The orange blossoms are nearly spent now, the courtyard awash in a cascade of yellowing petals, the pungent aroma lingering, slowly stealing up through the decay. When inhalation isn't enough to sate the senses, it's time to move on to ingestion. Fortunately such desire isn't limited to the short lifespan of orange blossoms, a fragrant bottle of orange blossom water will do nicely (my favorite is from Mymoune).
This ice cream is perfect for spring, before desire for the sharper, crisper tastes of summer prevails. Heady, but delicate enough not to overpower. Quite simply, a spoonful of springtime.
Orange Blossom Ice Cream
2 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons orange blossom water (or to taste)
8 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the milk, 3/4 cup of the sugar, and the heavy cream and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
2. Meanwhile, whisk together the egg yolks and the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar. Remove the milk mixture from the heat and add a little to the egg yolk mixture to warm it, whisking constantly to keep the yolks from curdling. Pour the egg yolk mixture into the hot milk mixture, whisking the milk constantly as your pour.
3. Return the custard to the stove and cook it over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until it thickens enough to coat the back of the spoon, about 5 minutes. Remove the custard from the heat and pour it through a sieve, into a bowl. Let cool completely.
4. Stir in vanilla extract and orange blossom water. Chill until thoroughly cold, at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
5. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacter's directions.