In May the lilacs are in bloom and so fragrant, so the Catkin Kids and I decided to have a go at using these stunning edible flowers in recipes. Lilacs are plenty in May. You can get a variety of purples from lilacs, some say the colour affects the taste and the lighter colours tend to taste better. It is best to pick lilacs first thing in the morning, this is when they are most fragrant.
With all foraging, it's important to only take what you need and also where it is plentiful. It's also important you pick in a place allowed and not private land. We are lucky as we have some lilac trees in our garden.
Our plans were lilac ice cream and lilac cheesecake. The first step was to make a lilac syrup though, an ingredient used in both of the recipes.
The recipes here are:
Lilac Syrup Lilac Ice Cream
This wonderful liquid can be used in simple ways such as just added to water and lemonade for a refreshing floral drink. I can also tell you it tastes great in champagne!
Make some syrup and keep a bottle in the fridge and add to things as and when. Bottling the smell of lilacs is wonderful!
A cup of lilac flowers (loosely packed)
A cup of Sugar
Two cups of water
Add all ingredients to a pan and bring to the boil. Leave for 2 minutes and stir. Then leave to simmer for another 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the mixture in the pan for around 3-4 hours. When the time is up, pour into a sterilised/clean bottle. It's that simple!
Lilac Ice Cream
They decided we needed to make ice cream as they are trying to imagine it's summer. All our recipes are simple and can be done as a family without the need for specialist equipment. If you have an ice-cream churner I'm sure you can make even better ice cream, but we don't. Nor did we have an ice cream scoop - but we managed to borrow one!
1 1/2 cups double or whipping cream
3/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup white caster sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup of lilac flowers -not green bits!
2 tablespoons of lilac syrup (optional - see below recipe)
(maybe some frozen blueberries - see below)
Pick the lilacs. early in the morning works best for the stronger taste. Remove flowers from the stems and try to get no green bits. gently wash and dry on a towel.
In a pan add the sugar and milk and store whilst the sugar dissolves over medium heat. Then leave to cool slightly.
Add the cream to a bowl with the vanilla extra and whisk until the cream peaks (This takes a fair while - stick with it!)
Fold the sugar and milk mixture into the cream and add the flowers.
Add to a container - we used a plastic container.
Put in the fridge for 2 hours and then stir up again. Then freeze for around 3 hours. It's then ready to use!
Extra tip - lilacs don't always create a lovely lilac colour. Therefore you can use frozen some blueberries. We defrosted around 8 blueberries in a small bowl and then spooned the juice only into the ice cream mixture before freezing.
Lilac Cheese Cake
300 g Digestives
150 g Unsalted Butter
Cheesecake 1 and a half tubs of full-fat cream cheese (we used Philadelphia)
100 g Icing Sugar
1-2 tsp Vanilla Extract
300 ml Double Cream
100ml of Sour cream
1 tbsp Lemon Juice (optional)
1 tbsp of lilac syrup
1/2 cup of lilac flowers
6 Frozen Blueberries (optional)
Put the biscuits in a mixing bowl and crush with a rolling pin (this is lots of fun for destructive children). if you have a food processor you can use that - but where is the fun?
Melt the butter either on the hob or in the microwave and then stir into the biscuit mixture.
Get a cake tin and make sure it is greased or lined. Add the biscuit mixture and pack down tightly. Put in the oven at 180c for around 10 minutes, then take out and leave to cool.
For the Cheesecake
In a Large Bowl add your Cream Cheese, Icing Sugar, Sour Cream, Vanilla and Lemon Juice and lilac syrup and whisk till smooth. This doesn't take long.
Optional - Microwave your frozen blueberries for around 30 seconds and it will create a purple juice! Pour into your mixture (just the juice). This is if you want a slightly purple tinge to the cake. Lilacs don't tend to give the colour but do give the taste!
In a separate bowl pour in the double cream and use an electric whilst to mix until it peaks. This can take 10-15 minutes.
Fold in the first mixture to the double cream.
Add in the liquid double cream, and whisk the mixture till it comes together and becomes thick.
Then spoon the mixture on top of the biscuit base and put it in the fridge for around 5 hours, or even better overnight.
You can decorate with more blueberry juice and lilac flowers.
If you are gluten-free and/or vegan - check out this recipe that I came across for lilac cheesecake