The older I get, the simpler I like my ice cream to be. I used to think the more things I could mix into my ice cream, the better. (And don’t get me wrong, there’s a place for chocolate chunks + caramel swirls + crumbled cookie + you name it – especially if you just want to sit down on the sofa and eat ice cream from a cereal bowl after a long day. I’ve been known to do that.) But give me this ice cream any day, under any circumstance, and I’ll be happy. It’s creamy, nutty, sweet, and salty. It's infused throughout with almond flavor rather than simply having almonds mixed in. The subtle honey notes are sublime with the almond – and the step of toasting the almonds first is key for an intensely nutty ice cream. It’s delicious on its own, but versatile enough to accompany any number of desserts. My favorite combo? A big scoop of this with a slice of warm apple or peach pie. In the mood for a mix-in? I've included a recipe for honeyed almond brittle, which can be folded into the just-churned ice cream. —EmilyC
Test Kitchen Notes
Can an ice-cream be described as sophisticated and chic? This is what comes to mind when I think back to those first spoonfuls of the dreamy, creamy, pillowy creation that came out of my ice cream maker. The taste is delicate and maintains its lightness while the honey undertones give it a sweetness that lingers. The texture is beautifully smooth, broken only by crunchy surprises of almond brittle and -- once in a while -- small sharp bursts of saltiness. My only problem is the dilemma: do I share or do I savor each spoonful all by myself? —On Top Of Spaghetti
- Makes 1 quart
1 1/2 cups
blanched almonds (either coarsely chopped or slivered)
of your favorite honey (I like chestnut)
large egg yolks
pure almond extract
Optional mix-in: honeyed almond brittle (see recipe in Step 2 below)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. On a baking sheet, spread the almonds in a single layer and toast them for 10 to 12 minutes, or until they’re golden brown.
- (Optional) To make honeyed almond brittle: In a small skillet, toast 3/4 cup coarsely chopped (or sliced) almonds until they just start to color -- then add 3 T honey and a pinch of sea salt. Stir frequently over moderate heat until almonds are golden and coated with honey, about 4 minutes. Take off the heat, and using a spatula, spread in a even layer on a plate or cookie sheet lined with parchment and sprayed with non-stick spray, so the brittle doesn't stick. When cool, break into small pieces.
- To make the ice cream base: Whisk together the egg yolks and 1/3 cup sugar until the mixture is pale yellow.
- Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, whisk together heavy cream, whole milk, honey, and the remaining 1/3 cup sugar over medium-high heat until the sugar dissolves and small bubbles start to form. Stir in almonds, cover, and remove from heat. Let sit for about 1 hour, or until infused with almond flavor. Taste and let sit longer if you want a stronger flavor. Strain it through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl and discard the almonds (or save them for a snack).
- Put the milk/cream mixture back in the saucepan, bring it to a simmer, then remove from heat. Add a little to the egg yolk mixture to warm it, starting with a few drops, then a slow and steady stream, about 1 cup total. Whisk constantly to prevent the egg yolks from curdling. Pour the egg yolk mixture back into the remaining hot milk/cream mixture; whisk together to combine.
- Return the custard to the stove and cook it over low heat, stirring constantly with a heatproof spatula, until it thickens enough to coat the spatula, about 7 to 10 minutes. If using an instant read thermometer, it should read around 170 degrees F (77 degrees C). Immediately take the saucepan off the heat, and strain the custard mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl. Stir in the almond extract, salt, and amaretto (if using).
- Let the custard cool to room temperature, then refrigerate it at least 4 hours or overnight. (I sometimes accelerate this chilling process by putting the bowl in the freezer for 45 minutes or so – but set a timer so you don’t forget about it. You want it to chill, not freeze!)
- To freeze the ice cream: Transfer chilled custard mixture to the bowl of your ice cream mixture, and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If opting to mix-in honeyed almond brittle, fold into the freshly-churned ice cream. Transfer into an airtight container, and place a piece of plastic wrap directly over the surface to prevent crystals from forming. Cover and freeze until firm, about 2 hours. Ice cream should keep well for up to 2 weeks.