This is our take on the classic butter pecan flavor. We leave the butter out of the ice cream itself, instead choosing to let the rich molasses notes of dark brown sugar shine through. Then we make pecan brittle with butter and break that into pieces. Bits of the brittle dissolve into the ice cream, and others stay hard and crunchy.
Butter Pecan Brittle Icecream
For the Brown Sugar Ice Cream:
- ¾ cup packed dark brown sugar
- ½ cup skim milk powder
- 1⅔ cups whole milk
- 1⅔ cups heavy cream
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the Pecan Brittle:
- Butter for the baking sheet
- 12 oz pecans, broken into pieces
- ½ cup golden syrup
- 1 cup organic cane sugar
- ¾ tsp salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- ½ tsp baking soda
Make the brown sugar ice cream: Prepare an ice bath in the sink or in a large heatproof bowl.
In a medium saucepan, combine the brown sugar, skim milk powder, and milk. Stir with a hand mixer or whisk until smooth. Make sure the skim milk powder is wholly dissolved into the mixture and that no lumps remain (any remaining sugar granules will dissolve over the heat). Stir in the cream.
Clip a candy thermometer to the saucepan and set the pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring often with a rubber spatula and scraping the bottom of the pan to prevent sticking and burning, until the mixture reaches 110ºF, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.
Place the egg yolks in a medium bowl. While whisking, slowly pour ½ cup of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolks to temper them. Continue to whisk slowly until the mixture is an even color and consistency, then whisk the egg-yolk mixture back into the remaining milk mixture.
Return the pan to the stovetop over medium heat and continue cooking the mixture, stirring often, until it reaches 165ºF, 5 to 10 minutes more.
Transfer the pan to the prepared ice bath and let cool for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the vanilla and stir to combine. Pour the ice cream base through a wire-mesh strainer into a storage container and place in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours, or until completely cool.
Make the pecan brittle: Preheat the oven to 275ºF. Butter a 12-by-18-inch rimmed baking sheet and line it with parchment paper.
Spread the pecans in a single layer on the baking sheet and toast them until they just begin to change color, about 10 minutes. Let cool, then transfer the pecans to a bowl and set aside. Reserve the prepared baking sheet for the brittle.
In a medium saucepan, combine the syrup, sugar, salt, butter, and ¼ cup water. Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and set the pan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until the ingredients are combined and the sugar has dissolved, then continue to cook without stirring until the mixture reaches 305ºF, about 15 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the pecans and baking soda. Whisk vigorously for a few moments to combine. Move quickly, as the mixture will begin to set as the temperature drops. Spread the mixture evenly across the prepared baking sheet. Let cool until brittle, about 2 hours.
Chop the brittle into bite-size pieces and store in an airtight container in the freezer until ready to use.
Transfer the cooled base to an ice cream maker and churn it according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Transfer the ice cream to a storage container, folding in the pecan brittle pieces as you do. Use as much of the brittle as you want; you won’t necessarily need the whole batch. Serve immediately or harden in your freezer for 8 to 12 hours for a more scoopable ice cream.
About the Author
From Ample Hills Creamery: Secrets and Stories from Brooklyn’s Favorite Ice Cream Shop, Stewart Tabori & Chang © 2014