Salted Butter Pecan-Bourbon Ice Cream

How much do I love Ben & Jerry’s ice cream?  Well, a lot.  Sure, there are some really amazing frozen sweets purveyors out there now, but I adore Ben & Jerry’s for their nostalgia factor.  I can still remember trying Cherry Garcia for the first time, The Macallan and I sharing a pint and two spoons on a lazy western Washington afternoon.

Salted Butter Pecan-Bourbon Ice Cream.  Yup, it's pretty tasty.

Salted Butter Pecan-Bourbon Ice Cream. Yup, it’s pretty tasty.

A few years ago, my boys got me an ice cream freezer bowl insert to go with my stand mixer—this gift being one in a long line of kitchen gadgets given in the hopes that they would benefit as taste testers from my use of it.  I make ice cream all year-round, and keep the clean freezer canister in my basement trunk freezer so it’s glacial cold and ready to go at a moment’s notice.I didn’t, however, LOVE making ice cream until I picked up a copy of Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book.

Workman Publishing (1987)

Workman Publishing (1987)

Most of the ice cream recipes I’d used up until then involved lengthy custard-making and tempering on the stove instructions, followed by extended cooling times, making the ice cream experience a day-long affair.   Ben & Jerry cut right to the chase: as long as you use really great ingredients and a SUPER cold (again, your case freezer is your friend) finishing freeze, you can make superb ice cream within an hour.  And rarely use your stovetop.  Using their recipe bases, I only have to clean two vessels:  the stand mixing bowl, and the freezer bowl.  Done and done, my friends.

One of my favorite adaptations from their cookbook is Butter Pecan Ice Cream.  It’s not for everyone: you can both taste and FEEL the little beads of butter bursting on your tongue.  I use a combination of white and brown sugar for the ice cream base, and add a bit of bourbon (of course!).  I’ve experimented with a few different kinds of salt, and enjoy the savory edge of smoked sea salts in this recipe- just use a pale colored salt, otherwise your ice cream will look muddy.

Neither KitchenAid, nor Maker's Mark, nor Bourbon Barrel Foods, nor my hens have paid me to promote their products.  I just like their stuff.

Neither KitchenAid, nor Maker’s Mark, nor Bourbon Barrel Foods, nor my hens have paid me to promote their products. I just like their stuff.

Salted Butter Pecan-Bourbon Ice Cream  (Makes 1 generous quart). 

½ cup (1 stick) butter

1 cup pecan halves

½  tsp. smoked sea salt (plus extra for garnish)

2 large fresh eggs

½ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup light brown sugar, packed

1 ½ cups heavy or whipping cream

1 ½ cups half-and-half

2 Tbs. bourbon

Melt the butter in a heavy skillet over low heat.  Add the pecans and salt and sauté, stirring constantly, until the pecans start to turn brown and are crisp, but don’t overcook or they’ll be soggy in the final product (yuck!).  Drain off the butter into a small bowl and reserve; put the drained pecans in another bowl and cool.

Whisk the eggs in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes); whisk in the sugars a little at a time and continue blending until completely combined (about 1 minute more).  With the mixer on low speed, pour in the bourbon, cream, and half-and-half, increase speed to medium and pour in the butter in a narrow stream; whisk for another minute.

Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze following the manufacturer’s instructions.

After the ice cream stiffens (about 2 minutes before it is done), add the pecans, then continue freezing until the ice cream is ready.

Sprinkle a little pinch more sea salt on top of each serving. 

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Suddenly Summer!: Cucumber-Basil Martini with a Salish smoked black sea salt rim

Cucumber Basil Martini

Cucumber Basil Martini

Holy hot spike, Batman!  We went straight from snow-covered daffodils to wilting tulips to hopeful tomato plants all in one day here in the Wasatch Mountains.  Even broke some early spring temps records yesterday.  In celebration (and yes, respite… I’m not quite ready for the 90s yet) I broke out some of my favorite summer flavors:  cucumber, basil, and the floral melody of gin.  I’ve wanted to try out some of my lovely salt collection for use on more than finishing pan-seared meats, roasted potatoes, and salad dressing.   These salts I’ve gathered mostly at my local Tony Caputo’s Market – where they thoughtfully provide 99 cent sample cups of various and sundry goodness so those fickle souls such as I can dabble and snack before commitment.   In this case, I used a finer-grained black Salish smoked sea salt on top of a cucumber-rubbed glass rim.  Delightful.  Yay for Spring!  Or at least the 3 hours of it we got this year.

A sampling of sea salts.  In this case, I used the Salish Black Smoked Sea Salt from Caputo's Market, but I also like the coarser grained Durango smoked grey salt for this cocktail.

A sampling of sea salts. In this case, I used the Salish Black Smoked Sea Salt from Caputo’s Market, but I also like the coarser grained Durango smoked grey salt for this cocktail.

Cucumber Basil & Smoked black sea salt Martini

Freeze a martini glass, or add to the glass several cubes of ice to chill and set aside.

Just before assembling, rub ½ of the glass rim with the cut edge of a cucumber and dip into the smoked sea salt of your choice.

 To a cocktail shaker, add:

1 small cocktail cucumber, sliced thin (about 4 slices of cucumber- reserve 1 slice for garnish)

4-5 leaves fresh basil

2 oz. very floral gin (I’m a fan of Broker’s for this cocktail)

½ oz. dry vermouth

4-5 ice cubes

Shake vigorously until well-frosted and frothy (about 15 seconds)

Strain into the chilled and salty goodness of that martini glass.  Garnish with a cucumber slice and a sprig of baby basil.

Isn’t that refreshing?

Now, don’t y’all put away your parkas and gloves yet, my mountain friends.  Just having made this cocktail guarantees we’ll have a freezing spell next week.  I’ve got my towels ready to cover my ‘maters, just in case.