Hearing Natalie talk last night made my heart happy. She was clearly meant to be an author. And when she said to the crowd, "Sometimes I have to stop myself and remember I'm in the middle of a dream come true," it just made us love her even more.
One of the best parts of finally getting the opportunity to meet Natalie yesterday was that I have been tinkering with a very special flavor of ice cream since I read the book back in January. That flavor would be Blackberry Sunrise of course. Well I couldn't meet her for the first time and NOT bring her my manifestation of the flavor she imagined. If you've read the book you know what a very special flavor Blackberry Sunrise is to the story: it's a flavor that conjures up memories. Sometimes they're happy memories and sometimes they're sad, depending on the sweetness of the blackberries in the batch you happen to be eating. It's also a flavor the protagonist, Felicity Pickle, has a difficult time mustering up the courage to try.
When I came to the part of the story that talks about how Blackberry Sunrise came to be, I immediately had a vision for how to make it.
"[Abigail] was kin to the Smiths -- so she knew all sorts of wild recipes -- cookies that gave people laughing fits, and punch that turned shy people feisty. Her most famous recipe had to do with memory; she baked homemade biscuits with blackberries and sugar stirred into the dough. Her blackberry biscuits helped people remember things; sometimes the memory was good and sometimes it was bad. but it needed to be remembered."
"Like the Blackberry Sunrise," I said, staring down at that infernal carton in Jonah's hands. The carton I refused to touch.
"Exactly," said Oliver. "That's where the idea for the ice cream came from."
Oliver continued, "The Honeycutts were older than most folks are when they had their baby, so they doted extra special on little Burl. He had a real creative soul, helped them name all the ice-cream flavors. Every year on Burl's birthday, his parents took him on a trail walk down by Snapdragon Pond. They'd sit on the banks beside the tall reeds and watch the sun creep higher and higher above these sleepy old mountains. One day, the sun turned the sky lavender and gray and then silver metallic. The morning glories fanned their petals. The wind blew ripples across the water. And Burl told his parents he'd never been happier. He said he wished every day could be a blackberry sunrise." (230)
Because the ice cream flavor was inspired by blackberry biscuits, I immediately knew I would try to stir some crumbled up biscuits into the ice cream base. And since the memory that inspired Blackberry Sunrise involved a lavender sky, I thought about the perfect ice cream base: Honey Lavender.
So this is a rough approximation of my version of Blackberry Sunrise (I'm very bad about measuring what can I say). Keep in mind, I make very small batches because it's only me and my husband in our house, and ice cream ends up going bad before we eat it all. I feel as if I haven't perfected this recipe yet, but it's my hope that someone else out there will also be inspired and make it better -- and if you do, please share it with me!
Beth's Vision of a Blackberry Sunrise
Special equipment needed: ice cream maker
- 2 cups half and half
- 2 egg yolks
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons dried, edible lavender flowers
- 1 carton fresh blackberries
- 1 biscuit or scone (I shamefully admit I bought a berry scone at Whole Foods for this because I am a terrible baker)
In a medium saucepan, heat the half and half, lavender, honey, and sugar until sugar is dissolved. Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks in a medium bowl until light yellow. Ladle some of the heated half and half mixture into the egg yolks and whisk vigorously to temper. Then add the egg yolk mixture into the saucepan. Whisk constantly (if you don't it will surely curdle -- it's happened to me on more than one occasion) on medium heat until thickened. Allow mixture to cool a few hours in fridge before churning in the ice cream maker.
Before putting the base into the ice cream maker, strain out the lavender flowers (unless you want the added floral flavor, but enough has seeped into the mixture without the actual flowers in the base). Churn the ice cream for 15 minutes and come back and check on the consistency. When the ice cream is mostly set up, this is where you add in the crumbled up biscuit and blackberries.
The first time I made this, I used whole blackberries and it was a little too overly textural for me, especially with the biscuits, so the second time I made it, I put the blackberries in a saucepan with a little bit of water and simmered them down to sort of a compote so I wasn't biting into giant pieces of blackberry. Depending on your preference, you could do either. The compote adds an extra step but makes for a smoother bite. The picture below is of my first attempt at Blackberry Sunrise where I just mixed whole blackberries into the ice cream.
Natalie tweeted a picture of the empty container this morning. I hope that means she liked it. :)