02 August 2012

Brown Butter Ice Cream

It is ridiculously stinkin' hot around here.   It has been over 100° for over a week again and there is no relief in sight.  Ice cream provides a little coolness.

Brown butter is a revelation.  I put it in anything I possibly can.  Butter is already one of my favorite ingredients -- as it should be for any baker.  If you have never had brown butter, the transformation is just plain magical.  Browning butter transforms the flavor into a nutty, toasty combination that'll make you weak in the knees.  I could go on and on and on and on.......This time I decided to put brown butter in ice cream.

This ice cream is a little bit tricky, but mainly because of the brown butter.  There is one key to making perfect brown butter -- Don't be a wimp!!!  If you take the brown butter off the heat too early you miss out on all that wonderful flavor development that comes from fully browning all those lovely bits on the bottom of the pan.  Here's how you make brown butter:

1.  Put the butter in a saucepan or skillet on medium heat and leave it alone.

the brown butter color you are striving for
2.  A few minutes after the butter has melted it will start making a sizzling sound.  The sizzling has been described as sounding like a crowd politely clapping.  That is the perfect metaphor.  When you hear this sound keep your hands off the pan.

3.  After the clapping sound your butter will develop foam on the top.  Once your butter gets foam on the top, swirl the pan around every now and then so that you can see the bottom of the pan.  Don't walk away because there is a fine line between perfectly browned butter and burnt butter.  Use your nose -- it is your best friend in the process of browning butter.  Once your butter smells superbly nutty and is a nice toasty brown color take it off the heat.  Again, don't be a wimp and take it off the heat too early.  Your nose will tell you when that nutty flavor is fully developed.

Don't let the brown butter intimidate you and scare you away from making this ice cream.  It truly is delicious.  The best flavor comparison I have been able to come up with is that the finished ice cream tastes like butter pecan ice cream if it had no pecan chunks in it.  My friends who tasted this ice cream also said they could taste brown sugar, toffee, coffee, and almonds.  All those tastes are part of the complex wonderful-ness that is brown butter; you just can't put your finger on that flavor, but you love it anyway.

Brown Butter Ice Cream
makes about 4 cups

Print me, Please!!!

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 cup 2% milk
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
6 egg yolks

Brown the butter in a medium to large saucepan (see the instructions above); pour into a heatproof bowl and set aside.

In the saucepan you used to brown the butter, combine the cream, half and half, milk, vanilla, and 1/2 cup of the brown sugar.  Warm up the mixture until it is almost boiling  Do not boil it. 

Meanwhile, in a bowl, beat together the egg yolks and the remaining 1/2 cup of brown sugar on medium speed until smooth and creamy.  With the mixer running, add the slightly cooled brown butter very slowly.

When the cream mixture begins to foam, add the egg yolk mixture, stirring as you pour it in.  Stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, cook the custard to 175° or until it coats the back of a spoon.  Remove immediately from the heat.

Pour the custard through a strainer into a clean, heatproof bowl.  Cover the custard loosely with plastic wrap, let it cool slightly, then put it in the refrigerator for a least 4 hours, or until very cold.

There are two ways you can make the custard into ice cream.  If you have an ice cream maker, pour the custard into the bowl of your ice cream maker and process it according to the manufacturer's instructions.  If you do not have an ice cream maker, transfer the custard to your freezer.  Stir the custard every 30-45 minutes, replacing the cover after each stirring, until the custard reaches the consistency of a thick milkshake.  After it gets to milkshake consistency, freeze until the ice cream is solid enough to scoop.

You can serve the ice cream on it own, sprinkled with nuts, drizzled with chocolate  or caramel sauce, with cookies on the side, etc....Take your pick.

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