As I discovered, bourbon (or any alcohol) helps keep ice cream soft and scoop-able. This walnut crumble recipe yields 5 batches of crumbles; I like to portion them into zip lock bags, and keep them in the freezer for easy future use. —Cristina Sciarra
about 1.25 quarts
1 cup raw walnuts
1 cup flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 stick salted butter
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 a vanilla bean, scraped
Vanilla-Bourbon Ice Cream
1.5 cups whole milk
1.5 cups cream
1/2 cup sugar, divided
1 pinch salt
1 vanilla bean
2 tablespoons vanilla-infused bourbon (you could also use regular bourbon), divided
Lay the walnuts on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. When the oven is heated, bake them for 10 minutes, or until they start to brown and smell divine.
Let the walnuts cool slightly. Then, using the bottom of a mug, crush the walnuts fairly thoroughly. (You can do this right on the baking sheet.) Add the flour, the white sugar, the light brown sugar, the butter, the nutmeg, the cinnamon, and the vanilla to the walnuts. Use your hands to massage all the ingredients together, making sure to evenly distribute the butter especially.
Put the baking sheet back in the oven for another 20 minutes, or until you have golden cookie crumbles. Let the crumbles cool completely.
Vanilla-Bourbon Ice Cream
In a medium pot, combine the milk, the cream, 1/4 cup of sugar, the salt, the vanilla bean (split it open first, and scrape it), and 1 tablespoon of the vanilla bourbon. Heat the liquid over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until it froths. Turn off the heat.
In a separate small bowl, collect the egg yolks. Add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, and whisk for about 2 minutes, or until the yolks look a lighter yellow.
Take a tiny measure of the milk mixture, and whisk it into the egg yolks. Keep adding the milk, little by little, whisking without pause as you go. When you’re finished, run the custard base through a sieve, add then add it back to the pot.
Turn the heat again to medium-low. Stir the custard almost constantly as it heats. You want it to coat the back of your spoon; after that, it’s done.
Move the custard to an ice bath. If you give it the occasional stir, it should be good and cold in about 45 minutes-1 hour. (You can also chill overnight in the fridge.) When the custard is cold, I like to stir in another tablespoon of the vanilla bourbon.
Pour the cold custard into an ice cream maker. Let it go for about 20-25 minutes, or until the ice cream reaches the consistency of soft-serve. (Don't let it go too long, or you will start to make butter.) At the last minute, add the walnut crumbles.
Spoon the ice cream into a plastic container, leaving as little air between the ice cream and the lid as possible, and move it to the freezer for at least 2-4 hours. Take the ice cream out of the freezer 5-10 minutes before serving.
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.