I know you don't expect to start seeing coverage of ice cream until summer arrives, but the truth is I make it year 'round. I also drink margaritas and white wine every month of the year, and I have been known to rock a pair of white pants before Memorial Day, so if you're like me and you're up for breaking the traditional editorial calendar rules, read on about the salted almond ice cream I made last weekend. I promise you'll be glad you did.
I'm lucky to have one of those commercial-style ice cream machines with a built-in compressor, so I can make batch after batch of ice cream with very little preparation. This makes for a weekly ice cream habit, using whatever I have around the kitchen.
Last weekend I had eggs from a farm (you read about that here), lots of wonderful grass-fed whole milk, but no cream, and a huge jar of almonds. The chocolate had bloom and of course there is no good fresh fruit for another month or so. It seemed logical to highlight the almonds, and to make it simple (no crazy Ben and Jerry's copycat flavors for me!) and toss in some salt because I almost always salt my desserts.
The Salted Almond Ice Cream was a big hit. Earlier this week when I tested it again, I used my usual milk and cream ratio (easy to remember, 2:1) and also tried substituting honey for the sugar. Also delicious, but with an earthier balance.
If you want to make this recipe with all milk, as I did the first time around, use 3 cups whole milk. If you want to use honey instead, use a little less than the sugar called for below. I put 1/4 cup into the milk while it was heating, then used about a tablespoon to caramelize the almonds.
Salted Almond Ice Cream
makes about a quart
2 cups whole milk 1 cup heavy cream 5 egg yolks 1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided 1 teaspoon pure almond extract 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 2/3 cup chopped almonds
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the milk and cream until it bubbles appear around the edge. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks with 1/3 cup sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt until thick and pale yellow. Slowly pour about half of the hot milk into the egg mixture while whisking. Pour the egg and milk mixture back into the pan with the remaining milk, and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture coats the back of a spoon. Pour the custard into a metal bowl, stir in the almond and vanilla extracts, and set aside to cool. (To speed up cooling, prepare an ice bath in a slightly larger bowl and place the custard bowl in the ice. Stir the custard until cool.)
Meanwhile, in a small skillet over medium heat, toast the almonds until they just begin to show color. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring constantly, until nuts caramelize to a dark brown color, about 5 minutes. Spread them out on a plate to cool. When cool, break the nuts apart.
Meanwhile, begin to process the custard in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions (or follow our guide to making ice cream without an ice cream maker). When the mixture is the consistency of frozen yogurt, sprinkle in the nuts and process until it hardens further.