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Scooped: Lavender-Hyssop Ice Cream

[Photograph: Max Falkowitz]

Lavender is a surprisingly versatile dessert ingredient with a strong affinity to cream. It's a love-it-or-hate-it kind of herb, but the creaminess subdues its at-times overwhelming intensity. Hyssop has largely fallen out of Western culinary use, which is a shame given its long history dating back to ancient times. Fortunately it's increasingly common in gardens and at farmers' markets.

Though somewhat minty, it has a full-bodied, rounded flavor that makes mint look like toothpaste fodder by comparison. A whiff evokes wide-open meadows and bright summer days and tea sandwiches on the veranda.

If you can score some fresh hyssop, by all means use it, but this herb takes well to drying and the dried leaves have plenty of flavor. Both it and lavender pair beautifully with the complex sweetness of honey, so using that as our sweetener was a no-brainer. Honey also makes for a velvet-smooth texture.

Both herbs can become bitter if used too heavily or steeped for too long. While a bunch of mint leaves is best steeped for up to two hours, much smaller amounts of these herbs reach their optimum flavor after half an hour to forty five minutes. The process, however, is the same: bring your dairy to a bare simmer, stir in the herbs, kill the heat, and cover. Just be sure to strain them before tempering your eggs. With this technique in hand, there's very few ice cream flavors out of your reach.

About the authors:
Ethan Frisch is the chef and co-mastermind behind Guerrilla Ice Cream, the only ice cream company that looks to international political movements for inspiration and donates all of its profits. He's traveled around the world (30 countries, 5 continents) and worked as a pastry chef and line cook in some of NYC's great (and not so great) restaurants. He lives above a tofu factory in Manhattan's Chinatown.

Max Falkowitz writes Serious Eats' weekly Spice Hunting column. He's a proud native of Queens, New York, will do just about anything for a good cup of tea, and enjoys long walks down the aisles of Chinese groceries.

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