Happy dance alert! Happy dance alert! Now, you must imagine me saying it like the Weinerschnitzel commercial, "weiner dude alert, weiner dude alert!" But no weiners involved here - just yummy ice cream. This dish will definitely make you do the happy dance! Ever heard of Butter Pecan Ice Cream? Well, say HELLO to his little friend Salted Butter Almond Ice Cream. This is a new and improved "grown-up" version since it's rich, sweet, and dreamy...oops, I meant creamy and kicked up a notch with some Fleur De Sel sea salt. Butter Pecan is one of my favorite ice creams but since I get to control what goes into my homemade version, I knew I wanted to turn it into a sweet and salty combo. The Fleur de Sel enhances all those sweet flavors and takes you into OMG Ice Cream HEAVEN! If you've never heard of Fleur de Sel, it's a salt you use to finish a dish and it adds a fresh, smooth, salty bite that is quite palatable on the tongue. Since it's not as harsh as table salt it's a nice compliment to any dish - especially sweet desserts. I highly recommend splurging and buying some.
I made this ice cream in celebration of our country's National Ice Cream Month. Who knew there was such a thing? If only we could celebrate National Ice Cream month everyday. Well, maybe we'll just have to start a new tradition in the house of the NuM NuM! I know others will be pleased since it means I'm one step closer to calling myself an AMERICAN! (That's a shout out to my lobster and C.G.W.M.)
NOTE: This ice cream was quite cumbersome to make and I did run into a few hiccups along the way but the end product was SUPERB! The recipe below is my adapted version and I put my notes in parenthesis, but if you want the original recipe just click on the link.
Salted Butter Almond Ice Cream
Adapted from All Recipes
Makes two quarts
1/2 cup = 210 calories
• 3/4 cup whole almonds
• 2 tablespoon butter
• 1/4 tsp sea salt
• 1 1/2 cup brown sugar, not packed down*
• 4 eggs, beaten
• 1 1/2 cups fat free milk
• 1 1/2 cups half-and-half cream
• 1 cup heavy cream
• 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. In a medium sized heat-safe bowl (metal, ceramic, or glass), whisk together the eggs until well blended. Set aside.
2. Pour the heavy cream into a metal bowl set in a larger bowl of ice and set a medium-mesh sieve on top. Set aside.
3. In a medium thick-bottomed saucepan on medium heat, melt the butter cook it, stirring constantly, until it just begins to brown. Add the brown sugar and salt. Stir until the sugar completely melts.
4. Slowly add the milk and half an half, stirring to incorporate. It will foam up initially, so make sure you are using a pan with high enough sides. Heat until all of the sugar is completely dissolved. (I don't think my sugar completely melted so it got hard once I poured in the half an half and milk. If this happens to you, just be patient and the sugar will automatically release from the bottom and dissolve into the liquid) Do not let boil or the mixture may curdle. (mine ended up curdling but I continued with the recipe)
5. Whisk in hand, slowly pour half of the milk and sugar mixture into the eggs, whisking constantly to incorporate. Then add the warmed egg mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining milk sugar mixture.
6. Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a wooden or heatproof rubber spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula, about 5-7 minutes (my entire liquid ended up curdling and almost ended up looking like scrambled eggs and never thickened but I continued onward)
7. Pour the custard through the sieve and stir it into the cream. (since my liquid curdled I pushed most of the liquid through the sieve and left a lot of the curdled bits in the sieve and threw it away - the cream/custard mixture was very liquidy before I put it into the machine but once it churned it was fine) Add vanilla and stir until cool over the ice bath. Chill mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator.
8. While the mixture is chilling, preheat the oven to 350°F. Lay out the almonds on a roasting pan in a single layer coat with some melted butter or butter PAM spray and sprinkle with fleur de sel. Bake for 6-8 minutes, until lightly toasted and fragrant. Let cool. Once cool, roughly chop the almonds and set aside.
9. Pour chilled cream mixture into ice cream maker and churn for 25 minutes or to desired consistency. Add chopped almonds and churn for another 5 minutes. Eat right away or put into air tight container with plastic wrap touching the ice cream so crystals do not form on it.
*You could probably get away with using 1 1/4 cups of brown sugar I imagine - but I didn't try it