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Honeyed Pear and Walnut Ice Cream is juicy and sophisticated. Oh, and it’s also delicious. A great ice cream option for the fall and a fun way to pair up pears and walnuts that isn’t a salad!
Don’t miss the round up of all my ice cream recipes.
I have never been a huge fan of vegetables, and as a kid, I don’t think I ever ate anything other than starchy vegetables: corn, lima beans, peas, potatoes. I’m pretty sure it was a textural thing, because something about “wet crunch” seemed so unappealing. I couldn’t imagine having wet crunchy stuff in my mouth. Shudder. Maybe it’s because all the salads that we used to eat were built on iceberg lettuce. I rather love the stuff now, but as a kid, it epitomized Wet Crunch. Dousing it with a cup of Catalina dressing turned it bright orange, sweet and tangy, but still there was that wet crunch lying in wait beneath its neon blanket.
Thank goodness for the mixed green salad. I don’t know who invented that thing, but I’d like to thank him or her very, very much. I had no idea that not all leafy greens were crunchy and wet. I found that I rather preferred them not to crunch at all.
When I met the mixed green salad topped with pear slices, goat cheese and walnuts, I felt like I’d finally found what I was searching for. Creamy cheese, juicy pears and the mellow crunch of toasted walnuts kissed with a sweet honey dressing. Oh look, someone has topped my salad with dessert! Thank you so much!
Honeyed Pear and Walnut Ice Cream
Now, for today’s Ice Cream Tuesday, I have turned that salad into an actual dessert. I promise no lettuce or greens of any kind were used in the making of this ice cream. The rest is all there, though. Goat cheese, honey and vanilla combine to make a rich, cheesecake-like base. Intense vanilla pear butter swirls throughout, providing a sweet tang that balances the creamy base nicely. The crunch is provided courtesy of walnuts roasted with honey and salt until lightly caramelized and crunchy.
Honeyed Pear and Walnut Ice Cream is what you want, I’m telling you. It’s definitely swanky enough to end a dinner party, but it’s also approachable enough to eat while binge-watching Netflix. You won’t need a ton, though. The combination of flavors and textures is satisfying, and I–who normally considers any size container of ice cream one serving–am content with just a scoop or two.
For the Ice Cream Base
- 2 cups (16 oz) half and half
- 7 oz (slightly generous 1/2 cup) honey--a light, clean honey such as orange blossom
- 7 oz (1 cup) granulated sugar
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 oz mild chevre at room temperature, (goat cheese) *See Note
- 4 oz cream cheese at room temperature *See Note
- 2 more cups half and half
- 2 teaspoons vanilla paste, (extract is just fine)
For the Pear Butter
- 1 1/2 pounds of cored and diced pears, (I used 1 1/2 green Anjou and one Bosc)
- 2-3 oz honey, (to taste)
- heavy pinch kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla paste or 1/2 vanilla bean, , split and scraped (I wouldn't use extract here as it will be cooked a really long time)
- 1-2 Tablespoons lemon juice, (for balance, so this is really to taste)
- 1 Tablespoon brandy plus 2 teaspoons, (any sort will do)
For the Walnuts
- 1 cup walnuts, (halves or pieces)
- 2 oz honey, (ideally the same kind you use in the base and the pear butter)
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste
- 1 little pat of butter, (about 1 teaspoon)
- Combine the first amount of half and half, the honey, sugar, yolks, cornstarch and salt in a heavy-bottomed sauce pan.
- Put the cheeses in a bowl large enough to hold them as well as the custard.
- Put the second amount of half and half and the vanilla in another bowl large enough to hold everything.
- Bring the dairy mixture to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly.
- Let boil for about ten seconds and then strain the mixture into the bowl with the cheese.
- Let this sit for three or four minutes to soften up the cheese.
- Whisk the base and cheese together until smooth.
- Strain into the remaining dairy and vanilla and then stir over an ice bath until cold (no warmer than 42F if you don't want to wait until the next day to churn)
- Chill in the refrigerator until the mixture is at least 40F before putting in your ice cream maker and churning according to the manufacturer's instructions.
For the Pear Butter
- Combine the pears, honey, salt, vanilla paste or scraped bean, lemon juice and 1 Tablespoon of the brandy in a small, heavy bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. (Use the lesser amount of honey and lemon juice and cook for at least an hour before tasting and adjusting the sweetness and/or acidity as necessary)
- Turn the heat down and simmer until the pears are very soft. Mash the pears with a potato masher or with a fork.
- Turn the heat to low and let burble slowly on the stove, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is very thick, the juices are very syrupy and the pear butter on the bottom of the pan just starts to caramelize.
- Transfer to your blender and blend until completely smooth. This makes about 1 1/2 cups of pear butter. I used all of mine in the ice cream. You don't have to if you don't want to. Just so you know.
- Let cool and stir in the last 2 teaspoons of brandy. Chill until ready to use.
For the Walnuts
- Combine all the ingredients on a Silpat-lined sheet pan and place on the middle rack of the oven for 2 minutes to melt the butter and loosen up the honey.
- Remove from the oven and stir everything together really well.
- Return to the oven for 5 minutes. Remove and stir one more time.
- Put the nuts back into the oven for another 5-6 minutes. You'll know they're ready when the honey mixture looks kind of foamy and is bubbling up between the nuts.
- Remove and spread out into a single layer on the Silpat.
- Let cool to room temperature. Store in an airtight container. When ready to use, chop into ice cream mix in-sized pieces (whatever that means to you) and put in the freezer while the ice cream in churning.
Putting It All Together
- Once the ice cream has reached soft-serve consistency, stir in the nuts (from the freezer) until evenly distributed.
- Spread 1/4 of the pear butter in the bottom of your ice cream container (I've used all mine at this point so I just layered mine in a big old bowl).
- Top with 1/3 of the ice cream, plopping it as evenly as you can over the pear butter.
- Continue layering the pear butter and ice cream until it's all gone.
- Take a knife and swirl it around in the ice cream, lifting it up and down like a carousel horse and making sure it reaches all the way to the bottom of the container.
- Press plastic wrap directly on the surface of the ice cream and then lid it up. If you don't have a lid, use another couple of layers of plastic wrap over the top of the container.
- Put in the freezer for at least 4 hours and preferably overnight to ripen.
*Depending on how mild the goat cheese is (or how much you like it), feel free to use any combination of goat cheese and cream cheese. If you don't like goat cheese at all, use a full 8 oz of cream cheese in your base. I made mine as written, but I might make it with 6 oz of goat cheese and only 2 oz of cream cheese next time. It's entirely up to you.
And there you have it: Honeyed Pear and Walnut Ice Cream for Ice Cream Tuesday. Because anyone can make a Sundae.
I really hope you enjoy this as much as I do. Thank you so much for taking the time to read today. I hope you have a lovely day.