my ice cream recipe book does not include a recipe for butter pecan ice cream, though it does include a recipe for buttered pecans to mix in. but i wasn't sure if butter pecan ice cream was really just vanilla with pecans in it, or something else. i thought of all the times i've had it and tried to remember just the ice cream's flavor... i couldn't. i asked my dad, butter pecan ice cream aficionado, for his take. "no there's something weird going on," he said, "it's not vanilla. it's BETTER than vanilla."
right he was. the recipe i used makes a very strongly flavored ice cream, more so than any butter pecan ice cream i've had. that being said, it's creamy and buttery and delicious. it's a great combination of salty and sweet. lastly, bourbon goes wonderfully with the flavor and it gives a perfect hint so i would recommend adding a bit to the ice cream, but that's optional.
butter pecan ice cream
recipe adapted from simply recipes (which has great pictures of the process) and the perfect scoop.
(makes 1 1/2 quarts)
for the ice cream:
6 large egg yolks
6 tbsp butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups whole milk
1 tsp vanilla
2–3 tbsp bourbon (optional)
for the pecans:
1 1/2 tbsp butter
1 1/2 cups pecan halves
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1. in a medium sized heat-safe bowl, whisk together the egg yolks until well blended. set aside.
2. pour the cream into a metal bowl set in a larger bowl of ice and set a medium-mesh sieve on top. set aside.
3. in a medium thick-bottomed saucepan on medium heat, melt the butter. cook it, stirring constantly, until it just begins to brown. add the brown sugar and salt. stir until the sugar completely melts.
4. slowly add the milk, stirring to incorporate. it will foam up initially, so make sure you are suing a pan with high enough sides. heat until all of the sugar is completely dissolved. do not let boil or the mixture may curdle.
5. whisk in hand, slowly pour half of the milk and sugar mixture into the eggs, whisking constantly to incorporate. then add the warmed egg mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining milk/sugar mixture.
6. stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a wooden or heatproof rubber spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula, about 5–7 minutes. a line drawn across the back of the spoon should not flow back together, comme ça:
7. pour the custard through the sieve and stir it into the cream. add vanilla and stir until cool over the ice bath. chill mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator.
8. meanwhile, make the buttered pecans. preheat the oven to 350. melt the butter in a skillet. remove from heat and toss the pecans with the melted butter until well coated, then sprinkle with the salt. spread evenly on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 10–12 minutes, stirring once during baking. remove from the oven and let cool completely. chop coarsely.
9. once the ice cream mixture is thoroughly chilled, freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.
10. once the ice cream has been formed in the ice cream maker, it will be fairly soft. pour in bourbon, if using, at the last minute of churning. fold in the chopped pecans. put in an airtight container and place in the freezer for at least an hour, preferably several. if it has been frozen for more than a day, you may need to let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes to soften it before serving.