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I made this ice cream for my husband for his birthday. He loves honey and vanilla. He claims he asked for a créme brûlée, but I don’t remember. So he got some brûléed hazelnuts instead. I’m not sure that “brûléed” is a word. I was going to call them candied hazelnuts, but they really are more burnt than candied. They have that definite burnt sugar taste of a créme brûlee. So really, it’s almost like créme brûlée ice cream. What ever you want to call it, it’s delicious!

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You can use a vanilla bean for the ice cream, but I prefer to use either vanilla puree or organic ground vanilla bean. Both will give you the characteristic black specks you get when using a vanilla bean, plus you don’t have to find something to do with the bean when you’re done with it. How much vanilla sugar can you make?

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Honey Vanilla Ice Cream with Brûléed Hazelnuts (Adapted from Bev Cooks)

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ¼ cup sugar, divided
  • 2 tsp pureed vanilla or one vanilla bean, split down the middle
  • ¼ cup local honey (see notes)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 3 egg yolks, room temperature
  • ½ cup hazelnuts, toasted and skins removed
  • 3 Tble sugar
  • 1 Tble water

Make sure your ice cream freezer bowl has been frozen for at least 18-24 hours.

In a medium saucepan, combine the cream, milk, 1 tablespoon of the sugar, pureed vanilla (if you’re using a vanilla bean, scrape out the seeds with a paring knife and drop seeds and pod into the mixture), honey and salt. Cook over medium-low heat until sugar and honey have melted, about 5-10 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks and remaining sugar together until it becomes light yellow in color and slightly fluffy. Very slowly add some of the hot milk mixture to the eggs a little at a time, whisking constantly. Do this until the egg mixture is warm. Slowly pour egg mixture into the hot milk in the saucepan, whisking the whole time. Continue cooking over medium-low heat until it has thickened and will coat the back of a spoon, about 10 more minutes. If you’re using a vanilla bean, remove and discard it now.

Strain the egg/milk mixture into another medium bowl in an ice bath. Continue stirring until mixture has cooled. Pour 1-2 cups of the mixture into a smaller bowl. Cover both bowls with plastic wrap and place both bowls in the freezer for at least 3 hours (see notes).

While custard is freezing, make the brûléed hazelnuts. Line a small tray with non-stick aluminum foil or parchement paper and set aside. Pour 3 tablespoons of sugar along with 1 tablespoon of water into a small saucepan. Cook over high heat until mixture turns a light brown color, stirring and swirling as needed. Add hazelnuts to sugar mixture and stir to combine, being very careful not to burn yourself!! When all hazelnuts have been coated with sugar mixture, pour out onto the non-stick aluminum foil lined tray and allow to cool. When sugar/nut mixture has hardened, break apart with a knife and set aside until ice cream is frozen.

Bring both bowls out of the freezer and scrape the contents of the smaller bowl (more frozen) into the larger one, stirring to combine. Pour contents into your ice cream maker and proceed according to your manufacturer’s instructions. It will take about 20-25 minutes to freeze, depending on your model. At this point is should be like soft serve. Add hazelnuts and pieces of burnt sugar to the ice cream and let the machine mix for another minute or so until it is well combined. Transfer to a freezer-proof container and place in the freezer for at least another 2 hours to harden.

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Notes:

  • I used a pollen-rich variety of local honey that is almost solid and much sweeter than your average store-bought honey. If you are using regular honey, you can adjust the amount to 1/3 cup.
  • I had never done the 2 bowls in the freezer method before, but let me tell you, it made all the difference in the texture of the ice cream. I have no idea why. But I will keep doing this from now on.
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