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Brown Butter Ice Cream with Cranberry & Candied Pecan Swirl

Course Dessert
Keyword gluten-free, ice cream


Brown Butter Ice Cream

  • 4 oz (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Candied Pecans

  • 6 egg yolks
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 vanilla bean pod split lengthwise and scraped
  • Candied Pecans
  • 1 cup pecans chopped
  • 2 tablespoons egg white
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • Optional spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom

Cranberry Wine Sauce

  • 12 oz (1 package) fresh cranberries (about 3 cups)
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 Tbs fresh grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • Pinch of kosher salt


For the Brown Butter Ice Cream Base:

  • Place butter in a medium frying pan and melt completely over medium-high heat. Cook the butter, stirring gently until the milk solids start to turn light brown. Note: The milk solids will brown quickly, so don't be afraid to pull the pan off the heat to slow the browning down if you're unsure how quickly they're toasting. The butter will give off a nutty, toasty, and slightly caramelized scent when browned. Pour the browned butter into a small bowl and set aside.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk both the coconut and brown sugars with the salt. Add in the egg yolks and whisk well (reserve the egg whites for the candied pecans and other baking).
  • Add the browned butter to the sugar and egg mixture.
  • In a large saucepan, bring the cream, the whole milk, the vanilla pod, and scrapings to a light simmer. Remove from heat, and discard the vanilla pod.
  • Working in batches to prevent scrambling the eggs, gradually whisk the warm cream mixture into the sugar-egg mixture.
  • Return this mixture to your saucepan and heat on medium for 5 minutes. Then, pour the mixture into a heat-safe bowl, and let cool on the counter slightly before storing in the refrigerator to fully chill, at least 6 hours or overnight.
  • While the ice cream custard is chilling, make the candied pecans and cranberry wine sauce.

For the Candied Pecans:

  • Preheat the oven to 300°F. In a small bowl, combine the pecans, egg white, coconut sugar, and salt. Optional: toss with a dash of seasonal spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom, to taste. Stir well to coat the pecans, then spread the mixture onto a nonstick cookie sheet or parchment paper-lined pan.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes, stirring a couple of times to evenly toast. The nuts will be done when they're lightly toasted, and the egg white mixture is almost fully dry.
  • Give the nuts one more toss after removing them from the oven to keep them from sticking to the cookie sheet, and then let cool fully, and chop even smaller to blend with the ice cream more easily.

For the Cranberry Sauce:

  • Combine all the sauce ingredients in a medium pot over medium heat. Simmer gently until most of the cranberries have popped and the sauce is thick and syrupy, about 20 to 30 minutes. Set aside to chill.

Churn the Ice Cream:

  • Once your ice cream base/custard has cooled completely, process it in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. Transfer about a third of the ice cream to a freezer-friendly container. Add a few dollops of chilled cranberry sauce and a sprinkling of candied pecans. Top with another layer of ice cream, and repeat. You’ll probably have leftover pecans and cranberry sauce unless you want a lot of inclusions in your ice cream. Save the extra nuts for a topping.
  • Use a chopstick or a skewer to poke into the ice cream, and give the components a good swirl, both horizontally and vertically.


  • Freeze the ice cream for a few hours to firm up before serving. Let sit at room temperature before serving for ease of scooping.


Recipe adapted from Vermont Creamery