Maple-Walnut Ice Cream
When I think of maple, the first thing to come to mind is maple fudge, which is immediately followed by the episode of Friends when Ross ends up at a hotel in Vermont, eats his weight in maple candy and then goes bonkers on a sugar high. There are so many fabulous ways to infuse maple into both savory and sweet foods, and one of the things that has been on the top of my list for a long time is maple-walnut ice cream. I’ll be honest, though. When I first checked out this recipe, I had visions of Buddy the Elf pouring maple syrup all over his spaghetti. It seemed like a lot of syrup, and I worried that the ice cream would be sickeningly sweet. I was pleasantly surprised when the ice cream finished churning and I took my first spoonful. The flavors were completely balanced; the maple definitely came through, but wasn’t overpowering or too sweet. I breathed a sigh of relief then proceeded to take way more than my fair share of taste tests.
I love the subtle, sweet flavor of the ice cream paired with the crunchy, maple-glazed pecans. The flavor of the ice cream is very similar to that of butter pecan, so if you like sweetened ice cream with a bit of a caramel-nutty undertone, you will do back flips for this one. It might be getting chilly outside, but it’s never too cold for a bowl of ice cream. Ross would have devoured it in Vermont, and Buddy the Elf would certainly eat it while building snowmen on the North Pole! :)
Maple-Walnut Ice Cream
For the Ice Cream Custard:
- 1½ cups whole milk
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1½ cups heavy cream
- 5 egg yolks
- ¾ cup maple syrup
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch kosher salt
For the Maple-Glazed Walnuts:
- ½ cup maple syrup
- 1½ cups walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
- Pinch salt
- Make the Ice Cream Custard: In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, warm the milk and sugar, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Meanwhile, pour the heavy cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm milk mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Then, pour the mixture back into the saucepan.
- Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, making sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the pan occasionally. Keep stirring until the mixture thickens and coats the back of the spatula (if you’re using an instant-read digital thermometer, the mixture should be between 170 and 175 degrees F). Pour the custard through the mesh strainer and stir it into the cream. Add the maple syrup, vanilla extract and salt; stir to combine. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally (you can speed up the process by placing the bowl in an ice bath), then cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, or overnight.
- Make the Maple-Glazed Walnuts: Heat the maple syrup in a small skillet or saucepan over medium-high heat until it just begins to come to a full boil. Add the walnuts, stir to coat them, then allow the mixture to cook until it again comes to a full boil. Once it reaches a full boil, stir for 10 seconds, then remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool completely (the walnuts will still feel wet and sticky when cool).
- Churn the Ice Cream: Freeze the custard mixture in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions. Add the maple-glazed walnuts during the last few minutes of churning. Transfer to a freezer-safe container and store in the freezer.