Monday, July 09, 2007

Nothing Like a Cold Scotch

According to David Lebovitz--former pastry chef at Chez Panisse and author of my new favorite ice cream cookbook, The Perfect Scoop--there is some argument surrounding the origin of the word "butterscotch." Some say the name comes from "butter-scorched," which makes some sense, since making butterscotch does involve cooking butter. Others say the word derives from the phrase "butter scoring," as in "cutting"--not as in, "Dude, I scored some awesome Butterscotch Pecan Ice Cream!" Lebovitz offers his own theory: buttery butterscotch tastes better with a shot of scotch in it. And who am I to argue with that?

And so it is that Fork and I are currently noshing on the Butterscotch Pecan Ice Cream from Lebovitz's book, and it is a home run. The French-style ice cream includes a whopping six egg yolks, five tablespoons of butter, 3/4 cup brown sugar, and all the other usual suspects: heavy cream, whole milk, vanilla extract. Oh, and a tablespoon of Dewar's.

Tantamount to this delectable concoction is the addition of "mix-ins," as many ice cream recipes call the bits of nuts, candy, cake, cookies or fruit that sometimes punctuate ice cream. In this case, the mix-ins are chopped buttered pecans, which lend a terrific textural counterpoint to the creamy and, well, very buttery ice cream. Yes, this is indeed a decadent frozen dessert. So I'm setting my alarm for 6AM for an 8-mile run tomorrow. Who said you could eat this stuff and get off, uh, scotch-free?--S

Buttered Pecan Ice Cream

5 T butter
3/4 c packed dark brown sugar
1/2 t coarse salt
2 c heavy cream
3/4 c whole milk
6 large egg yolks
1/2 t vanilla extract
1 T scotch whisky
Buttered Pecans (recipe below)

1. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan, then stir in the brown sugar and salt until well moistened. Whisk in 1 cup of the cream and the milk.
2. Warm the brown sugar and cream mixture. Pour the remaining 1 cup cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top.
3. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm brown sugar mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.
4. Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. Add the vanilla and scotch, then stir until cool over an ice bath.
5. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. During the last few minutes of churning, add the Buttered Pecans.

Buttered Pecans

1 1/2 T butter
1 1/2 c pecan halves
1/4 t coarse salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
2. Melt the butter in a skillet. Remove from the heat and toss the pecans with the melted butter until well coated, then sprinkle with the salt.
3. Spread evenly on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring once during baking.
4. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.

Recipes courtesy of The Perfect Scoop

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