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Monday, March 3, 2014

Maple-Bourbon Ice Cream with Walnut Brittle

We've had some fun using our electric ice cream maker in the past making Vanilla Ice Cream with Oreos and even Guinness Ice Cream, which were both delicious.  But today we went with a very adult dessert in the form of Maple-Bourbon Ice Cream with a piece of old fashioned Walnut Brittle on top to give the dessert a little crunch.  This creation could be served to your most sophisticated guests but would be also be great served after a more casual grilled steak dinner.

The ice cream itself is rich and creamy and has that distinctive bourbon flavor, but also the rustic taste of maple syrup. Be sure to use pure maple syrup for this recipe and not pancake syrup, which is loaded with flavorings and sugar.  You need that pure maple flavor to really enhance the bourbon.

We wanted something small and crunchy to top off this ice cream but we didn't want to use a cookie, so I went in search of something a bit different.  Then I thought how cool a piece of crunchy peanut brittle would be on top, and maybe instead of peanuts I could use walnuts. Hmm.  Now I was on to something.

Making brittle from scratch was something I'd never tried, mainly because I've always had this slight fear of candy thermometers.  So I decided to give brittle a try and I'm so glad I did.  The brittle came out of the pan as this boiling, gooey, shiny lava, and after a few minutes it turned into crispy and crunchy brittle that looked like it came from a candy store.  So awesome.

The ice cream and brittle can be made a day or two early so this is a great dessert to serve guests since all of the work can be done before your company arrives. Serving small dishes of this ice cream,  each with a wedge of brittle and a few extra crumbles around the edges, this recipe will make about 10 - 12 servings.  Enjoy!!

Maple-Bourbon Ice Cream

1-1/2 cups  Whole Milk
2 cups  Heavy Cream
1/4 cup  Sugar
1/8 tsp  Salt
7  Egg Yolks
1 cup  Pure Maple Syrup
4 TB  Bourbon

In a medium saucepan combine the whole milk, cream, sugar and salt and warm the mixture over medium heat.

In a medium glass bowl, whisk the egg yolks and set aside.

When the milk mixture is hot, but not boiling, slowly pour one cup of the mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly while adding the milk mixture.  (This will temper the yolks and slowly warm the temperature without the yolks ending up as scrambled eggs.)  Pour the egg mixture back into the saucepan with the milk and cook over medium-low heat while stirring constantly.  Do not boil the mixture, but cook until the mixture thickens slightly and coats the back of a spoon.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow to cool for 30 - 45 minutes or until no longer hot to the touch.  (You can also pour the mixture into a bowl to allow it to cool faster.)  When the mixture is cool add the maple syrup and bourbon and stir, then allow to cool completely.

Pour the cooled mixture into an ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturers instructions. (This took about 25 minutes for our machine.)  Transfer ice cream to a freezer-safe container and freeze overnight.  Serve with Walnut Brittle crumbles on top.

Walnut Brittle

2 cups  Walnut Halves, broken into big and small pieces
2 cups  Sugar
1/2 cup  Water
1/2 cup  Light Corn Syrup
1/4 cup  Salted Butter, cut into slices
1/4 tsp  Baking Soda
1/2 tsp  Vanilla

Mix sugar, water and corn syrup in a large heavy saucepan.  Attach candy thermometer to side of saucepan and place pan over high heat.  Stir until sugar dissolves, then heat uncovered until the mixture reaches 310 degrees on the thermometer.  (Try not to stir the mixture very often as this will reduce the temperature.  Just stir a few times across the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to keep the mixture from scorching.)

One the mixture reaches 310 degrees, remove the pan from the heat, add butter, walnuts, soda and vanilla, and mix just enough to blend.  Allow the bubbles to subside, then pour the mixture out onto a buttered baking sheet, spreading the mixture into a thin layer using a buttered spatula.  Place the baking sheet in a cool location on a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

Once cool, the brittle will loosen easily from the baking sheet and can be cracked into smaller pieces for serving.

Note:  This same recipe can be used to make Peanut Brittle or Almond Brittle, using 2 cups of blanched peanuts or almonds in place of the walnuts.  Enjoy!!

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