Browned Butter Pecan Ice Cream

By • June 4, 2013 • 39 Comments


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Author Notes: This is the ice cream that made us forget our evening plans.
It is a better-than-classic butter pecan ice cream, made with browned butter, brown sugar, and roasted pecans. It is based on Jeni's Splendid Blank Canvas, although I have altered it a bit. I didn't have cream cheese on hand; hence the sour cream. I also reduced the cream for a less-fatty mouth feel, after reading that David Lebovitz had accidentally used only 1/4 cup in the Milkiest Chocolate flavor, and liked it better. I have also added instructions to whisk the base over low heat for a moment after adding the starch -- I find I can still taste starch in the finished ice cream if it's added after turning off the heat.
I cooked the base at about 2:00 and it was ready to chill by about 4:00 in the afternoon. After letting it harden in the freezer, we scooped it into cones and took a walk in the late L.A. sunlight. It was creamy and rich, with a perfect, deep butter flavor. The next morning, my husband said, "Didn't we have plans with friends last night?"
I should make them a batch of this ice cream to make up for it.
MrsMehitabel

Food52 Review: WHO: MrsMehitabel is new to the Finalist circle, and with this ice cream, we're wondering where she's been all our lives.
WHAT: The butter pecan ice cream of our dreams.
HOW: Brown some butter, then make a quick, non-custard base. Get yourself some cones somewhere during this process.
WHY WE LOVE IT: Browning the butter makes butter pecan ice cream grow up, and fast. The flavor is rich, deeply nutty, and a big step up from the ice-cream-stand butter pecan of summer vacations past. Our base looked just slightly grainy before it went into the machine; if yours does too, don't worry about a thing -- this will churn into the creamiest, smoothest ice cream you've had in a while.
A&M

Makes about 1 quart

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2/3 cups packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons tapioca syrup or light corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon tapioca starch or cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1/2 cup to 1 cup roasted pecans or pecan pieces
  1. If you have a cylinder-type ice cream maker, have the cylinder completely frozen.
  2. Brown the butter in a medium or large saucepan, and reserve the clarified butter for another use. Keep the solids in the saucepan. (I found the easiest way to do this was to pour the browned butter into a clear glass 2-cup measure, let it settle a bit, pour off the clarified butter, and return the solids to the pan.)
  3. Combine the starch with 2 tablespoons of the milk in a little prep bowl and place nearby.
  4. Add the rest of the milk, heavy cream, brown sugar, and syrup to the solids in the saucepan.
  5. Bring to a boil and boil, stirring, for exactly 4 minutes.
  6. Whisk in the starch-milk slurry, and continue cooking over low heat for just a moment, until the mixture no longer tastes of raw starch.
  7. Remove from heat, and whisk in the sour cream.
  8. Let the mixture cool, then chill. (An ice bath will speed this up!)
  9. Freeze according to your ice cream maker's instructions.
  10. Pack into a container, adding the pecans, and put it in the freezer for a few hours, or until it has hardened enough to scoop.

Comments (39) Questions (1)

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about 1 month ago Carolina

The flavour of this ice cream is fantastic. Truly delicious in every way. The texture, however, was a bit off for my palate. It lacked the creamy mouth-feel that extra cream in the recipe would give it. I found it a bit light in the loafers, so to speak. Am making it again tomorrow with adjusted cream to milk ratios in the hopes of the "Perfect" ice cream. It sure has the flavour.

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about 1 month ago tara.roberts.585

This might be the best ice cream I have ever made. I used my electric churn and it firmed up just fine.

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4 months ago Chocolate Be

This ice cream is almost too good. I made a quart to take to a New Year's Eve party and when my husband and I tasted the mixture before it went into the churn we almost finished it off then and there, in its liquid form. We made three different ice creams: the browned butter pecan, a coconut lime from Serious Eats and David Lebovitz's chocolate sorbet. There were 7 teenagers at the party and the three quarts of ice cream were gone within 5 minutes. Yum! Thanks for this great recipe.

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7 months ago Karin Ward

Thank you for the advice on how to handle the clarified butter and the solids. Very helpful!

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8 months ago ChiFoodLover

Thank you for this delicious recipe! My husband & I made it for my parents and it was a big hit. Just one question regarding the consistency - is it supposed to be similar to soft serve even after being in the freezer for more than 4 hours? Just wondering if it's a problem with my ice cream maker or not.

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8 months ago MrsMehitabel

I'm so glad you liked it! Mine was pretty soft, but scoopable. The picture of the test-kitchen batch looks firmer. If I made ice cream and it stayed soft-serve concistency, I'd leave some in overnight, test it in the morning, and then maybe worry about my freezer. But maybe it was the recipe- I'm thinking yours was probably within the range of likely outcomes....?

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9 months ago Angel

I missed the part of cooling before putting in my ice cream maker. It's ok-- it turned out fabulous. THANK YOU for this amazing recipe!

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9 months ago MrsMehitabel

Thank you! It's great to hear that you used it with good results!

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9 months ago Pam G

I am making this at the moment. Why is the cream only 1/2 cup instead of Jeni's usual 1 1/4 cups? The total volume seems low. I make Jeni's wonderful recipes all the time. Will this work?

