Vanilla Butter Walnut Ice Cream

I keep thinking /wishing/hoping for autumn to be here already. I long for the crisp air and the smell of bonfires, for the oranges and yellows and comfy sweaters. Typically, this desire doesn’t come around until the beginning of September for me, but this year, I think I was wishing for fall all the way back in the beginning of August.


I’ve been cheating on September I think, wearing clothes that are much too warm and cozy for the eighty-degree temps we’ve been having. I’ve literally been caught wearing corduroys and cardigans and drinking lots of hot tea…when it’s ninety degrees out.

When my mom mentioned that the high on Saturday was only going to be seventy, I did a little happy dance (which, she thought was an “I have to pee very badly dance”). But, I’m serious about this fall weather thing.

Last week in an attempt to do something that fit the weather so as not to go too crazy with this lingering heat, I made ice cream. Actually, I just had tons of leftover egg yolks that I didn’t want to waste, and a custard-y ice cream was the first thing I thought of. And because I’m so into fall already, it couldn’t be some fresh fruity summery flavor. It needed to be much richer, something that reminded me of fall.

Butter Pecan is probably my all time favorite ice cream. It’s rich and creamy, sweet and salty, and nutty and buttery of course. That’s an autumn-y flavor, right? Maybe I’m just making things up, I really didn’t get much sleep this week, and my brain feels a bit mushy. Let’s pretend it is.

Walnuts! I love walnuts too, more so than pecans. I decided to change up this classic flavor a bit, and walnuts seemed a perfect way to do it. They’re not quite as sweet as pecans, which works well because everything else in this ice cream is super sweet. Toasting the walnuts enhances the nutty flavor and adds a crunchier texture to the ice cream. And while we’re changing up the classic flavor a bit, let’s go ahead and add some vanilla bean too. Vanilla Butter Walnut Ice Cream. Sounds lovely, I think.

And tastes lovely too.

Vanilla Butter Walnut Ice Cream

Adapted from Whisk Kid

2 cups walnuts, chopped coarsely

2 Tablespoons butter

¼ teaspoon salt


1 ½ cups packed light brown sugar

1 vanilla bean

2 cups milk

2 cups heavy cream

6 large egg yolks

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

2 Tablespoons butter


Combine heavy cream and milk in a medium saucepan. Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla bean and whisk into the cream and milk. Let this sit and meddle together for awhile – about fifteen minutes or so.

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a pan. When melted, add walnuts and cook, stirring frequently, until the nuts are nice and toasty. It should take 10-15 minutes, but watch closely so as not to burn them. Set aside to cool.

In a small mixing bowl, combine ½ cup of the brown sugar with the egg yolks. Whisk well and set aside.

Add the other 1 cup of the brown sugar to the vanilla cream mixture. Cook this over medium heat until just about to boil. Right before it boils, ladle approximately a half-cup of the hot cream mixture into the egg and sugar mixture, whisking immediately. (This tempers the eggs so they don’t get cooked when adding them to all of the cream mixture.) Once combined, pour it all back into the saucepan with the cream mixture and continue to cook until slightly thickened. Stir frequently and make sure not to bring it to a boil. You’ll be able to tell it’s done when it clings to the back of a spoon without flowing off. If using a thermometer, it’ll be about 170-175 degrees F. Remove from heat.

Transfer the custard into a bowl stir in remaining 2 Tablespoons butter and vanilla extract. Allow to cool slightly. After a few minutes, use plastic wrap to cover the surface, placing it directly onto the top of the custard. This prevents the custard from forming a film on the top.  Allow to chill completely in the refrigerator.

Once chilled, freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to a freezer safe container and fold in the buttered pecans. Freeze until firm.

Love, b