Bourbon, Maple, and Candied Pecan Ice Cream

Summer is STILL not over

It may be September, but I’m still making and eating ice cream. My go-to is a coffee flavor, but this Maple-Bourbon-Pecan recipe looked intriguing and so I gave it a try.

The original is from the Bojon Gourmet by Alanna Taylor-Tobin. She started her site in 2009 during a stint of unemployment and borrowed the term "bojon" (no job, backwards) from a friend. Read more about the Tao of bojon here. Alanna is an award-winning chef, with her book, Alternative Baker, being an IACP award winner. It contains 100+ recipes featuring corn, oat, chestnut, almond, buckwheat, sorghum, and other gluten-free flours, making her a favorite of Bob’s Red Mills Natural Foods.

I found that making the Candied Salty Pecans first was the easiest way to approach this. They can be made a day or two ahead and stored in an airtight container, refrigerated. When it comes time to churn your ice cream, just pop them into the freezer. This will help keep them from becoming soggy when added to your base.

The texture on this ice cream is going to be a little soft thanks to the bourbon and maple syrup. Turns out to be more like a gelato, which I like. A word on syrup. Use the best quality Grade A Dark Robust (formerly Grade B) you can find. Confused about maple syrup categories? Epicurious has you covered. With few ingredients in an ice cream, there really is nowhere to hide. Quality matters.

Generally I’m a wine girl, not a Spirits person. This is the exception that proves the rule. The bourbon flavor is awesome, courtesy of Maker’s Mark.



For the Ice Cream Base

2/3 cup Grade B maple syrup

1/3 cup dark brown sugar

1 1//2 cup heavy cream

1 cup whole milk

1/4 tsp fine sea salt

5 egg yolks

1/4 cup good quality bourbon

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp maple extract

For the Candied Salty Pecans

1 cup pecans, roughly chopped

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp light corn syrup

1 tsp unsalted butter

1 tsp Maldon Salt (see Notes)


For the pecans

In a medium saucepan, add enough water to barely cover the bottom.

Add sugar to the center, and moisten evenly by swirling the water gently.

Over medium heat, add the corn syrup and cover with a lid.

Bring to a boil then cook until the sugar is dissolved.

Remove lid. Without stirring, boil till an amber colored caramel.

Remove from the heat. Swirl in the butter and salt.

Add the nuts. Stir with a silicon spatula to completely coat them.

Pour onto a parchment paper lined sheet pan.

Separate the pieces so they don’t stick together.

Let cool for a half hour or so.

Break into large chunks, store in an airtight container in the fridge.

For the Base Custard

In a medium saucepan, combine the maple syrup, brown sugar, milk, and sea salt.

Heat on medium until small bubbles appear on the edges.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks.

Pour a little of the milk mix over the eggs to temper them while stirring constantly.

Add a cup of the milk mix and whisk to combine. Then add everything back to the saucepan.

Stir constantly over medium low heat till it reaches 170º

In a medium mixing bowl, place the heavy cream with a fine mesh strainer over the top. Pour the milk mixture through the strainer.

Stir until combined. You now have a custard.

Cover with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for at least six hours, best overnight.

For the ice cream

When you’re ready to churn, place the nuts in the freezer.

Add the bourbon, vanilla, and maple extract to the custard.

Place in the freezer for an hour.

Churn to your ice cream makers instructions.

When the mix is the consistency of a thick frappe (velvet, milkshake, cabinet, whichever floats your boat), add the nuts. Read a little about the history of those terms in New England Magazine. Continue to churn for another minute or two to combine the nuts into the mix.

Place in airtight containers and freeze at least 4 hours.

The texture will be softer than a traditional ice cream, so plan your servings accordingly.


Maldon Salt is a hand-harvested sea salt that has a unique flavor, and whose texture is flaky. In addition to using a high-quality ingredient, I use Maldon here because its texture still maintains a little integrity, and has the effect of melting on your tongue. This adds to the flavor of the pecan and the ice cream. Kosher salt would distribute too easily in the ice cream, bumping its flavor into the salty direction too much.

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