Serious Eats: Recipes
Scooped: Really Buttery Pecan Ice Cream
For most of my life, I never got the point of butter pecan ice cream. It always seemed like less than the sum of its parts: wan pecans poking out of bland vanilla ice cream? No thanks. When I started making ice cream, recipes for butter pecan didn't give me much hope. Three tablespoons of butter per quart? One? I had my doubts that the results would be all that satisfying.
But I felt I owed butter and pecans—which have never failed me—the benefit of the doubt. So I threw out my preconceived notions of what butter pecan was in order to decide what it should be.
My investigations began, as many good things do, with a stick of butter. (This is butter pecan after all!) I went for a high-fat European butter for extra buttery goodness, and then stirred in a fair amount of brown sugar to make a butterscotch-like base. The result tasted good, but flat. It needed something nutty to draw out the pecaniness of the pecans, preferably with a savory kick to cut through all the sweetness. My answer? Miso paste. Intensely savory, rapturously nutty, and crazy delicious with butter. You don't taste a pronounced miso flavor once the custard's aged and churned, but it gives the ice cream the umph it needs. A touch of cinnamon and a splash of vanilla complete the story.
So here is butter pecan for those who want more out of their butter pecan. Sweet and salty, rich and super buttery. I consider myself converted.
About the authors:
Ethan Frisch is the chef and co-mastermind behind Guerrilla Ice Cream. He's traveled around the world (30 countries, 5 continents) and worked as a pastry chef and line cook in some of NYC's great (and not so great) restaurants. He currently lives in London, where he really misses New York City tap water.
Max Falkowitz writes Serious Eats' weekly Spice Hunting column. He's a proud native of Queens, New York, will do just about anything for a good cup of tea, and enjoys long walks down the aisles of Chinese groceries.You can follow his ramblings on Twitter.