Caramelized Pear Pecan Ice Cream

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This ice cream recipe was inspired by a limited edition Haagen Dazs flavor released back in 2007. It was made when the flavor suggestion came from a Gourmet magazine (RIP) contest, and I believe it was around for a couple of years. I always really liked it, and decided to try making my own at home. It is the pearfect fall treat!

Caramelized pear toasted pecan ice cream ready to be scooped, recipe.
Woman wearing purple gingham linen dress scoops caramelized pear pecan ice cream

I am on the fence about peeling the pears here. I don’t mind the peels, and it helps the pear pieces not completely disintegrate, but I can see how the texture would not be ideal for everybody as they are slightly papery. If you think that will bother you, go ahead and peel them.

I did a few trial batches of this recipe. For the first batch I added cinnamon and nutmeg. It was delicious, but it gave it heavy crisp vibes, which isn’t what I was aiming for. I have such fond memories of the original ice cream. However, if you want to add some autumn spices here, incorporate it into the pear.

Haagen dazs inspired pear pecan ice cream

Caramelized Pear Pecan Ice Cream (makes a little more than a quart)

  • 2 T Unsalted butter
  • 3 cups diced pears (From about 4 ripe pears, peeled if desired.)
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar plus 1/4 cup, divided
  • 3/4 tsp salt, divided
  • 1.5 cups heavy cream
  • 1.5 cups whole milk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup toasted pecans, chopped
  1. Heat large skillet over medium heat. Add butter and melt. Add half of the pears and 2/3 cup sugar. The pears should begin to release their juices. Let simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently with a spatula. When the pears are starting to get golden brown and most of the juice has evaporated, add the remaining pears and cook for a couple of more minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Combine cream and milk in a medium sized sauce pan and heat over medium heat just until tiny bubbles start to form. You don’t want to scald or boil it. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks with 1/4 cup sugar in a large mixing bowl until the yolks have lightened in color and the sugar seems well incorporated.
  3. Remove the heated milk and cream from the heat. While whisking the eggs, slowly pour the milk and cream into the eggs. (See tips below for tempering cream into egg yolks.)
  4. Return the custard to the sauce pan. Over low heat, heat until 160-170, stirring constantly. Alternatively, heat a pan of water, and use as a double boiler to heat the custard in the bowl over the steam. This will reduce the chances of curdling. Strain if desired. Add the vanilla extract and half of the cooked pears. Reserve the other half of the pears for later.
  5. Allow the custard to cool a bit at room temperature. Then cover with either plastic wrap or parchment paper. This helps to prevent a film from developing. Cool in the refrigerator until fully cooled. (I usually cool mine overnight.)
  6. When the ice cream base is fully cooled, churn the ice cream according to your ice cream maker’s directions until still slightly soft, but mostly set. Then add in the remaining pear mixture, and half the pecans, and churn for another minute or so. Mine takes about 22-25 minutes total. It will firm up more in the freezer, so it does not have to be super solid. If you want to eat it immediately, you can churn it a bit longer.
  7. When the ice cream is done, put it in the container you would like to store it in, layering the ice cream with the remaining pecans. This will help to make sure there are pecans throughout the ice cream. Cover and freeze for at least an hour. Remove from freezer about five minutes before you are ready to serve to make it easier to scoop.

Tips for tempering a custard:

If you are new to making custards, here are some tips to make things easier until you get more comfortable!

  1. Use a ladle to pour a little of the heated cream into the egg yolks to start with, until you are more comfortable pouring directly from the pan to the yolks. Begin with roughly a tablespoon at a time, and then as the egg yolks get warmer with each addition, you can add larger and larger amounts of the cream, until pouring it all in.
  2. You can also try pouring the cream into a large glass liquid measuring cup and using that to pour into the yolks.
  3. Place a kitchen towel beneath your stainless steel bowl. It will help hold it in place while you whisk and pour. You only have two hands!

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