Almond Ice Cream
July 5, 2018; Savannah, GA: When my “son” Scot Hinson said that he was going to bring a peach pie to our 4th of July festivities, I was reminded of how closely related peaches are to almonds, and how the interior of the peach pit, though slightly poisonous, has an intensely almond flavor. Following historical recipes, I use those little nutty nuggets in my peach ice cream. Mikel, my husband, has taken to using almond milk on his morning cereal and in his post workout shakes. I haven’t drunk cow’s milk in decades — dairy products have to be either cooked or fermented for me to enjoy them — but he convinced me to taste the almond milk. It wasn’t bad and, in fact, it does taste like almonds. I wondered if I could use the almond milk the way I use cow’s milk in recipes. Quick online searches revealed many sites that claimed that you could substitute equal amounts of almond milk for cow’s milk. Delving further into custard recipes, it seemed that the only difference was that instead of merely scalding the milk before adding to egg yolks, that you actually let the almond milk come to a boil. I knew that almond ice cream would complement the pie, so I made ice cream with what I had on hand: eggs, sugar, almond milk, almond extract, cream, and almonds. You can make this ice cream without adding the cream and it will be free of bovine dairy, but the little bit of cream makes for a smoother, richer ice cream. I was going to add salted, buttery, slivered almonds to the ice cream à la Butter Pecan Ice Cream (which is made by simply folding in buttery roasted pecans into your favorite vanilla ice cream — the pecan recipe appeared on the blog in December 2007), but neither my pantry nor my local grocer, three blocks away, had the nuts. I did have some salted, roasted almonds on hand, so I tossed them in melted butter and added them with the cream just before churning. You can omit them both. Here’s the recipe. It was a smash hit and everyone agreed that it was the perfect accompaniment to Scot’s delicious pie.
Almond Ice Cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup salted, roasted almonds, or 1/2 cup slivered almonds roasted with 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of butter
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1-1/2 cups unsweetened, unflavored almond milk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup heavy cream
Melt the butter in a skillet over very low heat, add the almonds and toss well, and set aside to cool. You can add salt to taste if desired. I added about 1/4 teaspoon.
In a heavy saucepan, beat the egg yolks and 1/2 of the sugar (1/4 cup) until light. (I use a hand mixer). Mix the almond milk, remaining 1/4 cup sugar, a pinch of salt, and the almond extract in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Slowly add the milk mixture to the egg yolks, stirring constantly. Heat over medium low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until a custard forms, lightly coating the back of the spoon. Pour the custard through a sieve and chill thoroughly. I place the bowl of custard in the refrigerator in a bowl of ice.
When the custard is completely cooled, fold in the nuts and cream and freeze according to the instructions on your ice cream freezer. Makes six servings to accompany pie or cake.