Monday, August 30, 2010

Praline Ice Cream

My parents took my brother and I to New Orleans when I was in the fifth grade.  At the time this didn't seem weird, but as I grew up I realized that most people don't go the New Orleans with their fifth graders.  Instead they go for Mardi Gras and consume a fifth of bourbon while wandering down Bourbon Street.  My parents warned us about Bourbon Street, and when we walked down it - as a family - in the center of the street so as to be not to be too close to the bars and houses of lovely ladies.  I am serious.

Several things from the trip stick out in my mind, most of them related to food.  We downed beignets at Cafe du Monde almost daily, and when I wasn't covered with powdered sugar I was sticky from pralines.  Pralines aren't really something you find many places, and it's really heartbreaking for those of us who don't live in New Orleans.  When done right, they melt in your mouth to release a deep sweetness that goes perfectly with rich, crunchy nuts.

This recipe was supposed to be a normal butter pecan ice cream, but the moment I tasted it, I knew it was a praline ice cream in my book.  It isn't a vanilla ice cream with praline pieces (which I would also love), but instead the entire thing just tastes like a praline on it's own.  It's addictive.

To get started, whisk together 6 large egg yolks and set aside.

You will need two cups of heavy cream and two cups of milk - don't buy half-and-half though, because you need them separated.

One cup of brown sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt provide just the right balance of sweetness in this rich ice cream.

Fill a large bowl with ice water.  Place two cups of cream in a bowl on top of the ice water.  Place a large sieve on top of the cream.  This set-up will chill the custard immediately so that it stops cooking when you remove it from the heat.

In a medium saucepan heated to medium heat, melt six tablespoons of butter.

Mix the butter constantly and cook until it just begins to brown.

Add in 1 cup brown sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Stir until the sugar completely melts.  This will take several minutes.

Slowly pour in 2 cups of milk.  It will foam up, so make sure you pan can handle it.

The cold milk caused my caramel mixture to seize up and harden, but I just continued to heat the milk and stir until the "praline" melted back into the mixture.  Be sure to heat until all of the sugar melts into the milk.

Very slowly, pour half of the milk mixture into the eggs, whisking constantly so as not to scramble the eggs.  Add the warmed egg mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining milk mixture.  Heat the combined mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly with a rubber/silicon spatula or a wooden spoon.  Be sure to scrape the bottom as you stir.  Heat for 5-7 minutes, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of the spoon.

Pour the custard into the chilled cream through the sieve to remove any unwanted bits.  Add 1 teaspoon vanilla and chill in the fridge for at least two hours.  Then churn in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Meanwhile, roast 1 cup of pecans (or pre-chopped pecans) in a 350 degree oven until lightly toasted.  Cool before adding to ice cream.  Cup pecans into small pieces.

When the ice cream is done churning, mix 1 cup of chopped pecans into the ice cream and freeze to harden.

The first words out of my mouth when I had my first spoonful were "oh my God."

This ice cream is so up my alley that it might be my if-you-could-only-have-one-flavor-for-the-rest-of-your-life-what-would-it-be choice.  It also really tastes straight out of a gourmet ice cream shop.  I love cookie dough ice cream as much as the next gal, but there is something to be said for this more unique and adult flavor.  New Orleans in my mouth - now time to figure out how to make beignet ice cream.  Hmm...

Praline Ice Cream
Adapted from Simply Recipes

6 large egg yolks
6 tablespoons butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup pecans

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together 6 egg yolks.  In a separate bowl, place 2 cups of heavy cream in a bowl over a large bowl of ice water.  Place a large sieve atop the cream.  In a saucepan with high sides, melt 6 tablespoons of butter over medium heat.  Stir the butter constantly and when it just begins to brown add 1 cup brown sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Continue cooking over medium heat until the sugar melts (this will take several minutes), keep stirring.  Slowly pour in 2 cups of milk - it will foam up and will potentially cause the sugar mixture to harden.  Cook the milk mixture until the sugar is fully incorporated/melted into it.  Do not boil.  Very slowly, pour half of the milk mixture into the 6 egg yolks, while whisking constantly.  (Tip: Using a small measuring cup to remove the warm milk mixture makes pouring it into the eggs easier when whisking.)  Add the warmed eggs back into the milk mixture and heat over medium heat, stirring with a rubber/silicon spatula or wooden spoon.  Be sure to scrape the bottom.  Wait for the mixture to thicken enough to coat the back of the spoon, 5-7 minutes.  Pour the custard into the sieve and mix with the cream.  Add 1 teaspoon vanilla and chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours.  Meanwhile, roast 1 cup pecans in a 350 degree oven until fragrant, 6 minutes.  Chop and cool before adding to ice cream.  Churn ice cream according to ice cream maker's instructions.  When done, stir in 1 cup chopped pecans and freeze to harden.


  1. I want it. I need it. I have to try that ice cream!

  2. Boo...never made it to the recipe given the ridiculous comments abotu a fifth of liquor being the only reason to go to New Orleans. Boo I say. Also the ice cream looks boring. If you are capable I would recommend making silky smooth New Orleans style pralines and having chunks of it in the ice cream or at the very least below or on top of.


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