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This is really, really good. Butter Pecan has always been my favorite flavor of ice cream, long surpassing either vanilla or chocolate. Fudge Royal would come in second, with nutty coconut falling in at third. But butter pecan is my favorite. Did I tell you that?

I’ve been wanting to make this for you for over a year now. With a few small changes, it’s an adaptation of a recipe from a friend of a friend.

The original recipe called for maple flavored pancake syrup. I’ve opted to use real maple syrup instead, and I’ve changed the eggs and cooking method for the custard. I hope my friends will approve, and I hope you will like the changes should you decide to make this yourself. I really don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Did I happen to mention that it is really good?

I shared some of my ice cream making memories last year with a recipe for peach preserve ice cream and Sunday Socials. You can read that here on Our State Eats, or see the full step-by-step over on my site at Taste of Southern.

Isn’t it great that ice cream isn’t just for the summer? We enjoy it all year long now, and with fresh local fruit and berries coming in, we can have a good variety of flavors to select from. Peach, strawberry, blueberry anyone? I thought so.

I’ve got a couple more ice cream memories below, but if you’re ready, get out the ice cream maker and let’s get cooking!

What you’ll need to make the dish:

Toasted Pecans

  • 1 1/2 cups pecans, chopped
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Ice Cream Custard

  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 6 egg yolks, beaten
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup maple flavored pancake syrup
  • 5 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Butter Pecan Ice Cream Recipe (PDF).


Homemade butter pecan ice cream: You'll need these ingredients.

Homemade butter pecan ice cream: You’ll need these ingredients.


Place your pecans in a medium sized mixing bowl. I'm using whole pecans from the N.C. State Farmers Market so I know they are locally grown.

Place your pecans in a medium sized mixing bowl. I’m using whole pecans from the N.C. State Farmers Market so I know they are locally grown. Chop.


Add the melted butter.

Add the melted butter.


Add the granulated sugar.

Add the granulated sugar.


Add the salt.

Add the salt.


Stir everything up really well, making sure all the pieces are coated with butter and sugar.

Stir everything up really well, making sure all the pieces are coated with butter and sugar.


Realize that you don't have any parchment paper, and substitute by placing aluminum foil on a baking sheet. Parchment paper would be best if you have it on hand. Either way, spread the coated pecans out across the pan in a single layer.

Realize that you don’t have any parchment paper, and substitute by placing aluminum foil on a baking sheet. Parchment paper would be best if you have it on hand. Either way, spread the coated pecans out across the pan in a single layer.


Place the pecans in a pre-heated 350ºF oven. Let them bake for 10-12 minutes until lightly toasted. Remove them from the oven when done, set aside, and let completely cool.

Place the pecans in a pre-heated 350ºF oven. Let them bake for 10-12 minutes until lightly toasted. Remove them from the oven when done, set aside, and let completely cool.


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Separate the egg yolks. I really do have six in that bowl. I’m using local eggs from a friend of mine and it seems they have tougher shells but thinner coverings over the yolks. I always seem to break one or two. That’s why we always suggest that you break them one at a time over a separate bowl so you don’t end up with any more egg white in the yolks than you can help.


Whisk the yolks until creamy.

Whisk the yolks until creamy.


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Add the packed cup of brown sugar. Remember to pack the sugar down into the cup until it’s good and full. I’m using dark brown sugar here, but light brown will work as well.


Add the granulated sugar.

Add the granulated sugar.

Add level tablespoons of corn starch. This will act as a thickener for the custard, and it also helps to prevent the eggs from curdling. Did you know that already?

Add level tablespoons of corn starch. This will act as a thickener for the custard, and it also helps to prevent the eggs from curdling. Did you know that already?


Whisk everything together really well.

Whisk everything together really well.


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Add the maple syrup. You can save a few dollars by substituting maple flavored pancake syrup if you like, or if you just prefer the taste of it better. You really should try this with some good maple syrup though.


Whisk again until everything is fully combined. Set the mixture aside for the moment.

Whisk again until everything is fully combined. Set the mixture aside for the moment.


Add the milk into a large sauce pot.

Add the milk into a large sauce pot.


You'll also want to set up a thermometer so you can bring the milk up to the proper temperature.

You’ll also want to set up a thermometer so you can bring the milk up to the proper temperature.


Stir, stir, and keep stirring, all the way to the bottom, as the Milk is brought up to 170°F. It's really easy to have some milk sticking to the bottom of the pot. Just keep stirring and watching the thermometer until it reaches the proper temperature.

Stir, stir, and keep stirring, all the way to the bottom, as the Milk is brought up to 170°F. It’s really easy to have some milk sticking to the bottom of the pot. Just keep stirring and watching the thermometer until it reaches the proper temperature.


Let's temper the eggs. When the milk reaches 170°F, remove it from the stove top. We're going to use the hot milk to

Let’s temper the eggs. When the milk reaches 170°F, remove it from the stove top. We’re going to use the hot milk to “temper” the eggs. If you just poured the milk into the eggs, they would probably turn into scrambled eggs, something we don’t want to happen.

Begin by adding just a small amount of the hot milk at a time, into the egg mixture. Whisk it quickly and constantly the entire time. Gradually continue to add the milk until you’ve got it all added into the egg mixture. Once you’ve got about half of the milk mixed in, you’re pretty safe to go ahead and add the remainder. Just keep whisking it together as you go.


Keep whisking until all the milk has been added to the egg mixture.

Keep whisking until all the milk has been added to the egg mixture.


