Make Ahead

Browned Butter Pecan Ice Cream

June  4, 2013
2 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
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

Test Kitchen Notes

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. —The Editors

  • Makes about 1 quart
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup 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
In This Recipe
  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.
Contest Entries

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Emily Love
    Emily Love
  • Smaug
  • Allison Conant
    Allison Conant
  • Señora Hughes
    Señora Hughes
  • tara.roberts.585