Maple and Toasted Pecan Ice Cream

As promised earlier in the week, new recipes are back!

Fall is in full swing here in Edinburgh. The trees are changing and dropping their leaves, it’s been hanging out in the 50’s (F), and the days are rapidly getting shorter — so it’s time to bust out the fall flavors and never look back. I’ve heard from family and friends that this is not exactly the case in Central Texas yet…but, if you’re stuck in eternal summer, this is a perfect recipe to make to help you pretend you live in a place that has seasons. Light a pumpkin scented candle and bring this ice cream out for a Saturday night college football game, and it will be almost as good as the real deal.

I love using maple syrup in ice cream any chance I can get. For one thing, it tastes great. For another, it’s better (okay, less bad) for you than processed sugars. And on top of all that, adding sugar in liquid form creates a wonderfully extra-creamy texture in the finished product that granulated sugar doesn’t (honey does this as well, incidentally).

For this recipe, I use three different types of sugar for the sake of flavor and texture: raw cane sugar, organic brown sugar, and of course, maple syrup. It’s important to not use only maple, because without some of the granulated sugar to help hold things together, the creamy texture that maple creates ends up being runny, even when frozen. Using part brown sugar helps bolster the dark and nutty sweetness of the maple, and adds to a nice dark shade of cream.

As you can see, this is a super simple recipe (no fruit compote, no immersion blending, no cooking off booze) — but the return on investment is top notch. The final product is a wonderfully complex flavor of both dark and bright sweetness, paired deliciously with a bit of salty and savory in the toasted pecans.

I hope you enjoy this delicious piece of fall, whether it’s an accurate reflection of your current climate, or just wishful thinking.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pint (475 ml) milk
  • 1 pint (475 ml) heavy cream
  • 3/5 cup (140 ml) raw cane sugar
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) maple syrup
  • 4 eggs
  • Pinch of salt
  • Roughly 1 cup (235 ml) raw pecans

Instructions:

Base:

  1. Combine the milk, cream, 1/2 cup cane sugar, brown sugar, maple syrup, and salt in a medium stockpot or saucepan. Stirring frequently (especially until mixture is fully combined), bring to 160˚ F (71˚C) over medium-high heat.
  2. At 160˚ F, turn off the heat. Crack the 4 eggs, separating the egg yolks into a small bowl and disposing of the whites and shells. Whisk together the egg yolks with the remaining cane sugar.
  3. Using a ladle or measuring cup, temper the eggs by slowly pouring about 1/2 cup of the hot base into the eggs, while whisking constantly, until the egg/sugar/hot base mixture loosens up. Then pour the mixture back into the base, whisking constantly.
  4. After the egg mixture has been fully incorporated into the base, turn the heat back on at medium-high heat. Stirring frequently, bring the base to 170˚F (77˚C) and turn off heat.
  5. Pour the cooked based through a fine mesh strainer and into a heat-safe bowl. Place bowl in refrigerator and allow to chill, uncovered, until the base is cool to the touch, stirring occasionally to decrease cooling time.
  6. While the base is cooling, pre-heat your oven to 375˚F (190˚C). Using a chef’s knife, chop the pecans into bite-sized pieced (or larger or smaller, depending on how big you like your chunks). Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the pecan pieces (and crumbs!) evenly over the paper. Toast for 7-10 minutes, until the pecans become aromatic and are slightly browned.
  7. Allow the pecans to cool to room temperature, then transfer them in a plastic bag or other container and place them in the freezer until it’s time to churn the base.
  8. Once the base is cool to the touch, cover and place in the refrigerator, and allow to set for at least 4-5 hours.**

Churn:

  1. After allowing the base to set, stir it with a spatula or whisk.
  2. Set up your churner.
  3. Pour the base into the churner and turn the cycle on. Allow the ice cream to churn and freeze until it has the consistency of thick soft-serve throughout, 15-30 minutes depending on your churner.
  4. Just as the ice cream is reaching the proper texture, grab the pecan pieces out of the freezer and slowly add them to the churner, allowing them to mix evenly for about 30 seconds.
  5. Pour the ice cream into a freezer-safe container and cover. Allow the ice cream to harden to a consistent texture throughout, roughly 6-8 hours depending on your freezer.

** If you are pressed for time, you can get away without waiting this long, though the texture might not end up quite as creamy. Just make sure that everything is fully chilled, or else your churner is likely to have problems freezing the base.

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