Why It Works
- Steeping chopped pecans directly in ice cream base makes for a nuttier flavor.
- Browning butter enhances and deepens the ice cream's buttery character.
- Raw sugar brings added complexity without the overwhelming tanginess of brown sugar.
Most butter pecan doesn't taste anything like butter or pecans. This recipe changes that by steeping pecans directly into the ice cream base and adding toasty, nutty browned butter.
- 8 ounces unsalted pecans, divided
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 6 large egg yolks
- 3/4 cup raw (turbinado) sugar
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon kosher salt, to taste
Toast 4 ounces pecans in a microwave or a dry saucepan over high heat until they darken slightly and begin to smell nutty, about 1 minute, then finely chop and set aside. While pecans toast, bring cream and milk to a simmer in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Remove from heat, stir in pecans, cover, and steep for 1 to 2 hours.
In a light-colored skillet, brown butter and set aside. In a clean heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk together egg yolks and sugar until well combined.
Strain cream mixture through a fine mesh strainer into pot with eggs and sugar, followed by browned butter; discard soaked pecans. Whisk until fully combined, then set over medium heat and cook, whisking frequently, until a custard forms on a spoon and a finger swiped across the back leaves a clean line, or until custard temperature reaches 170°F. Add salt to taste.
Pour custard through a fine mesh strainer into an airtight container and chill in an ice bath or refrigerator until temperature drops to 40°F, about 4 hours for ice bath, up to overnight for refrigerator.
Churn ice cream according to manufacturer's instructions. While ice cream churns, toast and roughly chop remaining 4 ounces of pecans, then chill in freezer. Add pecans to ice cream during final minute of churning. Transfer churned ice cream to an airtight container and harden in freezer for at least 4 hours before serving.
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