Alright, enough healthy greens for one week – how about some very decadent ice cream? I almost feel I should apologize for this one because 1) it’s so rich and well, decadent; and 2) because I too grow tired of the browned butter craze. I mean, it’s good and all, but sometimes it really is okay to bake with regular butter, you know? However, in the end I can’t really regret making and sharing this wonderful concoction, because here the browned butter really shines.
It’s not hidden in a baked good, it’s one of the main components of an ice cream, and you really get to experience browned butter the way it was meant to be tasted. Which is a beautiful thing.
This ice cream seriously lacks restraint. I hesitated to even make it because of that, because I’m usually NOT a fan of over-the-top dishes. You add in too many flavors and they can start to compete with each other, or a flavor that is supposed to and should stand out gets lost. But something about this recipe drew me in, and I have to say it works, despite its lack of simplicity.
The candied bacon was lovely, and added this wonderful salty note to the sweet creaminess. So it’s the sweet-salty yin-yang we all love. Plus it added the crunch factor, and I’m such a sucker for crunchy bits in my ice cream (or sorbet, or frozen yogurt…) The bacon and browned butter served as complements, not tense opponents as you might worry they would. In the end, I’m quite happy to feature it here and share it with you, even if it was somewhat out of my wheelhouse. I hope you enjoy it!
Source: adapted from New York a la Cart by Alexandra Penfold and Siobhan Wallace
½ lb. thick-cut bacon, sliced
½ cup brown sugar
4 tbs unsalted butter
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
6 egg yolks
1/8 tsp kosher salt
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
2 tbs maple syrup
2 tbs bacon fat (from the candied bacon)
½ tsp vanilla extract
First make the CANDIED BACON: place a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and begin browning. Once the bacon is about three-quarters of the way to crispy, strain off the bacon fat and reserve. Return the pan to the heat and add the brown sugar. Stir to coat the bacon and melt the sugar. Continue cooking the bacon until fully crisped and candied. Remove the bacon and any little crispy brown sugar bits to a plate with a slotted spoon. The bacon will clump together – this is fine, don’t worry about it. Let cool at least 15 minutes.
Once cool, transfer the bacon clumps to a cutting board and finely chop. Set aside.
Now make the ICE CREAM, starting with the browned butter. Place a small, stainless steel pot or skillet over medium-low heat. Add the butter and let it melt, swirling the pan as needed. After the butter melts, it will begin to foam and sputter. This is the water evaporating from the butter solids. The butter will change in color from yellow to golden brown flecked with browned bits. When the sputtering and foaming has slowed and the butter is the right color, turn off the heat. Set this aside to cool a bit. This can happen pretty quickly so don’t walk away. If nothing is happening on medium-low, cautiously raise the heat to medium. But again, don’t walk away!
Now move on to the base of the ice cream. Whisk together the egg yolks, salt, sugar and brown sugar in a small mixing bowl. Combine the cream and milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Scald the liquid (it’s scalded when you see bubbled appearing around the edges of the pot. Do not boil. Remove from the heat.
Add about ½ cup of the scalded cream mixture to the egg yolk mixture, drizzling it in very slowly and whisking constantly; this will temper your eggs and prevent them from scrambling. Now slowly pour the egg mixture into the remaining cream mixture in the stockpot, whisking continuously. Set the pot over medium-low heat and stir with a rubber spatula for 5-8 minutes, until the mixture thickens and will coat the back of the spatula or a wooden spoon. Pour the custard through a sieve into a clean, medium mixing bowl. Stir in the reserved browned butter, maple syrup, reserved bacon fat, and vanilla. Place this mixing bowl in an ice bath and stir about 5 minutes, or more if necessary, to let it come down to room temperature. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly over the surface of the custard (to prevent getting the dreaded skin) and refrigerate until very chilled, at least 4 hours.
Once chilled, churn in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. In the last 5 minutes of churning, add in the reserved candied bacon bits. When done churning, transfer the ice cream to a freezer-safe container and chill until set up, about 2 hours.