In this ice cream, a vanilla-maple base gets studded with golden raisins (after an extended bath in bourbon and vanilla) and roasted cashews (that have been candied with butter, brown sugar and more maple syrup). I think it’s a pretty winning combination. —Cristina Sciarra
Test Kitchen Notes
This is a great ice cream. The caramelized nuts and boozy raisins are the perfect complement with the strong maple ice cream. I loved the little hints of vanilla. I used about half of the nuts in the ice cream, but feel free to play with it to find your ideal nut to ice cream ratio. —Stephanie Bourgeois
Prepare the raisins: In a small bowl, stir together the raisins, the bourbon and the seeds of ½ the vanilla bean. Let them to mellow together, covered but unrefrigerated, for about 2 hours. Drain the bourbon before using. (I saved the vanilla-bourbon for some future cocktail.)
Make the maple-candied cashews: Preheat the oven to 300F. Melt the butter.
In a large bowl, beat the egg white until it stiffens up a little. Add the cashews, and toss until they are coated. Add ¼ cup of the maple syrup and the melted butter, and toss until coated again. Add the brown sugar, and toss until the cashews are evenly coated.
Using your hands, spread the cashews in a single layer across a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. (Your hands will act as a kind of sieve; there should be some liquid left in the bowl.) Sprinkle the cashews with some of the sea salt. Bake for about 25 minutes, breaking them up every 7 minutes or so. When they look ‘candied,’ remove them from the oven and allow them to cool.
When the nuts are cool, use a mortar and pestle to lightly crush however many cashews you’d like to add to the ice cream. (You will have some left over; keep those for snacking.)
Make the ice cream: In a small pot, reduce ¾ cup of maple syrup for about 10 minutes, or until it’s noticeably thicker.
In a medium pot, bring the milk, cream and 1 tablespoon of the sugar to a boil, whisking occasionally. Remove it from the heat when it foams up in the pot.
In a separate bowl, mix the egg yolks with the remaining tablespoon of sugar. Beat energetically for a few minutes (until the color of the egg yolk lightens noticeably), then slowly pour the milk/cream mixture over the yolks, whisking constantly until incorporated. Strain the mixture through a sieve.
Wipe out the medium pot, and add back the strained custard. Stir in the reduced maple syrup, the remaining vanilla seeds and a pinch of the salt. Heat on medium-low, stirring occasionally until it starts to thicken. (You are looking for 175F on a candy thermometer, or until it sticks to the back of a spoon.) Run it through a sieve again.
Cool the ice cream base over an ice bath until it is quite cold, about 45 minutes. (You could also cover and refrigerate overnight.)
Add the ice cream base to an ice cream maker and let it go for about 20 minutes. In the last minute or two, add the golden raisins and the cashews.
Cristina is a writer, cook, and day job real estate developer. She studied literature, holds an MFA in Fiction Writing, and completed the Basic Cuisine course at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. She lives in Jersey City with her husband--a Frenchman she met in Spain--and their sweet black cat, Minou. Follow her writings, recipes, publications and photography at theroamingkitchen.com.