Ever tasted sorghum? Know what it is? It’s made from extracting syrup from stalks of sorghum grass, which incidentally is one of the five top cereal grains in the world along with wheat, oats, corn and barley. To me, it’s kind of like a cross between molasses and something malted with maybe a tinge of maple thrown in for fun. It’s magnificent, but a really specific sweetener. You want to know what you’re pairing it with before you go willy nilly drizzling it all over someone’s waffles. I love to use it for bacon-curing in place of maple just to spice things up. I’ve been dreaming about it in ice cream for quite some time, but couldn’t quite come up with the right combo- until now. I was walking through the garden with my shears on the hunt for some oregano when I noticed my culinary lavender was blooming earlier than usual this year.
Coincidentally, I’ve been dreaming of lavender ice cream all winter long, so I trained my shears on the lavender and promptly forgot the oregano I was originally after. I brought in the lavender and laboriously snipped up the buds- I think a mere quarter cup took me ten minutes! Then I steeped it in warmed milk for an hour while I consulted David Lebovitz’ Perfect Scoop for an idea springboard.
I changed things up quite a bit from his suggested lavender recipe, not because he isn’t the master, I love his original but wanted to add a new dimension. I also never think he adds enough eggs. I like my custard so creamy and thick it holds up even when it melts a little, so I adjust accordingly. Once I had swirled in lavender-laced sorghum and set my custard to chill, I dreamed up a shortbread peppered with lavender and mint with which to lap up the ice cream. The shortbreads came out tasting surprisingly similar to Mexican wedding cookies, an observation I’ve never made in such a biscuit.
I served the finished dessert just as the clouds broke and the sun who has been mighty elusive this spring graced us with a few moments of his body heat. It was perfect timing, having a little bit of pretend summer by which to eat real, really good ice cream. I’ve made a little pact with myself that I won’t make any more ice cream until summer officially rears her hot head, so if anyone has any clout with the weather gods, please make it happen- I’m already jonesing for gelato.