Pour the milk and egg mixture back into your cleaned sauce pot. Be sure to wash out any old milk that might have dried around the inside edge of the pot, or stuck to the bottom.

Pour the milk and egg mixture back into your cleaned sauce pot. Be sure to wash out any old milk that might have dried around the inside edge of the pot, or stuck to the bottom.


Place the sauce pot back on your stove top. Insert the thermometer again, and bring this mixture back up to 170°F. Again, you'll have to continually stir the pot so it doesn't stick to the bottom or burn.

Place the sauce pot back on your stove top. Insert the thermometer again, and bring this mixture back up to 170°F. Again, you’ll have to continually stir the pot so it doesn’t stick to the bottom or burn.


When it reaches 170 degrees, the mixture should have thickened. You can tell if it's ready by dragging your finger across the back of the spoon you've been stirring with. If it leaves a trail, as pictured above, your custard is ready. If not, continue to stir and cook until it thickens up.

When it reaches 170 degrees, the mixture should have thickened. You can tell if it’s ready by dragging your finger across the back of the spoon you’ve been stirring with. If it leaves a trail, as pictured above, your custard is ready. If not, continue to stir and cook until it thickens up.


When the mixture has properly thickened, remove the pot from the stove top and place it in your sink. You could sit it on a folded dishcloth if needed. Close up the sinks drain, and start adding cold water into the sink.

When the mixture has properly thickened, remove the pot from the stove top and place it in your sink. You could sit it on a folded dishcloth if needed. Close up the sinks drain, and start adding cold water into the sink.


Continue to stir the mixture as you let the cold water come up around the outside of the pot. Make sure no water gets into the mixture and only bring the water level up to about half way of the pot. If you add too much water, the pot might start to float away and could tip over.

Continue to stir the mixture as you let the cold water come up around the outside of the pot. Make sure no water gets into the mixture and only bring the water level up to about half way of the pot. If you add too much water, the pot might start to float away and could tip over.


Resist the urge to scrape the sides of the pot. You might see some of the custard clinging to the inside walls of the pot as you proceed. If you stir this in, it might cause some lumps in your finished product. Just let it stay right where it's at.

Resist the urge to scrape the sides of the pot. You might see some of the custard clinging to the inside walls of the pot as you proceed. If you stir this in, it might cause some lumps in your finished product. Just let it stay right where it’s at.


When the mixture has cooled sufficiently, pour it into another container so you can refrigerate it. You could place a sheet of plastic wrap over the top of the custard, letting it actually touch the custard, so a

When the mixture has cooled sufficiently, pour it into another container so you can refrigerate it. You could place a sheet of plastic wrap over the top of the custard, letting it actually touch the custard, so a “skin” doesn’t form on it while it’s under refrigeration. Either way, cover the cooled custard and refrigerate overnight if possible. The mixture needs to be good and cold before you continue with the recipe.


Let's make ice cream: When you're ready to make the ice cream, remove the toasted pecans from the pan. These sort of ran together as they were in the oven. Don't ask me what happened to the pecans on the right hand side of this tray. I ain't telling. :)

Let’s make ice cream: When you’re ready to make the ice cream, remove the toasted pecans from the pan. These sort of ran together as they were in the oven. Don’t ask me what happened to the pecans on the right hand side of this tray. I’m not telling. 🙂


You'll need to crumble these back up, or maybe just toss them back into a small bowl and chop them a little more.

You’ll need to crumble these back up, or maybe just toss them back into a small bowl and chop them a little more.


Add the toasted pecans into the custard.

Add the toasted pecans into the custard.


Add the vanilla extract.

Add the vanilla extract.


Add the whipping cream.

Add the whipping cream.


Realize that you really should be using a larger bowl, but stir the mixture fully to combine. To be honest, I removed a bit of the custard before I added the pecans and the cream. I placed it in the can of my ice cream freezer. I still ended up with a full bowl, but I stirred it carefully and didn't spill but just a little.

Realize that you really should be using a larger bowl, but stir the mixture fully to combine. To be honest, I removed a bit of the custard before I added the pecans and the cream. I placed it in the can of my ice cream freezer. I still ended up with a full bowl, but I stirred it carefully and didn’t spill but just a little.


Add the mixture to the can of your ice cream maker.

Add the mixture to the can of your ice cream maker.


You'll need to process the custard to the manufacturer’s directions for your particular machine. I like my old wooden bucket ice cream maker, but I really like the fact that it's

You’ll need to process the custard to the manufacturer’s directions for your particular machine. I like my old wooden bucket ice cream maker, but I really like the fact that it’s “electric.” You didn’t really think I’d be cranking this by hand did you? I love the old ways, and I did that as a child, but I’m willing to just keep those as memories while the electric motor does its thing.


You'll end up with a soft ice cream when it's properly churned. Want a taste? If I must say so myself, this stuff was GOOD!

You’ll end up with a soft ice cream when it’s properly churned. Want a taste? If I must say so myself, this stuff was GOOD!


Ripen and harden the mixture according to your machine. The finished ice cream can then be packed into storage containers and frozen for later if need be. Did I mention that this stuff was really, really good?

Ripen and harden the mixture according to your machine. The finished ice cream can then be packed into storage containers and frozen for later if need be. Did I mention that this stuff was really, really good?


Enjoy! Enjoy!

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Gordon is an award-winning food preservationist and fisherman based in Sanford. He regularly contributes recipes at ourstate.com and operates a Southern recipe blog, tasteofsouthern.com.