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9 months ago MrsMehitabel

Hi, Pam! I'm so flattered that you made the recipe! This is a little late for your ice cream, but for anyone else who sees this and wonders the same thing, it definitely works. David Lebovitz featured one of Jeni's chocolate variations and said that he had accidentally used only 1/4 cup of cream the first time he made it, with good results. When I first used a Jeni's recipe, I thought it had a very fatty mouthfeel, and since this recipe already has butter solids (inevitably containing at least a tiny bit of butter), sour cream, and pecans, I felt that a reduced amount of cream was in order. It is still definitely rich and not icy.

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9 months ago Ileana Morales | a little saffron

Outrageous! I want this now. :)

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9 months ago Annie

Would regular sugar (not as a syrup) work in place of corn syrup or tapioca syrup?

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9 months ago MrsMehitabel

I'm sure you could just add a little more sugar and skip the syrup. This was inspired by the Jeni's Splendid ice cream method, and I read that her rationale for including the syrup (also the reason for the starch and cream cheese in her recipe) was to prevent ice crystals from forming and make a smoother ice cream. I'd definitely try it if I didn't have syrup- please do tell how it turns out if you make it!

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9 months ago Annie

Hi!! Thanks for your reply! Maybe I will make a simple syrup out of the sugar I already have....hmmmmm....but if I do make it with just regular sugar I will let you know. Thanks!!!

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9 months ago Auros Harman

A simple syrup is not going to have the same anti-crystallization effects as a tapioca or corn syrup. The specific sugar molecules in the tapioca and corn syrups are different from sucrose. I think tapioca has some maltose and glucose. Corn syrup definitely is high in fructose. In any case, these non-sucrose molecules mix in with the sucrose, and because they're shaped differently, they make it much harder for the sucrose to settle into crystals.

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9 months ago Annie

Hi Auros! Thank you for your comment! I really appreciate it!

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9 months ago Auros Harman

Happy to help! :-)

Though glancing back at the remarks from MrsMehitabel, it sounds like she was talking about ice crystals? I haven't seen the original Jeni's Splendid recipe, but I'm not sure exactly how non-sucrose sugars would affect that. Definitely ALL sugars -- and salts -- lower the freezing point of water and alter the way it crystallizes. But my guess is that the larger effect here is going to be preventing re-formation of sucrose crystals as your mixture cools, and thus preventing a gritty texture. You'll often see a small amount of Karo or other corn syrup in caramel recipes, for exactly this reason. http://www.davidlebovitz...

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9 months ago MrsMehitabel

I probably didn't do justice to Jeni's reasoning in my comment! The Amazon page for her book, Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home, allows a preview of the introduction, where she explains this more fully.

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10 months ago redhairandfreckles

This was so good! But... super rich, so be prepared to only eat a scoop!

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10 months ago amber wilson | for the love of the south

Congrats! This recipe looks lovely!

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10 months ago foxeslovelemons

Congratulations! I'm going to make this for my Dad next time I see him - he loves butter pecan ice cream, and this looks insanely amazing!

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10 months ago Kukla

Congratulations on your well deserved win and a happy begining at food52!!

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9 months ago MrsMehitabel

Thank you so much! And what a nice beginning!

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10 months ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Congratulations on the win, it's a wonderful recipe.

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10 months ago indieculinary

Congrats! This looks delicious.

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10 months ago anotherfoodieblogger

Congratulations! This ice cream sounds divine, and being from Texas, I do love some good pecan ice cream.

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10 months ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Congratulations! Butter Pecan ice cream is one of my favorite flavors. Can't wait to bust out the ice cream maker this summer.

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10 months ago lazychef

This looks AWESOME. Any suggestions on a good use for the clarified brown butter leftovers?

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10 months ago savorthis

Mix it with balsamic vinegar and soy for a really tasty sauce for veggies.

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10 months ago MrsMehitabel

Thank you! I used mine for a hollandaise with Meyer lemons- it was delicious. The balsamic vinegar sauce sounds wonderful.

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10 months ago Kitchen Butterfly

Yes, yes, yes.....weekend plans sorted. Me thinks! Congratulations

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10 months ago ChefJune

June is a trusted source on General Cooking.

this recipe deserves to be a finalist. You've certainly taken this ice cream to a new level. I've already tried your browned butter technique on my own recipe. What a difference!

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9 months ago MrsMehitabel

Thank you! I'm so glad the technique worked for you.

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10 months ago savorthis

Browned butter makes everything better. Congrats....looks tasty!

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10 months ago darksideofthespoon

Woah! Incredible. Can't wait to eat a pint of this by myself.

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10 months ago brette warshaw

Brette is the Managing Editor of Food52.

This was CRAZY GOOD I can't stop thinking about it.

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9 months ago MrsMehitabel

Thank you, Brette! Neither can I. I'm going to have to get some more pecans from Trader Joe's soon.

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10 months ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Congratulations, love the brown butter, it takes one of my favorite ice cream flavors over the top.

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11 months ago Kitchen Butterfly

Love the flavours- 2 of my favorite things ever: brown butter and pecans! I wish I were home!!!