honey chamomile ice cream

I’m always amazed by how much a weekend away can do for your well-being. I feel very blessed and rejuvenated. And ready. I know I’ve said it once, but I have to say it again – Big Sur is magical.

We left the Bay Area and headed down to Big Sur on an overcast Saturday morning. Highway 1, even when enveloped in fog, always takes my breath away. The curves of the road, Bixby Bridge, the Pacific Ocean; it’s one of my favorite drives.

I’ve been mildly obsessed with Big Sur Bakery since I first laid eyes on their cookbook a few years back, so you can imagine my disappointment when we discovered upon arrival that it was closed for a private event. Who rents out an entire restaurant in Big Sur on a Saturday afternoon? Well, I ain’t one to gossip, but as it turns out, a certain Black Swan decided to get married in Big Sur the very weekend we were there. And I’m just guessing that might have had something to do with the bakery being closed. Not that this could ever be confirmed since every hotel and restaurant employee we crossed paths with was super tight-lipped about the event. We didn’t even know who got married until we got home. We just caught wind of a celebrity wedding while we were hanging out at our hotel.

Fortunately, we were able to have brunch at the Bakery before we headed home the following day. We were seated on their super cozy back patio, where we enjoyed the amazingly gorgeous weather along with a couple of pizzas, a burger, and a ginormous skillet baked pancake. It was the perfect place for our last Big Sur meal.

This ice cream was inspired by a recipe in The Big Sur Bakery Cookbook. The original recipe is for a honey chamomile ice cream terrine. I made the terrine last summer, and while it was delicious, it was almost too rich, even for me. But I loved the combination of chamomile and honey in a frozen treat and always meant to revisit it.

The opportunity finally presented itself the other day while I was looking for coconut milk ice cream recipes. I’m kinda sorta avoiding dairy and white sugar at the moment, so a coconut based ice cream sweetened with honey totally fit the bill. Then I remembered the honey-chamomile ice cream and ran with it. I couldn’t be more happy with the results. The ice cream still has a richness thanks to the coconut fattiness and the addition of egg yolks, and the chamomile and honey shine, even through the coconut milk. Add a few peach slices and maybe a drizzle of honey and you’ve got yourself some serious dessert.

Thank you, Big Sur!

honey chamomile ice cream

inspired by/adapted from The Big Sur Bakery Cookbook by Michelle and Philip Wojtowicz and Michael Gilson; and WholeFoodsMarket.com

serves 6-8

1/2 cup honey, plus more for drizzling (optional)

2 cans regular coconut milk

1/2 cup loose chamomile flowers

4 egg yolks

2 peaches

1 tablespoon sugar

Combine the coconut milk and honey in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat, add the chamomile flowers, and let it steep for 10 minutes. Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Discard the chamomile. Return the strained mixture to the saucepan.

Whisk the egg yolks in a large bowl until smooth. Bring the coconut milk mixture back to a boil, and slowly ladle the hot liquid into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Return the mixture to the pan and cook over very low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the liquid is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. Strain the liquid through a fine-mesh sieve one more time, and refrigerate until it is cold. Freeze the mixture in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions.

About 10 minutes before serving, slice the peaches and put them in a bowl. Sprinkle with sugar and let them macerate. Serve ice cream with peaches.