Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Butter Pecan Ice Cream

Hello, everyone!  Happy Tuesday!  I figured I'd put up one of my all time favorite ice cream flavors today.  Butter pecan ice cream.  Pecans are certainly a southern staple, not to mention a favorite of mine.  And not just because we have big, beautiful pecan tree in our backyard.
As a kid, I didn't really care for this flavor of ice cream.  There were so many other amazing, kid-oriented flavors, so I always passed this one by.  However, it was my mom's go-to flavor, when she got ice cream (she doesn't have much of a sweet tooth...).
Anyway, a dozen years ago or so, I figured I'd give it a shot.

And my mind was changed.
You want to see how easy this flavor is to make at home?  Let's get started!
Here's your grocery list for this one:
2 C heavy cream
2 C whole milk
6 egg yolks
1 C brown sugar
1 stick butter
1/4 tsp Kosher salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 C chopped pecans

This goes pretty quickly, so let's get started!  In a large measuring cup, measure out your heavy cream and whole milk.  I didn't have quite enough whole milk to get me up to 4 cups, so I just topped it off with some more heavy cream, and it worked out perfectly!  Usually, when I make ice cream, instead of buying 1/2 gallon of whole milk, I just buy the little single servings of milk that they have by the gallons and half gallons for sale.  You know the kind you can just put in your lunch box, or in the car?  It's usually 14 oz., so it's just shy of 2 cups (16 oz); I figured, what's a couple of ounces between friends?


Just top off with some extra heavy cream, and there you go, 4 cups between the heavy cream and the whole milk.  Anyway, set that aside for a minute, and melt the stick of butter in a medium to large sized pot.  Apparently, the more scratched and beat up your pot is, the better!  At least, in my house, anyway!

Wait for the butter to just start to brown , and add in your brown sugar.  Mix this until the sugar melts.  It will looks kind of clumpy, but that's okay.  Pour in the milk and cream mixture; heat this over medium heat until it just barely starts to simmer. 

 Hahaha my daughter gabbed my camera and decided to take a random picture.  These are the days, folks!  

While you're waiting for this lovely ice cream base to simmer, separate your egg yolks from the eggs whites, and put the yolks into a mixing bowl.  Beat up the yolks, until they are a light yellow color, and a little bit thicker.  
Okay, the egg yolks are beat up, and the milk mixture has started to simmer, slowly combine the two, pouring the milk mixture into the eggs, with the mixer running, so that the eggs don't scramble.   

I was so irritated, because the hot milk mix kept pouring down the side of the pot instead of into the mixer.  Ugh.  Anyway, I ended up getting most of it into the mixer, so I was pretty happy in the end.  Just made a huge mess in the meantime.   

Once everything has been mixed together, pour it all back into the first pot, and heat over medium heat, until the mixture just begins to thicken, about 5 minutes.  Make sure you stir constantly!  You don't want the eggs to cook on the bottom!  You can see how it is a little bit thin in the one picture, but there isn't as much movement in the second picture.  This really doesn't take but a couple of minutes. 

Once your mixture has thickened, run it through a mesh wire strainer, to catch any possible chunks there may be in your ice cream base.  Pour it into a large bowl, cover it with some plastic wrap, and let it cool to room temperature.  This takes a few hours, so be patient. 
Like I always say with ice cream bases, make sure when you put your plastic wrap on, to press it down against the top of the ice cream base.  This will keep the ice cream base from forming a skin on the top.  Once it has cooled to room temperature, add in the vanilla, give it a quick stir, recover it with the plastic wrap and put it in the fridge overnight, so that the flavors can really marry, and the mixture has thoroughly cooled. 


Now then, lets turn our attention to the pecans.  You can just put them in raw, but I like to toast mine.  Toasted pecans just taste better, in my opinion, in this instance.  Pour your pecans into a pan that has been heated over medium for a few minutes.  Stirring them constantly (because they will burn quickly if you're not careful!), let them toast in the pan for about 10 minutes.  Once they have finished toasted, I put them in a plastic container, and popped them in the freezer overnight as well.  This way, when you put them into the ice cream churn as the base is churning, they won't bring the temperature up, causing the machine to work harder to counterbalance it. 
So, the next morning, pull your ice cream base out, and churn it according to your ice cream machines directions.  About 5 minutes before your ice cream has finished churning, add in the pecans. 

 I mixed my pecans in, in small batches, so that they mix in evenly.  Once your pecans have mixed in, move your newly made ice cream into a plastic container, and let it freeze for at least 6 hours, before dishing it up!  This ice cream is smooth, except when you hit a lovely, toasted pecan.  They retain a beautiful crunch in this ice cream.  Try it, I promise you won't regret it!
I like to press plastic wrap down against the top of my ice cream, as it freezes.  This prevents ice crystals from forming on the top of the ice cream as it freezes!