NATCHITOCHES, La., 25 May 2017 ⏤ “The gardenias are blooming. I can almost imagine gardenia ice-cream.”
That post on a friend’s Facebook page got me thinking. Our own gardenias are in full bloom, and the smell is sweet and summery. I did a quick check online: Gardenia blossoms are edible.
Reassured that I wasn’t about to commit floral suicide, I went outside, picked a flower, washed it, and ate a couple of petals. The flavor was pleasant but hard to define. Sweet and summery.
So, time for an ice-cream experiment.
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 tsp vanilla
- Petals from three or four fresh gardenias (about 1 cup, loosely packed), NOT SPRAYED WITH PESTICIDE, thoroughly washed and checked for stowaways. If you use pesticide on your gardenias, get them from someone who doesn’t.
In a small saucepan, heat the cream, milk and gardenia petals over medium heat until just below boiling. Remove from heat and leave to sit for about 20 minutes. Test from time to time to see how you like the flavor. My gardenias produced a mild, almost citrus flavor with a hint of ginger, but there are different varieties. Some might be stronger. If you find the flavor a bit weak and want to enhance it, try adding a pinch or two of cardamom.
When the petals have infused their flavor into the cream, strain them out and set the cream aside.
In a metal bowl or the top of a double boiler, beat the sugar and egg yolks together until fluffy. Slowly whisk in the cream and vanilla, then heat over simmering water, stirring constantly, until the custard thickly coats the back of a spoon (180-185 degrees F, if you’re using a thermometer).
Remove immediately from the heat and put the bowl on ice, allow to cool a bit, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold.
Pour into your ice-cream maker and churn for 15-20 minutes, then freeze.
This recipe makes only a small amount of ice-cream, a bit over two cups. You can easily double it if you like. It’s best eaten fresh, so don’t plan on freezing it for days. It would be nice garnished with crystalized EDIBLE flower petals: gardenia, rose, or violet.
You can also use violet or rose petals instead of gardenia petals in the ice-cream.
Both are slightly sweet.