What makes this the BEST Butterscotch Pecan Ice Cream you’ll ever have? Brown butter, ice cream base infused with pecan flavor throughout, and crunchy caramelized toasted butter pecans in every scoop of ice cream!
Rich, creamy and irresistible, this butterscotch butter pecan ice cream is another summer favorite of mine.
I’ve been on an ice cream binge lately, as evidenced by this vanilla, chocolate, mint chocolate chip and cereal milk ice creams. Here’s the last one for a while, and I think I may have saved the best for last. This Brown Butter Butterscotch Pecan Ice Cream is in a league of its own.
Crunchy caramelized toasted pecans in every scoop of butterscotch ice cream, with a hint of brown butter… we love it so much that I’ve made it 3 times in the past couple of weeks. You know, for recipe testing…
The first time, I just made classic brown butter butterscotch ice cream. It was fantastic, but K suggested adding some nuts to the ice cream. So after choosing between hazelnuts and pecans, I went with pecans.
The second time was even better, but I realized I could make it even more delicious if I,
- Coat some (or all) the toasted butter pecans with a little sugar for some crunch,
- Add some pecans to the custard mix while cooking it, in order to infuse MORE pecan flavor into the ice cream.
The result? The most irresistible homemade butterscotch pecan ice cream (or the world’s best butter pecan ice cream)!
BUT, before I tell you more about this butter pecan ice cream… I’ve got an ANNOUNCEMENT to make.
Let me introduce you to our new family member, our puppy Zuko! 🙂
Zuko’s a 9 week old beagle puppy, and we adopted this guy almost 2 weeks ago. He’s a (wrecking) ball of energy, with the puppiest of eyes that let him get away with far too much.
So, you can be sure I’ll be sharing more pictures of Zuko on The Flavor Bender as he grows up! 🙂
It’s been an exhausting (and exasperating) couple of weeks trying to house train him. And he loves to chew everything and anything in sight. We still wouldn’t have it any other way though! 🙂
If you’d like to see and read more about Zuko, please stay tuned. I’ll be sharing more pictures of him here on the blog, and on my Instagram account too. 🙂
Now let’s go back to drooling over this brown butter butterscotch pecan ice cream.
How to make brown butter
Brown butter is one of my favorite things in the world. It just makes everything better.
Check out some of my recipes here to see what I’m talking about.
Making brown butter is easy too. First cut up the unsalted butter into tablespoon-sized pieces so that it melts and heats evenly.
The stages of browning butter
Heating the butter
Then heat the butter in a non-stick saucepan to melt it. Once the butter melts, it’ll start to simmer, where the water in the butter starts evaporating. Once the water is evaporated, the leftover butter oil will foam as it continues to cook, and you will see milk solids settling on the bottom. Continue to cook (while stirring occasionally), and the milk solids will darken in color, and you will start to smell the most amazing toasty deliciousness.
When the milks solids on the bottom of the pan turn dark golden in color, the brown butter is ready (Stage 3). Immediately transfer the butter into a separate bowl, because the heat from the saucepan will keep cooking the butter.
Let the milk solids settle to the bottom again for a few minutes, then remove as much of the butter liquid as possible, while retaining the milk solids. It’s OK to have up to 2-3 tbsp of butter liquid remaining in the bowl, but try to remove as much as possible without losing the toasted milk solids.
Melted butter can be used for other things too…
Do NOT throw away the melted butter. I use it to butter toast, make omelettes, grill vegetables for dinner or lunch, and even add it to my oatmeal for breakfast. We will also be using it to make toasted butter pecans for this butterscotch pecan ice cream as mentioned below. So nothing goes to waste.
I prefer to use a non-stick saucepan for making brown butter, because the caramelized milk solids are less likely to stick to the bottom then. If you use a stainless steel saucepan, make sure to stir the butter regularly so that the milk solids don’t stick to the bottom.
These caramelized milk solids are packed with flavor, so you don’t want to lost any of it.
Making toasted butter pecans
If you do make brown butter, use about 2 tbsp of the leftover butter fat to toast pecans on a pan. Once the pecans are toasted, I remove a quarter of the pecans for the ice cream base, then add 2 tbsp of brown sugar to the remaining pecans in the pan. Toss to melt the sugar and coast the pecans in it. The result is crunchy caramelized toasted butter pecans!
To make the butterscotch pecan ice cream
Place the brown butter milk solids in a pan that’s nice and warm, but NOT hot. This helps emulsify the butter with the sugar and egg yolks smoothly.
Then add the brown sugar, molasses (or dark corn syrup), egg yolks, vanilla and salt, and whisk to create a thick, smooth paste. If you don’t have molasses or dark corn syrup, then simply increase the amount of brown sugar by 3 tbsp. The reason I add molasses is because I use less eggs in this recipe, and want the butterscotch pecan ice cream to be smooth when it freezes. The molasses act as a stabilizer to keep the custard smooth.
