This no-cook, tangy buttermilk ice cream is ribboned with a sweet pecan praline sauce for the perfect contrast. (Jump to Recipe)
I’ve been meaning to share this ice cream with you for quite a while, so I have to apologize up front for keeping it from you this long. Now that you know about it, I also have to implore you to go make it immediately.
You see, this started, as most of my recipes actually do, because I had something to use up: in this case, buttermilk. You know how buttermilk only comes in giant quarts at the store, when a recipe usually only calls for a cup or, even worse, half a cup? Well, I decided one weekend that I wanted to make buttermilk waffles (more on that another time), so I dutifully bought the quart, used my cup, and was left with a whole lot of buttermilk just languishing in my fridge. I didn’t want to have to make another 4 recipes just to use up 1/2 a cup of buttermilk at a time, although this berry buttermilk cake I made a few weeks back might be worth it. I suppose you can also technically drink it. My mom always said my grandpa grew up in Indiana farmland drinking buttermilk. But, hmm…I just don’t think I can stomach that.
So then I got to thinking. Here was the thought process: (i) what I really like about buttermilk is the tang and interest that it adds to baked goods when contrasted against something sweet; (ii) but it’s really hot outside, I don’t want to turn on the oven; (iii) I wonder if buttermilk can be made into ice cream; (iv) I am one of the few people below the age of 80 whose favorite ice cream flavors are butter pecan, praline, and/or maple walnut, and I try to find as many opportunities as possible to consume them; (v) should I just go buy a pint of butter pecan and call it a day?; (vi) no, I won’t let laziness win — let’s combine buttermilk and pecans into ice cream and see what happens.
And something glorious happened. This:
Turns out, buttermilk churns up into WONDERFUL, rich ice cream when combined with heavy cream and some sugar. The best part was, I didn’t even need to bother with cooking a custard first. I found a recipe from David Lebovitz, as adapted by the lovely Joy the Baker, that required close to zero cooking, and figured I’d take it a step further and actually do no cooking at all. Just a whisk and a bowl and an ice cream maker. I figured the worst that could happen was the ice cream might be a little grainy because I didn’t melt the sugar into the cream first. Guess what? IT WORKED. No graininess, no iciness, just thick, tangy ice cream. Oh my stars.
[Side note: here is the ice cream maker I use. It’s fairly inexpensive, and it churns like a dream. Honestly, one of my favorite wedding registry gifts to date. The only problem is remembering to put the bowl in the freezer beforehand!]
Let’s go back to my butter pecan fixation. I knew I wasn’t going to hit the butter pecan flavor on the nose with this since I was making buttermilk ice cream as the base; butter pecan is anything but tangy. One day soon, I will conquer homemade butter pecan ice cream – but it is not this day. So I did the next best thing. I made a quick praline sauce on the stove, and ribboned it throughout the ice cream, letting the sharpness of the buttermilk play against the sweetness of a delicious combination of butter, brown sugar, and pecans. The result was nothing short of spectacular. Yup, I think that’ll do.
To recap: this is one of the easiest ice cream recipes I’ve ever made, and it’s to die for. My parents came to visit a few days after I made this, and miraculously, we still had some left in the freezer. I served it for dessert one night and my dad, who is normally not an ice cream person (not sure how we are related), was so enamored with it he had seconds. And then they came back the next night to polish it off.
Safe to say, friends, we have a winner on our hands. I recommend putting this one on your list for all the warm summer nights to come…and maybe the cooler ones too. In my opinion, ice cream really doesn’t have a season.
Buttermilk Praline Ice Cream
For the buttermilk ice cream:
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon bourbon or vodka (optional - to keep it from freezing solid. You won't taste it.)
For the praline sauce:
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
- 3/4 cup brown sugar, loosely packed
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
- In a large bowl, whisk together cold buttermilk, cream, sugar, honey, salt, and bourbon/vodka (if using). Whisk VERY thoroughly, for 1-2 minutes (this is a long time to whisk), to fully incorporate the sugar. You could also blend in a blender if you wish.
- Pour into the bowl of your ice cream maker (this is the one I use) and churn according to the manufacturer's directions. Mine took about 30 minutes to churn into thick ice cream!
- While the ice cream is churning, make the sauce. In a medium saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar, heavy cream, and salt over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil (a slow, soft boil, not a crazy boil), whisking often. Let boil for 3-5 minutes until slightly thickened, then remove from heat and stir in vanilla and nuts. Let cool (I put mine in the fridge to speed the cooling process while the ice cream finished churning).
- When the ice cream is churned, pour it into a freezer-safe container (you can use a lined loaf pan). Pour the cooled praline sauce over top. Using a butter knife or spatula, swirl the praline sauce into the ice cream using a back and forth pattern until you like the way it looks.
- Freeze ice cream for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight, before serving. If you didn't use the bourbon or vodka, you'll need to set the ice cream out on the counter for about 20 minutes to soften before serving. Otherwise it should be ready to scoop from the freezer. Enjoy!
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