Holy batman, this is delicious ice cream. I mean, seriously, criminally tasty. I am not trying to toot my own horn here, but I really need you to know—this one’s a keeper.
I am the first to admit that my previous ice cream attempts may have left something to be desired. I know that the heavy pounding of cinnamon, star anise and cardamom I gave my chocolate and spice was not, perhaps, the best. It’s all right. And let’s not dwell on my celery endeavor, which while it fulfilled Food52’s contest requirements, has also made it so I cannot stand the taste or smell of celery.
This though, this is a whole different situation.
We start with a vanilla-maple base. Cream, whole milk, egg yolks, vanilla bean and maple syrup. You know what I’m talking about. Then there are golden raisins to consider; these beauties have taken an extended bath in bourbon and vanilla bean. And why not some roasted cashews? Candied in a wash of butter, brown sugar, sea salt and maple syrup.
I promise, it’s a winning combination.
Makes 1.5 quarts
- ⅓ cup golden raisins
- ½ cup bourbon
- 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped, divided
- 1 egg white, beaten until a little stiff
- 2 cups unsalted cashews
- 1 cup maple syrup (grade B is best), divided
- 2 tablespoons salted butter
- ¼ cup light brown sugar
- a few pinches of sea salt, divided
- 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
- 1½ cups whole milk
- 1 ½ cups heavy cream
- 5 large egg yolks
Prepare the raisins: In a small bowl, stir together the raisins, the bourbon and the seeds of ½ the vanilla pod. Let them to mellow together, covered but unrefrigerated, for about 2 hours. Drain the bourbon before using. (I saved the vanilla-bourbon for some future cocktail.)
Make the maple-candied cashews: Preheat the oven to 300F. Melt the butter.
In a large bowl, beat the egg white until it stiffens up a little. Add the cashews, and toss until they are coated. Add ¼ cup of the maple syrup and the melted butter, and toss until coated again. Add the brown sugar, and toss until the cashews are evenly coated.
Using your hands, spread the cashews in a single layer across a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. (Your hands will act as a kind of sieve; there should be some liquid left in the bowl.) Sprinkle the cashews with some of the sea salt. Bake for about 25 minutes, breaking them up every 7 minutes or so. When they look ‘candied,’ remove them from the oven and allow them to cool.
When the nuts are cool, use a mortar and pestle to lightly crush however many cashews you’d like to add to the ice cream. (You will have some left over; keep those for snacking.)
Make the ice cream: In a small pot, reduce ¾ cup of maple syrup for about 10 minutes, or until it’s noticeably thicker.
In a medium pot, bring the milk, cream and 1 tablespoon of the sugar to a boil, whisking occasionally. Remove it from the heat when it reaches a healthy boil.
In a separate bowl, mix the egg yolks with the remaining tablespoon of sugar. Beat energetically for a few minutes (until the color of the egg yolk lightens noticeably), then slowly pour the milk/cream mixture over the yolks, whisking constantly until incorporated. Strain the mixture through a sieve.
Wipe out the medium pot, and add back the strained custard. Stir in the reduced maple syrup, the remaining vanilla seeds and a pinch of the salt. Heat on medium-low, stirring occasionally until it starts to thicken. (You are looking for 175F on a candy thermometer, or until it sticks to the back of a spoon.) Run it through a sieve again.
Cool the ice cream base over an ice bath until it is quite cold, about 45 minutes. (You could also cover and refrigerate overnight.)
Add the ice cream base to an ice cream maker and let it go for about 20 minutes. In the last minute or two, add the golden raisins and the cashews.
Freeze for about 2 hours before serving.