Tea Time Ice Cream

August 1, 2012 § Leave a comment

I love ice cream. A lot. But my boyfriend loves ice cream more. He loves it so much that I have considered buying an ice cream lock to protect my ice cream. He seems to think that if I don’t eat a pint in one sitting, I don’t want it any more!

Despite the many pints of ice cream that have mysteriously gone missing from my freezer, or maybe because of all these pints, my boyfriend deserves some credit for this ice cream recipe. Specifically, he deserves credit for three things:

  1. He is the proud owner of the ice cream maker I use. We tried making ice cream a few times without an ice cream maker. This involved whisking the ice cream every hour during the freezing process to minimize the formation of ice crystals. The whisking method led to decent, but not incredible, ice cream. I’ve also read that you can use a blender or food processor once or twice during freezing in instead of whisking, but I haven’t tried. Now that I have access to an ice cream maker, I’m not sure I ever will…
  2. He made a similar ice cream flavor last winter, which was a huge hit with everyone who tried it!
  3. Like I said, he loves ice cream! So he is always eager to try new flavors with me!

The basic idea behind this ice cream is a tea party! Of course, you have the tea. You also need a suitable cookie, in this case shortbread! And finally, I added a little lavender from my garden as a twist. I’m pretty sure you could substitute this ice cream for an afternoon tea or coffee any day, as the earl grey definitely packs a little caffeine punch!

Earl Grey Lavender Ice Cream (This recipe isn’t adapted from a single source, but rather from months of playing around with different ice cream recipes.)

Makes 2+ pints ice cream


  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 cups 2% milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 4 bags earl grey tea
  • 1 heaping tablespoon fresh lavender, or 1 scant tablespoon dried lavender (dried herbs are more potent), plus more for garnish*
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup shortbread, broken into pieces

* If you are using fresh lavender, wash the stems and then and remove the lavender buds. Make sure to remove any dead flowers and bits of stem. Don’t worry if you add a few flowers or small stem peices to the custard, as you will be straining it, but make sure any lavender garnish is buds only! If you are using dried lavender, this cleaning process has probably been done for you.

If you are using an ice cream maker that requires advanced freezing, the first step in your ice cream making endeavor is to make sure your ice cream maker is in the freezer! I can’t count the number of times I’ve wanted to make ice cream, but realized my ice cream maker wasn’t frozen. Check your specific model for specific freezing requirements – mine requires about 24 hours in the freezer, and I’ve found it works best when I freeze it at -6º F or lower.

Once your ice cream maker is frozen and you are ready to get started, prepare an ice bath. Fill a large bowl with ice and water, and place a medium sized bowl inside of the ice bath. The ice-water level should be high enough to match the volume of custard you will have, but not so high that it might splash into your inner bowl.

Set out a fine mesh strainer. If you have a cooking thermometer, set that out also. The thermometer makes things easier, but isn’t essential, so don’t worry if you don’t have one.

The first step in this ice cream is to steep the tea and lavender. Combine heavy whipping cream and 2% milk in a medium saucepan. Add 4 earl grey tea bags, hanging strings over edge of saucepan. Add lavender. You can add it directly to the saucepan, as you will strain the custard after heating. Bring to a gentle simmer, and then remove from heat. Let the tea and lavender steep for approximately 15 minutes. The earl grey and lavender flavors will continue to develop even after the steeping process is over, so be sure not to steep for too long.

After 15 minutes, pass the milk mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a medium bowl. Discard tea and lavender, return strained milk mixture to saucepan, and set aside for a moment.

Whisk the eggs, egg yolks and sugar in a medium bowl. Add to the cream and milk mixture and whisk to blend. Add the honey directly to the saucepan, and whisk again. The honey and sugar will continue to dissolve as you heat the the mixture.

Return saucepan to stove over medium heat. Stirring constantly, continue to heat until custard thickens and temperature reaches 170º. If you don’t have a thermometer, continue to heat until custard is thick enough to coat the back of a metal spoon.

Remove from heat. Pour through mesh strainer into the inner, dry bowl that is sitting in the ice bath. Leave the custard in the ice bath until it is room temperature or cooler, stirring frequently.

Once the custard has cooled, stir in vanilla. Cover and place in refrigerator. Leave custard in the refrigerator for at least two hours, and preferably overnight. The longer you refrigerate, the better the ice cream will be!

Remove from fridge, and churn according to your ice cream maker’s instructions! When the ice cream is almost frozen, add the shortbread pieces, and then continue to churn until done. You may serve the ice cream immediately, or freeze for future use! Garnish with a few lavender buds before serving if desired.


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