I have been a follower of Alton Brown's for years and years (and years and years...), and too many years ago to count, he showed his chocolate ice cream recipe, and it looked amazing.
Then I made it, and confirmed that it is, in fact, amazing. It is far from being low calorie, but it is so smooth and creamy, I don't even care. If you're looking for his original recipe, you can find it here.
I had only made this chocolate ice cream one time before, but it the memory of it lived strongly in my food memory.
If you don't have/can't find any lavender, make this just for the chocolate ice cream alone. You won't be sorry.
1 Tbs dried lavender buds (make sure it is food grade when you buy it!)
Put the lavender and cocoa powder into a medium sized sauce pan. Whisk in 1 C of the half and half, and once the cocoa powder has been mixed in, add in the rest of the half and half, and the heavy cream. The cocoa powder will fight you for a little bit, for some reason; it doesn't like to be mixed into liquid.
Once it is all mixed in, let this come up to a bare simmer over medium low heat; this will take a few minutes, so make sure to give it a stir every so often, because you don't want the dairy to burn.
While you're waiting on the chocolate/dairy/lavender mixture to come up to a simmer, get your egg yolks together (*Alton Brown's recipe uses 9 yolks, I cut this down to 6, but if you want to use 9, it will only add to the creaminess!!). It's a silly thing to be upset about, but I was a little sad that two of my yolks broke. I love it when I'm able to have whole yolks looking at me...looks like a pretty yellow flower. Silly, I know.
You can see bubble barely beginning to form around the outside ring of the chocolate base. This was as hot as I wanted this to get.
Again, as I was waiting for the base to come up to a simmer, lightly beat the yolks together, on medium speed, for just a minute or two. Once the yolks are lightly beaten, add in the granulated sugar slowly, with the mixer running on medium speed, until the yolks and sugar have thickened, and turned into a light lemon color.
Now that the yolks and sugar are ready, very slowly add in the hot chocolate/lavender/dairy mixture in, one cup at a time, with the whisk running on medium speed. This is called tempering your eggs, so that they don't scramble when you add in the hot liquid. Add about 1/3 of the hot milk to your eggs. Once your eggs have heated up, pour all of that back into your sauce pan.
Heat this over medium heat again, until the mixture thickens slightly, and registers 175* on a thermometer. If you don't have a thermometer, this only takes about 3 minutes. Not long at all.
Once your base has reached 175*, pour it through a fine mesh sieve set up on a medium/large bowl, so that any solids (any eggs that may have scrambled get caught, or any solid chunks of cocoa powder don't go into your final ice cream, or any bits of lavender...you get the idea) don't affect the end result of your ice cream.
Let this rest for 30 minutes, to cool off, then stir in your vanilla (**Again, Alton Brown uses 2 tsp of vanilla extract; I just used 1 tsp). A skin may form on top of the ice cream base while it is cooling; take a spoon and scoop it out. No big deal.
Once the vanilla has been added, cover this with plastic wrap (as always, making sure to press the plastic wrap down on top of the ice cream base, so a skin doesn't form), and pop it into the fridge overnight. This really allows the flavors to meld together beautifully. The next morning, take your bowl out, remove the plastic wrap, and churn according to your ice cream machine's directions. This ran in my machine for about 18 minutes.
Pour the finished ice cream out into a plastic container, cover with plastic wrap (again, pressing the plastic wrap down so that ice crystals don't form on top of the ice cream as it freezes), and pop it into the freezer for at least 4 hours, to freeze all of the way through. Dish up, and try not to eat the whole thing in one sitting....although, if you do, I won't tell anyone...