This Bourbon Pecan Ice Cream is the best cure for a hot summer weekend. It's cold, creamy, sweet, crunchy, and tastes bourbon-y enough to keep you happy. Top this on a Banana Foster French Toast, and you've got yourself a fire brunch item or dessert!
There's nothing that screams hot, summer, southern indulgence than a good Bourbon Pecan Ice Cream! You've got the nice and soothing cold, the crunchy pecans, and that subtle smokey bourbon flavor that can't be paired any better than with some homemade vanilla ice cream.
If you're looking for some Father's Day inspiration, I can tell you, Dads are not gonna say no to this boozy ice cream. And you know what's even better? Top this Bourbon Pecan Ice Cream on a hot boozy Banana Foster French Toast, and I think you've got Father's Day brunch covered. 😉
What kind of milk should I use for making ice cream?
I highly recommend using whole fat milk with heavy cream when making ice cream. Low fat milk doesn't have enough fat content, and fat content is what keeps your ice cream creamy. If you've ever tried making ice cream with no fat or 1% milk, your ice cream probably came out kind of icy.
Chill your cooked ice cream base in a quarter sheet pan to speed up the process.
How do I keep my ice cream soft and creamy?
Unlike homemade ice cream, commercial ice creams usually depend on the additives they add to their ice cream to achieve max creaminess and soft texture even after freezing.
To keep your homemade ice cream soft and creamy, first, make sure you are using a sufficient amount of fat in your ice cream base. I recommend using no less than 50% cream and 50% whole fat milk. You can always increase the amount of cream to milk ratio for even creamier ice creams.
A couple of other factors that can determine how soft homemade ice creams can be are the amount of sugar used and the addition of alcohol. Both of these ingredients, sugar and alcohol, naturally decrease freezing point of ice creams, which keeps them nice and soft.
If you're using a KitchenAid attachment churner to make ice cream, make sure to have your ice cream churner chilled in the freezer for several hours, preferably overnight, before you use it for churning.
How much alcohol can I add to my ice cream?
Depending on the percent of alcohol/ proof, the amount of alcohol that can added to ice cream can vary. In our experience, you can add up to ¼ cup or 4 Tablespoons of hard liquor (40% ACL/ 80 proof) to 1 quart of ice cream. If you're using alcohol with a bit lower proof, like in the 40s, you can add a bit more than the stronger liquors. But I would still taste the ice cream base to make sure that the alcohol flavor doesn't overpower anything.
So the biggest take away is that, too much alcohol will keep your ice cream soupy forever. It'll never freeze properly. Also, do make sure to use alcohols with at least 30 proof because anything below that can be tricky to incorporate.
Can I substitute other alcohol for bourbon in this ice cream?
Yes! You can absolutely substitute the bourbon in this recipe for other alcohols. I recommend a dark liquor, with around 80 proof, like dark rums, scotch, and cognac.
Can I add anything to my bourbon pecan ice cream?
Feel free to add other ingredients to your bourbon pecan ice cream! Our favorite substitute for plain pecans is adding some quick candied pecans to the ice cream. But you are welcomed to add anything from chocolate chips to nuts to pretzels.
Our quick candied pecans:
This way of candying pecans almost make them taste like pralines. So sometimes, I refer to them as my faux "pecan pralines."
- Combine 1-2 Tablespoons of unsalted butter, 3 Tablespoon of brown sugar, and a pinch of salt into a medium nonstick pan.
- Melt the mixture over medium heat while constantly stirring, until everything has dissolved and starts bubbling.
- Add the pecan pieces into the caramel and mix until the pecans are well coated.
- Transfer the hot candied pecans onto a sheet pan lined with parchment and let cool.
- Once cooled, crush the candied pecans and add it to your ice cream.
Scrape vanilla beans with the back of the knife to prevent cutting through the pods and damaging your knife.
Do I need vanilla beans to flavor my ice cream?
