Sunday, March 6, 2011

Pour some (maple) sugar on me: Ben & Jerry's maple walnut ice cream

In Maine, where I grew up, March is the season for maple sugaring--a process I first witnessed during a fourth-grade field trip to a working historic homestead. We got a chance to check the taps and look in on the sugaring shack (after we did a little 1800s-era housework, like sweeping while wearing ruffled bonnets and emptying a few too-realistic-for-comfort chamberpots).

I don't currently have access to maple taps (or, thankfully, chamberpots) but I do keep plenty of syrup on hand. We are not an Aunt Jemima kind of household.

And I firmly believe that syrup is for more than just pancakes. That's why I was happy to test out a maple walnut ice cream recipe from two fellow New Englanders I call Ben and Jerry. Which is what everyone else calls them, too.

They recommend using Grade C syrup for this, which has a sharper maple flavor and is for cooking and baking, not table use. I used Grade A and lived to tell the story. I have a feeling Grade C is a little tougher to find than the lighter Grade A. If you've found it and used it, I'd love to hear what you think.

Most of Ben and Jerry's ice cream recipes start with a sweet cream base (and they suggest three ways to make it). I used a base made with raw eggs. If that weirds you out, you can also make a base by blending 2 cups of light cream with 1 cup of cold sweetened condensed milk.

Maple Walnut Ice Cream
Source: Ben & Jerry's Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book

  •  2 eggs
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 2 c. heavy cream
  • 1 c. milk
  • 1/4 c. maple syrup
  • 1/2. chopped walnuts

Whisk the eggs until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Gradually whisk in the sugar until completely blended, then mix in the cream and milk. Gradually add the maple syrup until blended.

Transfer the mixture to your ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions.

Just before the ice cream finishes freezing, add walnuts. Transfer to a plastic container and put in the freezer until firm.

The recipe makes a little more than a quart (or about 50 spoonfuls straight from the freezer, which is my preferred method of serving and consuming).

The food: Maple walnut ice cream
The verdict: Worth doing 1800s-era housework for


Katie said...

Sounds yummy! Plus, I always love reading your witty commentary!

Karli said...

I use syrup in lots of other applications too! Happy to see this. I've actually never attempted to make ice cream on my own!

Anonymous said...

I love this recipe too! Just made it for the second time, and this time I made it side by side a batch of the America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook's Maple-Nut Ice Cream. [Truth be told, their recipes usually win any taste tests for other baked goods, but I tend to think that Ben & Jerry's out-competes them on ice cream every time]. This one won hands down! Well, there were only two voters, my husband and I, but we both much preferred it. My guess is that the cooking process of ATK, which makes it safe to eat the eggs, also hurts the maple flavor somehow, because that one had three times the maple syrup but didn't taste as good as Ben & Jerry's recipe! I just use pasteurized eggs (sometimes eggbeaters) and the Ben & Jerry's recipes are so easy.

Here's something I did this time that I highly recommend - pop on over to page 102 in the cookbook and make the Maple Walnut Brownies. Chop up a cup of them and stir them into the Maple Walnut ice cream. Great!!!!!!!!!!!!