Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Knock Your Socks Off Salted Butter Pecan Brittle Ice Cream

I've made a lot of different versions of butter pecan ice cream, including a cheater version that started with instant French vanilla pudding mix. I've made fancy butter pecan ice cream, and wacky butter pecan ice cream with buttermilk in it. And lots and lots and lots of basic versions of butter pecan ice cream.

I haven't blogged about all of them. But I ate all of them. Or, really, I sampled all of them. I always have help eating them.

I've also made un-buttered pecan ice cream, un-adorned French vanilla ice cream. I've made ice cream with other kinds of nuts and ice creams with toffee but no nuts at all. I've made ice cream with nut butters.

I've made a lot of ice creams that were similar to this, related to this, or components of this ice cream. They were all good, no doubt.

But this ice cream! This one has everything. Well, except for the instant pudding. It's a custard-based ice cream with crunchy salted brittle and buttery pecans. It's ... it's ... it's ... just wow.

If you like nutty, buttery, salty, sweet, rich, crunchy, crazy ice cream, you have to try this. Have to. I think it might be a law somewhere.

Salted Butter Pecan Brittle Ice Cream
Makes about 6 cups of ice cream

For the ice cream:
2 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 egg yolks
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla butternut flavoring (optional, but highly recommended)

For the salted pecan brittle:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
8 ounces pecan halves
Generous pinch of salt

Reserve 1/2 cup of the milk.

Put the remaining 2 cups of milk in a heavy-bottomed saucepan along with the heavy cream, sugar, and salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, combine the reserved milk, egg yolks, and cornstarch in a bowl. Whisk to combine.

When the milk/cream mixture has reached a simmer, turn off the heat and start ladling the hot mixture into the egg mixture a little at a time, whisking as you add it. When you've added a cup or so of the hot mixture to the egg mixture, it should be nicely warm.

Now, begin adding the egg mixture back to the pot, whisking as you add it. Turn the heat to medium and cooking, stirring until the mixture begins to boil and thickens. Don't heat it too quickly, or the eggs could curdle - you want it to heat up gradually and stir constantly. You'll feel it thicken when it reaches the boiling point.

Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a storage container. This will remove any errant bits of curdled egg.

Add the vanilla extract and vanilla butternut flavoring to the ice cream base and stir to combine. Refrigerate until well-chilled. I like to let it chill overnight, if I have time.

While the ice cream is chilling, make the brittle. Like a baking sheet with a silicone mat.

Put the butter and sugar in a heavy saucepan. Heat slowly, stirring as needed, until the sugar melts - you'll see that it's clear rather than cloudy. It will also brown to a lovely dark caramel color - watch it so that it doesn't burn.

Add the pecans all at once and stir to coat the pecans with the candy mixture and butter. Before you stir, the butter will seem like it's not going to incorporate with anything, but once you add the pecans, it will all be fine.

Dump the pecans onto your prepared baking sheet and spread them out. Quickly sprinkle with the salt onto the pecans. Let them cool completely, then break them apart. Try not to eat too much of it before the ice cream is done.

When the ice cream base is thoroughly chilled, churn it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

As you transfer the ice cream to your storage container, layer the pecan brittle between dollops of the ice cream - you don't need even layers, it should be random. If you like, you can give it a little stir to make it even more random.

Refrigerate until firm.

Want more butter pecan recipes? Check out this cheater version for in ice cream base that starts with instant French vanilla pudding mix. Just add pecans to that, and your're good to go. And for something totally different, go peek at my fancy butter pecan ice cream, and my wacky butter pecan ice cream with buttermilk in it.

This post was part of ice cream week, hosted by  Kim of Cravings of a Lunatic and Susan of  The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen, along with 25 amazing bloggers.

Be sure to swing by all of today's Ice Cream Week Participants: