The flavor of the pure maple syrup is clearly the star of this creamy maple walnut ice cream. I used grade B maple syrup in the recipe because it has a somewhat stronger flavor. The grading system has been evolving -- if you don't see Grade B, look for the darkest: Grade A Dark Color and Robust Taste or Grade A Amber Color and Rich Taste.
Along with the chopped walnuts, maple flakes were added to the pictured ice cream,* which gave the ice cream a bit of extra crunch and even more maple flavor. This is a fantastic ice cream to serve with an apple crisp, cobbler, or pie, or enjoy it with a drizzling of maple syrup. Maple flakes or walnuts would make a great topping as well.
- 1 cup dark maple syrup (preferably Grade B or equivalent)
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1 cup light cream or evaporated milk
- dash salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
- Optional: 1/3 cup maple flakes
- Optional 1/4 cup maple flakes (or chopped walnuts, for garnish)
- Put the maple syrup in a heavy medium saucepan and place it over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, and continue boiling for about 3 to 4 minutes, or until it has reduced to approximately 3/4 cup. Stir in the heavy cream and light cream or evaporated milk along with a dash of salt. Bring the mixture to a boil and remove it from the heat.
- Whisk the eggs in a medium bowl until well blended. While whisking briskly, add about one-third to half of the hot milk and syrup mixture in a slow, steady stream. Add the egg mixture back into the saucepan mixture and whisk to blend.
- Place the saucepan over low heat and continue cooking, stirring or whisking constantly, until the mixture is quite hot. Do not let the mixture boil. If you have an instant-read thermometer, look for a temperature of about 180 F. The mixture will be slightly thickened and hot. The minimum safe temperature for egg dishes is 160° F.
- Place a fine mesh sieve over a bowl. Pour the mixture through the sieve into the bowl. Cover the bowl and refrigerate the mixture for 3 to 4 hours, or until it is thoroughly chilled.
- Freeze the custard in an ice cream machine (follow the manufacturer's directions for your specific brand) until frozen but still soft. With motor running, add the chopped walnuts. Continue churning until the ice cream is frozen. Transfer the ice cream to a container. Cover the container tightly and freeze until solid.
*Whole Foods sells small jars of maple flakes, but Amazon has organic maple flakes (much less expensive) in 1-pound bags. (Buy Maple Flakes From Amazon) They're great on cereal, and I've used them in these maple shortbread cookies.
Tips and Variations
- Maple Walnut Ice Cream With Toasted Walnuts - To toast the chopped walnuts, spread them out in a dry pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring and turning constantly until the nuts are lightly browned and aromatic. Remove immediately to a plate to cool.
- Maple Pecan Ice Cream - Replace the walnuts with chopped pecans.
- For best results, use a sharp chef's knife to chop the walnuts.