4, 2009 at 1:09 pm

I think the bubble problem might be because of your agitation method. Try a simple stir with a wooden spoon rather than whisking. All you need to do is keep the custard from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Also, regarding the eggs… if you remove a little of the hot mixture from the pan and add it to the eggs before pouring the eggs into the hot mixture you can avoid the “scrambled egg” situation. You want to heat the eggs up a little with the hot mixture (bringing them closer in temp) before adding the eggs to the hot.

This sounds yummy!

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