Ice Cream Sunday: Butter Pecan Ice Cream…and My Visit to Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams

Remember Baskin Robbins ice cream parlor and their “31 flavors” slogan? I loved going there as a kid and checking out all the flavors. Even though the signs rarely changed, I still walked up and down the glass cases, reading every flavor and testing out a handful.  Okay, so I still do that :  )

I had–and still have–three flavors that I gravitate toward: chocolate peanut butter, jamocha (coffee), and butter pecan.

In my ice cream making adventures this summer, I’ve made a chocolate peanut butter that satisfies my cravings for that flavor, while the espresso ice cream recipe I discovered has risen to my #1 frozen treat recipe for the season considering I’ve made it several times already.

And now, with great satisfaction, I add butter pecan to the trio of childhood favorites that I can make on my own.

This is one of the few ice creams I’ve made that isn’t rock hard coming straight from the freezer, hence no need to let it sit on the counter for 5-10 minutes to soften before serving. I think the step of beating the heavy cream until soft peaks form then folding it into the base creates a fluffiness that contributes to the ice cream’s soft and creamy texture. I hadn’t seen this method yet in other recipes, but I plan to test it out on some of the other flavors I enjoy making.

As a kid, I could never quite place my finger on why I liked the butter pecan so much, but now I understand it’s the melted brown sugar that creates a caramel flavor and of course, I love toasted nuts and the crunch it adds to foods.

In my previous Ice Cream Sunday post, I mentioned that hubby and I would be venturing to Columbus, Ohio and I was very excited to visit Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. We found one of the shops at this ultra cool place called North Market, sort of like an indoor flea market: lots of stalls with vendors selling artisan breads, ice cream, spices, chocolates, meats and fish, arts and crafts, etc. I was in both shopper’s heaven and foodie’s heaven.

I felt like a little kid about to burst with excitement when we actually arrived in front of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. I told the young man behind the counter that I had traveled all the way from California for this ice cream and would it be possible to test every flavor. Bless both him for allowing me to taste each and every one of the 29 flavors and my hubby for patiently waiting. Actually, the young worker said it was quite entertaining to watch my expressions and reactions to each flavor, and I must admit I had loads of fun taking my time savoring each concoction. Honestly, that was one of my highlights of our trip to the east, which included five days exploring historic sites in Washington D.C. yet this ranked over much of what I saw there. Okay, so I have a huge sweet tooth.

My favorite flavors were the fruity and sorbet ones. I ended up getting a triple scoop (hey, it’s not like I can hop in the car and drive down the street to Jeni’s Ice Creams any ol’ day I feel like it, so I splurged!): lemon and blueberries frozen yogurt, cherry lambic sorbet, and riesling poached pear sorbet. Mmmmmmmmmm…

One of the last flavors I tested was her Bourbon Buttered Pecan, which though yummy definitely left a strong taste of bourbon on the palate. I prefer the nonalcoholic version, to tell ya the truth, so I’ll stick to the recipe featured in this post.

Butter Pecan Ice Cream

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 2 large eggs (I also added 2 more yolks because I had them leftover from another recipe and figured they would add to the overall creaminess)
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped toasted pecans

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine the brown sugar, water, and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Boil the syrup for 2 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a bowl you can use in a double boiler, beat the eggs. Slowly beat in the syrup.
  3. Cook the mixture in a double boiler over boiling water, stirring constantly, until temperature reaches 175 degrees F and coats the back of a spoon (note: candy thermometers can be found at the grocery store for less than $10, but you can use the “coat the back of the spoon” as your readiness indicator). Do not allow the mixture to boil or the eggs will begin to cook.
  4. Add the unsalted butter and stir until melted.
  5. Strain into a medium bowl and refrigerate, covered, until cold–at least 8 hours and preferably overnight.
  6. When cooled, add the whole milk and the vanilla extract; mix well to combine.
  7. Beat the heavy cream until soft peaks form; fold into the egg mixture.
  8. Pour into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s directions.
  9. Fold in the chopped pecans before transferring ice cream to a container (I added my pecans the last 5 minutes of churning).

SOURCE: Brown Eyed Baker who adapted from Joy of Cooking

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