Yes, I realize it’s early February and it’s snowing like crazy in many places! But this is some serious ice cream. It’s the old fashioned reliable marriage of maple and toasted walnuts and it’s really fabulous. If you're a fan of these ingredients you will be in heaven at the very first bite.
Maple syrup is a quintessentially American product that takes us back to the days before the early settlers arrived on our shores and Native Americans were tapping into the amber golden sap. They eventually traded it with the colonists and its use became widespread. Known primarily as a sweet breakfast condiment, maple syrup also finds its way into the world of pastry in many forms.
This ice cream formulation comes from David Lebovitz and it’s loaded with deliciousness. You usually have to prepare a maple syrup reduction to concentrate the flavor for desserts. But not so with this recipe. You just add a good quality syrup to the custard after it's been cooked. Lots of earthy toasted walnuts are also tossed in a warmed maple syrup punched up with a good dose of salt. When it all comes together you have a wonderfully rich ice cream with the right depth of maple flavor and creamy crunchy texture.
I know it’s cold outside. But put on a sweater and make this ice cream as soon as you can. It will be delicious company until the roads are clear, the sun is shining and the birds of spring arrive once again.
- Maple syrup is graded light amber, medium amber (Grade A) or dark amber (Grade B). The darker the syrup, the deeper the flavor. Use dark syrup for this ice cream if you can.
- Be sure to toast the walnuts for maximum flavor. Place them in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes or until they are slightly darkened and there is a toasty aroma.
- Salt is very important to pop the maple flavor in this ice cream, so be a bit generous and taste as you go.
- The walnut mixture should be made just before you're going to churn the ice cream to preserve the crunchy texture of the nuts. It should be cool enough to add to the ice cream but still sticky.
Maple Walnut Ice Cream with Wet Walnuts
adapted from Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz
Makes about 1 quart
1 1/2 C whole milk
2 T sugar
1 1/2 C heavy cream
5 egg yolks
3/4 C dark amber maple syrup
1/8 t salt
1/4 t vanilla
Makes 1 1/2 cups
1/2 C + 1 T dark maple syrup
1 1/2 C walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
big pinch of salt
Warm milk and sugar until sugar is dissolved. Pour the heavy cream into a bowl and set a mesh strainer on top.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks. Slowly add the warm milk to the egg yolks, whisking constantly to combine, then pour the mixture back into the saucepan. Return to medium low heat, stirring constantly with a heatproof spatula and making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer into the heavy cream and stir to cool. Add maple syrup, salt and vanilla. Stir to combine and taste for the right level of salt. Pour into an airtight container and chill thoroughly.
For the walnuts, heat the maple syrup until it just begins to come to a full boil. Stir in the walnuts and salt and cook until the liquid comes to a full boil again. Stir the mixture for 10 seconds, then remove from the heat and let cool completely before using. The nuts will be sticky when cooled.
Freeze according to your ice cream maker’s instructions. During the last few minutes of churning, add the walnut mixture. Pour into a clean airtight container, press a piece of plastic wrap onto the surface, cover and place in your freezer to firm up.