Next, add the milk and cream slowly and whisk well to make sure everything is well combined. Then finally, add the 1/4 amount of toasted pecans that you set aside earlier.
Then just like all the other homemade ice cream recipes on my blog, you heat the milk mixture until it’s steaming and registers at 165-170°F. But unlike my other ice cream recipes, it’s important to let the pecan flavor thoroughly infuse the milk, so I let the ice cream base sit in the fridge overnight.
Next morning, I scoop up the pecans from the milk. Do NOT strain it, because then you risk losing the delicious toasty brown butter milk solids.
Now it’s time to churn the ice cream in your ice cream maker. Add chopped, toasted pecans during the last few minutes of churning.
The let the butter pecan ice cream set in the freezer.
Browning butter and infusing pecan flavor are optional steps for this butter pecan ice cream, but they really do set this recipe apart and enhance the flavor of the ice cream.
You can serve this butterscotch pecan ice cream with extra chopped pecans, or whipped cream. It’s so rich and decadent though, we never bother with any toppings for this ice cream anyway!
Other recipes you may like,
EQUIPMENT NEEDED FOR THIS RECIPE
ICE CREAM MAKER – An inexpensive freezer bowl ice cream machine will be perfect for the average cook/baker. I have used & recommend this Cuisinart model. If you do constantly make ice cream in summer, then I would recommend investing in an ice cream maker with a built in compressor. These machines do not require to be pre-chilled and you can make many batches of ice cream over and over again. I currently own, and recommend this Cuisinart model.
Butterscotch Pecan Ice Cream
What You Need:
- Ice Cream machine
- Cooking thermometer
- 1 cup unsalted butter You will only be using 2 - 3 tbsp of brown butter
Caramelized Butter Pecan
- 14 oz pecans I used pecan halves, but you can use pecan pieces too
- 2 tbsp of the leftover butter or 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 3 tbsp dark brown sugar or raw sugar
Butterscotch pecan ice cream (Butter Pecan Ice cream)
- 2 - 3 tbsp brown butter with caramelized milk solids (from above)
- 5 egg yolks
- 3 tbsp molasses or dark corn syrup
- ¾ cup brown sugar or raw sugar
- ¾ tsp sea salt or kosher salt
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cups full cream milk
- 1 ½ cups whipping cream
- Cut the butter into smaller pieces and place them in a non-stick saucepan. Heat over medium / medium high heat to melt the butter. Keep cooking the butter until the milk solids turn dark golden in color (stage 3 in attached image). Remove the butter from the pan and transfer into a bowl, and allow the milk solids to settle to the bottom. Skim off the melted butter until you ONLY have caramelized butter solids, and about 2 tbsp of butter liquid. Do not throw away the butter liquid.
- Transfer the brown butter (milk solids + 2 tbsp of butter liquid) back into the saucepan and set aside until you’re ready to make the ice cream base.
Caramelized Toasted Butter Pecans
- Heat 2 tbsp of the skimmed off butter liquid in a non-stick pan. When the butter is heated, add all of the pecans and toss until nicely toasted. This can take between 5 - 15 minutes depending on your stove.
- Once pecans are toasted, remove about a ¼ of the pecans from the pan (about 4 oz / 115 g). Set this aside for the custard base.
- Sprinkle the 3 tbsp sugar over the remaining pecans in the pan. Keep moving the pecans around in the hot pan until the sugar dissolves and lightly coats the pecans.
- Immediately transfer the pecans onto a parchment paper or plate, to cool down.
- Chop the pecans into smaller pieces, and store in an air-tight container.
Brown butter butterscotch pecan ice cream
- Heat the caramelized butter solids in the saucepan until warm (not hot). Then remove from the heat.
- Add the ¾ cup of brown sugar, 3 tbsp molasses, ¾ tsp salt, 1 tbsp vanilla extract, and the 5 egg yolks into the saucepan. Whisk well until you have a thick, emulsified paste. There will be undissolved sugar in the paste, which is OK, but there should not be any yolk clumps.
- Add the 1 ½ cups milk and 1 ½ cups cream into the paste while whisking to make sure it mixes really well. Now add the 4 oz toasted pecans to the milk as well.
- Heat the custard over medium heat while whisking frequently. Heat until the mixture registers at 165 - 170°F, or starts steaming (but not boiling).
- Remove the custard from the heat and let it cool down to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
- Next day, scoop out the pecans in the custard using a slotted spoon.
- Whisk the remaining custard (to mix all the caramelized milk solids) and pour into your ice cream maker. Churn the ice cream according to manufacturer's instructions.
- During the last 2 - 5 minutes of churning, add the chopped caramelized butter pecans and let them mix into the ice cream.
- Transfer the ice cream into a container and freeze for at least 4 hours until frozen.
- Serve as is, or with extra chopped pecans. Enjoy!