Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Brown Butter and Candied Pecan Ice Cream

butter and ice cream and pecans, oh my !

Last Friday was my son's 19th birthday. I'm pleased to report that the boy is shaping up to be just as much of a foodie as his parents are...this kid has pretty much always been a joy to feed. I know were lucky in that respect...tough growing up around here if you're not much of an eater : )

For his birthday, we decided to take him to Sprigs . We absolutely love Sprigs - it's one of our favorite places on earth, and we've never had a bad meal there. Somehow, though, the silly child has never managed to be around when a trip to Sprigs was on the calendar. He's always wanted to try it, though, so off to Acton we went - and another fantastic meal was had by all. And even though we were stuffed to the gills, you can't have a birthday without dessert. And that brings us to Brown Butter Ice Cream...which I have been obsessed with since Friday.

happily browning away
Brown butter in and of itself is magic elixir. Plain unsalted butter is melted in a saucepan and slowly, slowly cooked until small toasty brown bits appear and your whole kitchen smells like butter and nuts and toast and all things delicious. It's used for all sorts of things - you can throw in herbs (especially sage) and serve it over vegetables or pasta; you can add a sprinkle of pecans, toast them up, then throw in cooked rice for an amazing side dish, and you can use it add the most incredible flavor to baked goods and pastries. Sprigs, however, uses it to make the most amazing ice cream I have ever encountered. And once I had it, I knew I had to find out how to make it.

It just so happens that last Christmas, Santa brought me an ice cream maker attachment for my beloved Kitchen-Aid mixer. I'm still trying to figure out the hang of this thing...for some reason every batch I make overflows. We've had a lot of fun learning, though...and thankfully, I have acquired enough skillz that I was able to do justice to this amazing concoction. I found the basic recipe here , but of course tweaked it and added a few things. Because that's how I roll :)

A word on the brown butter...you absolutely have to keep an eye on it. If you go past "brown" to "black", throw it out and start over. No coming back from that one. I also think a little bourbon would go swimmingly in this...you will definitely need to freeze for a few hours before serving if you add the booze as it won't totally freeze in the ice cream maker. Worth it though, I think !

Brown Butter Ice Cream with Candied Pecans

 8 Tbs butter
 2 cups cream
 1 cup milk
 6 yolks
 1 cup light brown sugar
 ½ tsp salt
 1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbs bourbon (optional)
1 cup candied pecans (store-bought, or use my glazed pecans - replace the chipotle with cinnamon and nutmeg)

In a pan, melt the butter and continue cooking it over low heat until the butter browns - you will see brown toasty bits and it will smell nutty. Immediately remove from heat and set aside.

In a larger pan, combine the cream and milk and scald (barely bring to a simmer, then take off heat). Stir in the vanilla (and bourbon if using) 

In a mixer whisk together the eggs, brown sugar and salt until fluffy. Add the brown butter, a little bit at a time to the running mixer. When they are combined, add the milk a little at a time until the whole mixture is frothy and smooth and well combined.

Return mixture to the larger pan and put back on the stove over medium-low heat., and cook on low until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Pour into a bowl and refrigerate until completely cool or up to overnight.

Run the custard through an ice cream maker according to the manufacturers directions, stirring in the pecans at the end. (at least that's how the Kitchen-Aid works) It will come out of the Kitchen-Aid the consistency of soft-serve, but you can also just freeze until firm....if you can wait that long to eat it !

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