One of my first memories of ice cream (actually, one of my first memories, period) was prostrating myself before the cold case of a Chapel Hill, NC ice cream parlor called Francesca’s. My cousin and I bowed our heads and extended our arms in mock reverence, chanting “I worship strawberry, I love strawberry, I marry strawberry!”
I still love good strawberry ice cream, though I wouldn’t call it my favorite: My love of ice cream is too wide-ranging to choose just one. What hasn’t changed, though, is ice cream’s power to inspire in me goofy displays of unfettered excitement and devotion. Ice cream is my go-to celebration food, comfort food, stress food, reward food. I crave ice cream, often so fiercely that I will go to embarrassing lengths to get it. There’s something about that harmonious meeting of fat and sugar, the unctuous cold sweetness dissolving on my tongue: It scrambles my brain’s pleasure centers, stripping away logic, causing me to lose my relationship with reality ever-so-slightly.
I love ice cream flavors with nuts and pieces and chunks of all descriptions. I also love pure, simple flavors. Dense, firm, American-style ice cream with no eggs, rich frozen custards, smooth, slippery gelato: I like it all. For my latest ice cream experiment, I used one of my all-time favorite spices, coriander, combined with dried rose petals. I started with David Lebovitz’s vanilla ice cream as my base recipe, omitting the vanilla and infusing the milk with a generous tablespoon of toasted coriander and a small handful of dried rose petals.
The coriander flavor ended up being very pronounced (just how I wanted it) with bright notes of citrus and pine, and deep toasty underpinnings of earth and wood; the rose flavor was very subtle. I also added a teaspoon of Bulleit bourbon to prevent the ice cream from becoming too hard; next time, I’d use a neutral-flavored spirit, like vodka, or an orange liqueur like Cointreau, or – better still – a rose liqueur.
Although the ice cream’s good on its own, I’m planning to pair it with something – maybe an orange pound cake or some type of fruit crisp or tart.