Nope. Vanilla beans aren't totally necessary, but it definitely will make your ice cream taste amazing. If you prefer not using vanilla beans, I would still push for getting some vanilla bean paste. With the paste, you won't even have to cut and scrape any pods, but it is a little on the pricier side. The nice thing is that, the paste lasts quite a while and gives your homemade treats feel like they were given some extra love and care. If you can't find either the whole vanilla beans or the paste, vanilla extract will pull you through for now. But, definitely give whole vanilla beans a try if you can.
Do I need to cook my ice cream base?
That depends on the type of ice cream you're making! For this recipe, yes. You have to cook the ice cream base because there's egg yolks in it. People also refer to this type of ice cream as the French style. This style of ice cream making requires you to temper the egg yolks with hot milk/cream, then cooking it till nappé. Doing so, the ice cream base becomes a "custard" which makes creamier, denser ice cream than the American/ Philadelphia style ice creams.
How thick do I need to cook my ice cream base to?
After adding all your hot milk and cream to your egg yolks, it is very important to pour the ice cream base back into the saucepan and cook the base until nappé. Nappé is simply a French/ culinary term for when a liquid/ sauce thickens to a consistency where it coats the back of a spoon. You should be able to draw a line through it and the line should remain clear.
Can I use less sugar in my ice cream base?
Yes, if you prefer, you can reduce the amount of sugar used in this recipe from ¾ cup to ⅔ cup without changing the ice cream's consistency.
If you're looking for other sweet treats or drinks, you may like these:
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Bourbon Pecan Ice Cream
- In a medium saucepan over medium high heat, combine milk, cream, and sugar. Split the vanilla bean in half, long ways, and scrape out the seed with the back of the knife. Add both the seeds and the bean into the milk mixture and bring it up to just under a boil. Make sure to stir occasionally and DO NOT curdle the milk.
- In a large heatproof bowl, whisk together the egg yolks.Once the milk mixture is heated to just under a boil, slowly drizzle it into the egg yolks while whisking to bring the yolks up to temperature. DO NOT scramble the yolks!*After at least 1½ cups of the hot milk mixture has been added to the yolks, you can increase the pour speed and not have to worry so much about scrambling the yolks.*
- When all of the milk mixture has been whisked into the yolks, pour the ice cream base back into the saucepan. Heat the ice cream base over medium heat and stir constantly until it becomes thicker and coats the back of a spoon. DO NOT scramble!
- Add bourbon to the hot ice cream base and stir to combine.
- Strain the ice cream base through a fine mesh sieve, onto a sheet pan, to remove all unwanted lumps and vanilla bean pods.Cover the ice cream base with plastic wrap, making sure the plastic is touching the entire surface of the ice cream base. Refrigerate the base until it is completely chilled.
- Pour the ice cream base into a prepared ice cream churner and churn the ice cream according to manufacture instruction. The ice cream is ready once it is just a tad softer than soft-serve consistency.For our ice cream, we used our KitchenAid churner attachment. We churned the ice cream on medium low speed until the ice cream has develop some body. Then, increase the speed to medium and churned the ice cream until just under a soft-serve consistency.*Because alcohol is added to the ice cream, the ice cream will take a longer time to churn and stay pretty soft until frozen.*
- Add the pecan pieces to the churned ice cream and give it a couple of quick mix.
- Transfer the ice cream into a a freezer-safe container, like a loaf pan, and cover with plastic wrap. Freeze the ice cream for at least 2 hours or overnight to harden.*If freezing overnight, make sure to cover the ice cream properly to prevent your ice cream from developing freezer taste.*
- Remove the ice cream from the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes to soften up slightly for a more enjoyable texture.Enjoy!
- Melt 1-2 tablespoon of unsalted butter in a medium pan on medium low heat.
- Add 3 tablespoon of of brown sugar (light or dark) and a pinch of salt to the butter and cook until everything has dissolved and the mixture is slowly bubbling.
- Add the ½ cup of pecan pieces and mix until the pecans are well coated.
- Transfer the pecans to a sheet pan lined with parchment and let cool completely. The candied pecans will harden up completely when cooled.
- Once the candied pecans are cooled, crush the pecans into pieces and add them to the ice cream base.