This is one of the best traditional ice creams. My recipe is based on that found in Ben and Jerry’s® "Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book.©" I modified their recipe to get what I want, but more to the point, they miss telling the home chef a few important procedural considerations, which is not typical of them. Thus, it took me a time or so to get it right. Now it is perfect and you get the benefit of my experience.
The missing information concerned how to best introduce the butter to the ice cream base and how to avoid capturing unwanted particles in the melted butter that result when sautéing the pecans. Simply adding the melted butter from the skillet to the sweet cream base as they state results in chunks of butter in the final ice cream and unwanted small gritty pecan particles from the sauté process, and both of those are bad. Worry not. The problem is solved. See below.
Ingredients: (makes about 1½ quarts of ice cream)
Sweet Cream Base:
2 extra large or jumbo eggs
2 cups heavy cream
¾ cup sugar
½ cup half and half (I prefer this rather than using only milk)
½ cup whole milk
1 stick of butter
1½ cups pecan halves (I use 50% more than Ben and Jerry)
½ tsp. salt
Melt the butter on low heat in a skillet. Add the salt and the pecan halves and stir to mix. Sauté the pecan halves until they are crisp but not burnt, on low heat. Turn off the heat. Remove the pecan halves to a dish for about two minutes to drain off the excess butter, then put the pecan halves on a dinner plate, arranging them to keep them from touching each other. Drain the butter from the first pecan dish back into the skillet. Clean the dish and then pour the melted butter from the skillet into the dish, avoiding the last part of the butter that contains unwanted sautéed pecan particles. Set the dish aside. Put the plate of sautéed pecan halves into the freezer.
Make the sweet cream base. Use your electric mixer to beat the eggs on medium speed, then pause to add the sugar and resume mixing. Mix thoroughly. Slowly add the cream and the half and half while continuing to mix. Put the milk into the bowl with the melted butter and heat it in the microwave oven for about 30 seconds to 1 minute on full power. Blend the warm milk and melted butter completely with a whisk then slowly add that mixture to the sweet cream base while mixing on medium speed.
Transfer the mixture to a gelato maker and turn it on. After about 25 minutes check the ice cream to see if it is relatively but not completely stiff. When it is fairly stiff add the pecan halves slowly and mix for two minutes.
Transfer the ice cream from the gelato maker into a good quality 1½ quart plastic container that has a tight fitting lid. Put the lid on the ice cream and put the container into a deep freeze for four to six hours.
The ice cream is then ready to serve. It is delicious!
The temperature of a deep freeze is typically much lower than that of the freezer of your refrigerator, and that means the deep freeze is far superior to your refrigerator freezer in the last step of final freezing of the ice cream. Use your deep freeze and the ice cream will be ready within a few hours. Conversely, the freezer of your refrigerator may not properly freeze the ice cream at all, and even if it does you may have to wait until the next day to eat the ice cream properly frozen.