I used my fair share of alcohol in sweets for my birthday (Tiramisu Cupcakes), St. Patrick’s Day (Guinness-Milk Chocolate Ice Cream, Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes), Cinco de Mayo (Margarita Cupcakes), and the Kentucky Derby (Chocolate Bourbon Walnut Pie) but haven’t used any since that 6-week period. I guess my taste buds knew it had been a couple of months since there was any booziness going on the kitchen, because when I started browsing around for a new ice cream recipe to try, this one immediately jumped out at me. Vanilla ice cream with a bit of rum in it, plus rum-soaked dates and maple-glazed pecans sounded irresistible to me. And so like a good baker, I made it immediately. And then proceeded to eat way more of it than I should have. However, life is short. So, eat ice cream. Right? Right. :)
The vanilla base for the ice cream is pretty similar to classic vanilla bean ice cream, although only vanilla extract is used (not a vanilla bean), and an extra egg yolk is added. And of course a couple tablespoons of rum! In addition, we have dates that have been macerating in rum for at least 4 hours, and a batch of pecans that have been glazed with maple syrup. You can skip the maple syrup if you’d like and just use regular toasted pecans, but I thought the addition of the maple flavor paired with the rum and dates would be fabulous. And it totally was. All of the flavors just bounce off of each other and do a little dance. Love this ice cream! Plus, of all the ice creams that I’ve made over the last couple of years, my mom has declared this her very favorite of all of them. Mom’s vote has to count for something, right? :)
1. To prepare the dates, chop them into ½-inch pieces. Combine the date pieces with the rum in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir. Cover and let macerate at room temperature for at least 4 hours (this can be done up to 1 day ahead).
2. To make the ice cream, warm the milk, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. Pour the cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.
4. Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. Mix int he vanilla and rum, then stir until cool over an ice bath. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator.
5. Heat the maple syrup in a small skillet or saucepan until it just begins to come to a full boil. Stir in the pecans, then cook until the liquid comes to a full boil once again. Stir the nuts for 10 seconds, then remove them from the heat and let cool completely. The nuts will still be wet and sticky when cooled. Chop maple-glazed pecans coarsely.
6. Freeze the custard mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. During the last few minutes of churning, add the wet pecans and date pieces.