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Author Notes: There’s a surprise inside this yummy homemade cinnamon vanilla ice cream—a core of maple-pecan fudge! It’s a Ben & Jerry’s-style core, made at home. Be sure to allow enough time for the ice cream base to chill thoroughly.
—The Weiser Kitchen
- Nonstick vegetable oil spray
- 1 1/2 cups maple syrup, preferably Grade B
- 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup heavy cream, room temperature
- 8 ounces cream cheese
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped and reserved
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 cup toasted pecans, roughly chopped
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 vanilla beans, split and scraped, pod and seeds reserved
- 5 large egg yolks
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, preferably roasted
- Make the fudge filling: Spray a 9- by 9-inch pan with nonstick vegetable oil spray. Line it with two sheets of parchment paper, with a 1-inch overhang on each side. Set aside.
- In a medium saucepan, heat the maple syrup, sugar, and butter and cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until it boils actively.
- Add the cream and cream cheese, stir, and cook until a candy thermometer inserted into the mixture reads 235° F. (The temperature will continue to rise after you pull it off the heat and should get to 238° F.) It should take about 15 to 17 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand for 15 to 20 minutes undisturbed. It will still be quite warm to the touch, but it won’t be super-hot (between 110° and 130°F).
- Using a handheld electric mixer or a whisk, beat for 2 to 3 minutes, until the mixture loses its sheen.
- Stir in the salt, vanilla seeds, and cinnamon and pour through a fine-mesh sieve, stirring and pressing against the edges of the mesh, onto the prepared baking sheet. Mix in the toasted pecans so they are evenly distributed. The mixture will be thick and sticky, so it will take 3 to 4 minutes. Distribute the mixture on the baking sheet as evenly as you can and then let cool completely. The fudge will keep in a closed container, refrigerated, for 2 to 3 days.
- Make the ice cream: Heat a small saucepan over high heat. Add the cinnamon sticks and toast for 45 seconds to 1 minute until fragrant. Remove and set aside.
- Combine the cream, milk, vanilla pods and seeds, and cinnamon sticks in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Heat just until the mixture comes to a boil, without letting it actually boil. Remove from the heat, cover, and let stand for 12 to 15 minutes.
- Set up a large bowl filled one-fourth of the way up with ice water. Place a large, clean bowl over the ice bath so it will stay very still and be secure. Place a fine-mesh sieve over the top bowl.
- Slowly drizzle the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Continue drizzling and whisking until the hot milk mixture is completely incorporated.
- Pour the custard back into the pot. With a wooden spoon, stir continuously over low heat for 6 to 8 minutes, until the custard is thick and coats the back of a spoon. (Do not let the custard boil or the mixture will curdle. If steam begins to rise from the custard, briefly remove pot from heat to cool slightly while continuing to stir.)
- Pour the hot mixture quickly through the fine-mesh strainer into the chilled bowl in the ice bath, stirring the custard as it cools. Stir in the ground cinnamon and vanilla bean seeds. When cool enough to handle, refrigerate, covered, for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- Transfer to an ice cream machine and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- When it is ready, scoop the ice cream from the machine and place about half into a tall plastic container. Place the plunger of a food processor (or any cylinder-shaped piece in your kitchen that is a little bit shorter than the container) down the middle. Fill the sides with ice cream, cover, and freeze for 2 hours. Allow to get a bit soft—about 5 or 10 minutes on the kitchen counter will do—and remove the plunger. Add the room temperature maple pecan fudge to the center. Cover and freeze overnight or at least 12 hours. The ice cream may be kept in the freezer for up to one month.