While not a prevalent flavor in the United States, rose is fairly common elsewhere. Across the Middle East, particularly Iran, it is used to flavor all manner of sweets. Ice cream is the only use of rose in food that I have found palatable. Rose candy tastes like grandma’s perfume to me, and rose scones just taste wrong. But the ice cream gives a nice rounded sweetness that is just right for such a delicate flavor. The rose petals themselves are not really potent enough to stand up to the amount of sugar and cream that ice cream requires, so it’s fleshed out with rose water.
Rose water can be found at most Middle Eastern grocery stores and at specialty stores. The potency of the rose water will vary from brand to brand, so you may want to start of by whisking in one teaspoon at a time until you are satisfied with the flavor. I used Nielson-Massey, which is pretty strong.
Rose petals should be unsprayed, or organic. The best would be from a friend or neighbor, as they would be the freshest. Otherwise try natural foods stores or a florist/nursery specializing in organic flowers.
Rose Petal Ice Cream
Using the method found in Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams
Makes about 1 quart
- 1 cup packed petals from organic or unsprayed roses (30g)
- 2 cups milk (475ml)
- 2/3 cup sugar (150g/5.5oz)
- 4 tsp corn or tapioca starch
- 1 tsp beet powder (optional—this will give it a nice light pink color)
- 3 tbs cream cheese, room temperature (1.5 oz/45g)
- pinch of salt
- 2 tbs corn or tapioca syrup (30ml)
- 1 1/4 cup heavy cream (300 ml)
- 2-4 tsp rose water (10-20ml)
- First, get your bowls ready. In a small bowl, whisk the corn or tapioca starch (and the beet powder if using) with 2 tablespoons of the milk until a smooth slurry is formed. In a medium bowl, whisk the cream cheese and salt until smooth. Fill a large bowl with ice and a small amount of cold water. Place a mesh sieve over an empty medium bowl.
- Coarsely chop the rose petals. In large saucepan, toss in the petals, the remaining milk, the cream, sugar, and corn or tapioca syrup. On medium-high heat, bring the mixture to a rolling boil. Set a timer for 4 minutes (timing is very important). After the four minutes, remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the slurry. Bring the mixture back to a boil and cook, stirring frequently, until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Pour the mixture through the sieve and press against the rose petals to extract as much milk as possible. Discard the petals.
- Ladle a bit of the hot milk into the cream cheese and whisk until smooth. Gradually whisk in the rest of the hot milk. Whisk in the rose water one teaspoon at a time, adjusting to taste.
- Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon freezer Ziplock bag and seal. Plunge this into the ice water bowl and knead gently until the mixture is well chilled. Churn according to your ice cream maker’s instructions. Spread into a shallow container, cover with plastic wrap, and seal with an air-tight lid. Freeze until firm, about 3 hours. This will keep in the freezer for up to two weeks.