When I planned dessert for a family holiday meal, I went back and forth—Should I bake a pumpkin pie or a pecan pie? Then I remembered my friend who recently gave me her recipe for lemon meringue pie ice cream. She uses lovely swirls of lemon curd with crushed shortbread. I was inspired by this idea. I decided make pumpkin pie and serve it with a pecan pie flavored ice cream.
Pecan pie has a gooey, crazy-sweet filling, and I wanted my ice cream to feature that texture. I adapted a recipe for lemon curd into a recipe for a brown sugar pecan curd. This curd swirls through a base of brown butter pecan ice cream. This is an incredibly rich recipe. When I imagine eating it with actual pecan pie, my teeth start to hurt. —Adventurous Ice Creams
Toast the pecan pieces in a 350-degree oven until fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes.
Separate out 1/3 of the toasted pecan pieces. Crush these into powder. I use a coffee grinder, but you could also use a mortar and pestle, or just put them in a sandwich bag and smash them with a meat tenderizer or any blunt object you have laying around. Set aside.
Heat the cream, milk, and 1 cup sugar over medium heat. Whisk occasionally until the sugar dissolves. Continue to heat slowly, but do not let the mixture boil.
While the cream heats, brown the butter. Set 3 T of cut-up butter in a small skillet and heat over medium heat. The butter will melt and slowly turn a golden brown. (Don’t let it sit too long—if it turns from golden to cardboard brown, it has burned.) Pour the butter into the heating cream mixture. Add the ground pecan crumbs (not the larger pieces).
Continue to heat the cream/butter/pecan mixture, whisking until the butter is fully incorporated. Pour into a bowl, cover, and chill for at least two hours (up to twenty-four hours).
While the ice cream chills, make the pecan curd. Heat water, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, brown sugar, molasses and salt in a saucepan over medium high heat, stirring occasionally until sugar dissolves. Do not let the mixture boil. Turn the heat down to medium low.
In a separate small bowl, whisk eggs and egg yolks. Scoop a ladleful of hot sugar syrup into the eggs and whisk to temper them. Continue to scoop and whisk four or five ladlefuls of syrup into the eggs, one at a time. Pour the egg mixture into the saucepan with the rest of the sugar syrup and continue to heat over medium low, stirring constantly, until the curd thickens and reaches 170 degrees.
Remove the curd from the heat. Stir in 4 T cut-up butter until it is melted. Strain the curd into a bowl. Fold in the large toasted pecan chunks. Refrigerate until the curd is thick, at least two hours.
Take the cream mixture out of the fridge. Some of the butter has likely separated and formed a grease layer on top of the cream. This is fine, but be sure to whisk the mixture until the butter becomes completely incorporated again.
Churn the cream mixture to a soft-serve consistency according to your ice cream maker manufacturer’s directions.
Spread a thin layer of the soft-serve ice cream into a the bottom of a freezer-safe container. Spread a thin layer of chilled pecan curd over the ice cream. Sprinkle a few shortbread pieces or crumbs onto this layer. Continue to alternate layers of ice cream, pecan curd, and shortbread crumbs, in whatever order strikes your fancy, until the container is full. Freeze for at least four hours.