Monday, January 7, 2013

Ice Cream #11: Maple Pecan

For many, New Year's resolutions have begun in full force. You may think it's too soon to start in with the sweets again right after the holidays, but I'm behind on my ice cream challenge and have no choice! After making this maple pecan ice cream, I can't say I'm complaining. Personally, I can't think of any better way to kick off the New Year! 

To me, anything maple flavored fits nicely into the fall and winter months, but can of course be made anytime of the year. Using pure maple syrup and a bit of maple extract gives this ice cream a beautiful flavor. And for those who are "sugar-free," you'll be glad to know there's no added refined sugar used to sweeten this ice cream. It's all syrup, baby. 

Maple and pecans are a natural combination, they sort of just roll of the tongue don't they? The buttery and slightly salty pecans provide a great crunch and nuttiness to that coveted maple flavor (if you're allergic to nuts, never fear, feel free to leave them out as the maple is heavenly all on its own!). Yum!

Recipe from Gourmet, August 1997

3/4 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/8 tsp. salt
3 large egg yolks
1/2 tsp. maple extract or flavor 

Begin by filling a large metal bowl with about 2-inches of ice water. Place a slightly smaller metal bowl inside. Put a fine mesh strainer or sieve over the two bowls and set aside. 

In a medium size skillet, melt the butter over medium heat until the foam subsides. Add the pecans, stirring occasionally, until they are lightly browned, about 2 to 3 minutes. Sprinkle with salt to taste and set aside to cool. Transfer pecans to a well-sealed container or plastic zip-top bag and refrigerate until ready to use.

In a medium saucepan, add the cream, whole milk, maple syrup, and salt and stir to combine. Bring the mixture just to a boil, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, in a medium size bowl whisk the egg yolks until smooth. Add the hot cream mixture to the egg yolks in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly. Return the mixture back to the saucepan and cook the custard over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a spoon or rubber spatula, until an instant-read thermometer reaches 170 degrees F. Pour the custard through the prepared sieve and stir until completely cool. Stir in the extract. Place a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the custard and another sheet over the bowl. Refrigerate until cold, preferably overnight.

Process the ice cream in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer's instructions. Stir in the chopped pecans. Transfer the ice cream to quart containers and freeze until ready to use. 

 Yield: About 1 quart 

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