My parents are coming to visit next week, and I am really excited because this means that I will be able to try my recipes out on a few extra appetites. Er, that is, I am first and foremost excited that I am going to be able to spend some quality time with my parents, in addition to the fact that I will have new people to cook for. Look, when your world pretty much revolves around food, you tend to feel like you're only as good as your latest recipe, then you start to quantify pretty much everything in terms of food.
I have mentioned numerous times in the past that my husband Eric's sweet tooth must have been knocked out in one of those rough and tumble Vermont childhood hockey games. As you can tell from this blog's lengthy "Dessert" category archives, sugary treats are some of my favorite things to make. This creates a bit of a dessert inventory overload in our kitchen, which either ends up being stored in the freezer for future company, or it is sent into the office with Eric. While my mom tends to watch her dessert intake, my dad is one of those people who has eaten the equivalent of a hot fudge sundae, right before bedtime, every night for the past 40 years without gaining an ounce. I know. Disgusting. So, I can definitely count on him to sample my latest creations while he is here. I'm sure that he will be more than happy to help.
His timing couldn't be more perfect. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that I think I just made my best ice cream ever. This stuff is can't-stop-licking-the-bowl-even-though-I-know-this-stuff-is-full-of-calories-and-fat good. Trust me--I know from experience (excuse me while I run downstairs to take another bite.) What makes this ice cream so darn delectable is the combination of the creamy brown sugar and scotch flavored base and the crunchy toffee bits, which cut the sweetness with a bit of salt. It's kind of like the unbeatable combination offered by a chocolate-covered pretzel: sweet, salty,creamy, and crunchy at the same time. This one is definitely a keeper. Look out Ben and Jerry. (P.S. Dad, there's a small chance that this might be gone by the time you get here.....) Here are my extra tips for this remarkable rich ice cream:
- After you have returned the egg and half and half mixture to the stove, if you find that it is not thickening enough, you can use my trick, which is probably a culinary school no-no, but it works really well. Besides, I didn't go to culinary school. In a small bowl, mix a little bit of the remaining half and half with a teaspoon or two of cornstarch until the cornstarch dissolves. Add this mixture to the saucepan, still over medium-low heat, and stir until thickened. You are looking for custard-type consistency, similar to a thick sauce.
- If you want to make this recipe more kid-friendly, feel free to replace the liqueur with a bit of butterscotch or butter rum extract.
- For extra texture and flavor, stir some lightly toasted chopped pecans in along with the toffee bits.
- A lighter version of this sinful dessert can be achieved by using all half and half or by substituting whole milk for some of the half and half and/or cream. Using too little fat will result in a less-creamy product.
- This ice cream will keep, tightly covered in the freezer, for up to one week. The recipe can be easily halved.
Butter-Toffee Crunch Ice Cream
Makes about 5 cups
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cups half and half, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
(1-2 teaspoons cornstarch, if necessary--see above tips)
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup butterscotch liqueur or scotch
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup toffee bits (such as Heath or Skor)
Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the sugar, 2 cups of the half and half and the salt. Bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
Whisk the eggs in a medium bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in the hot half and half mixture. Return the mixture to the same saucepan. Cook the mixture over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and your finger leaves a path on the back of a spoon when drawn across.
Stir in the remaining half and half, cream, butterscotch liqueur, and vanilla. Return the mixture over low heat until slightly thickened and smooth. Strain into a medium bowl, cover, and chill until cold, about 3 hours.
Process the mixture in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. Add the toffee bits about 5 minutes before the ice cream is done. Serve immediately or freeze for firmer ice cream.