I've thrown countless dinner parties, and my go-to dessert is homemade ice cream. So when I was thinking about what to serve for dessert for my Thanksgiving get-together, I figured a brown butter ice cream studded with toasted pecans would do the trick—even if the weather is getting a little cooler.
The ice cream is made with a classic custard base combined with nutty brown butter, which gives it an over-the-top, creamy mouth feel. A good amount of salt cuts through the fat, while the pecans add texture and a touch more holiday flavor.
It's perfect for topping seasonal pies (hello, pumpkin and apple), but I'll be eating it on its own, too. And no judgments if you want to lick the spoon.
Now who says you can't eat ice cream year-round?
To learn more, read "These Are Butter Days."
Brown Butter and Pecan Ice Cream
Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen
Yield: 1 quart
Prep Time: 10 minutes, plus churning and freezing time
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes, plus churning and freezing time
6 egg yolks
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
1 cup whole milk
¾ cup sugar
½ teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
2 cups heavy cream
¾ cup pecans, toasted, roughly chopped
1. Build an ice bath and set it aside. Place the egg yolks in a medium mixing bowl and set aside.
2. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until the milk solids begin to brown and the butter takes on a dark amber color, about 6 minutes. (It should also give off a nutty aroma.) Remove from heat and let cool.
3. In a separate medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the milk, sugar, salt and vanilla. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar has dissolved, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and gradually ladle the hot milk into the egg yolks, whisking to prevent the yolks from curdling. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan over medium heat and stir continuously until the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the cooled brown butter and strain through a fine-mesh sieve.
4. Stir the heavy cream into the hot custard and transfer to a 1-gallon resealable freezer bag; seal the bag and submerge it in the ice bath until completely chilled, about 20 minutes.
5. Chill the bowl of your ice cream machine. Pour the chilled base into the bowl of the ice cream machine and follow the manufacturer's instructions to churn until the mixture is a soft-serve ice cream consistency, about 30 minutes.
6. Using a rubber spatula, transfer the ice cream to a chilled airtight container, gently folding in the pecans as you go. Press a sheet of parchment directly onto the surface of the ice cream. Cover the container with a lid and freeze until the ice cream is firm, about 4 hours.