Capture seasonal and holiday flavors in one scoop of this brown butter ice cream with candied pecans and a cranberry wine sauce swirl.
Are You Here for the Recipe?
Brown Butter Ice Cream with Candied Pecans & Cranberry Wine Sauce Swirl
This brown butter ice cream has three main components: the brown butter ice cream base, a homemade cranberry wine sauce, and candied pecans. Each component can stand on its own, so if you’re feeling overwhelmed, skip something.
Waste Not Want Not: Don’t Pitch the Wine
I know “they” say the better the wine, the better the recipe, but I’m an advocate for waste not, want not. Every now and then, I won’t get to that last glass of wine in the bottle, but rather than pitch it, I add it to the cooking wine bottle. Combine that wine with cranberries, pure maple syrup, and Chinese Five Spice, and you have a cranberry sauce that will wow the holiday table.
This ice cream recipe will yield more cranberry sauce than you need for the swirl because it’s worth having extras to add to your yogurt, to a meat dish, or to the next holiday dinner.
Are You Here to Connect? Let’s Talk About Time
I’ve been making my way through the book, The Way of Integrity by Martha Beck, which prompted me to dig into an incident in which my actions contradicted my intentions.
What was happening around me at that moment? What was I doing? What was I feeling? What was I thinking? What about right before the moment happened? And before that?
The deeper I dug, I realized my contradiction boiled down to two culturally ingrained beliefs:
- There isn’t enough time.
- I’m not doing enough.
These thoughts didn’t surprise me, but it was an aha moment to see how these thoughts pervaded the everyday. These two ingrained beliefs create a self-fulfilling prophesy. By focusing on too much at once, I create an inherent scarcity of time, and I rob myself of joy.
My antidote has been to clarify my priorities and my intentions, and to be realistic about time. This means giving myself the time, without layering on several other tasks, to create joyfully. This is a work in progress, but the results have been palpable.
I felt this shift most recently, as I swirled cranberry wine sauce through brown butter ice cream. Meanwhile, Dylan played a song from Amélie on the piano in the other room. I paused the podcast I was listening to and listened. It’s a beautiful song from one of my favorite movies, and it stops me in my tracks every time.
The song froze the moment. I felt grateful for the time to experiment, to make something that inspired me, for his talent. I felt grateful that I, like Amélie, had grappled with feelings of loneliness and isolation, but I too had found deeper connections through opening myself to others.
Had I been in my typical rush, I would have missed the moment. I would have missed the magic of churning liquid into ice cream, of Paris memories coming to the surface, and the joyful anticipation for sharing my creation with those I love.
Society pushes us to push ourselves to depletion, to burn out, to a constant pursuit of external validation, but the good things take time. They require clarity and intention. Pies, homemade brown butter ice cream, relationships, piano songs, and dreams take time. That’s the simple (not easy) truth.
This is what I’m exploring lately. What about you?
Are You Here for the Dogs?
If my crew became a rap album with a Victorian twist…
You Might Also Like: Twin Bing Cherry-Chocolate Popsicles with a Honey Buckwheat Crunch
Don’t feel like churning ice cream? Here’s a faster track to a frozen dessert. This popsicle, from my book, The Gluten-Free Grains Cookbook, is a frozen ode to my dad’s favorite sweet – Twin Bing (if you’re a Midwesterner, then you know). By alternating layers of unsweetened, pure dark cherries and homemade whipped cream, this version is a more wholesome version of my dad’s favorite candy.
Brown Butter Ice Cream with Cranberry & Candied Pecan Swirl
Brown Butter Ice Cream
- 4 oz (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup coconut sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 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.