Toasted coconut and vanilla bean ice cream with different nuts.
The ice cream base comes from the best ice cream book in the world, The Perfect Scoop, by the incomparable David Lebovitz. If you are new to homemade ice cream, this is the only book you need. Not only is his technique flawless, but his flavours will inspire you. His toasted coconut ice cream has toasted, unsweetened coconut and real vanilla bean steeped in milk, sugar and cream for an hour or so, then strained out, and the rich, heavily scented liquid becomes the starting point for a beautifully textured custard ice cream.
While the sweet cream and coconut were steeping, I oven-roasted the following kinds of nuts in the following ways:
1 cup of pecan halves, broken up, and spiced with salt and ground cayenne pepper, and slicked with maple syrup.
1 cup of sliced almonds with some honey that I let out with a bit of water to make more of a glaze.
1 cup of walnut halves, broken up, salted, and coated in more maple syrup.
1 cup of coarsely grated coconut (the pieces are about as wide as tagliatelle, or ribbons), coated in egg white and white sugar, which kind of candies them. Coconut is not actually a botanical nut, but the American FDA categorizes it as a tree nut, for some reason.
Each of these nuts are roasted separately at 350F until they are crisp and very sticky- you want them to dry out as they cook so they retain their sweet coating and stay crunchy in the ice cream. If the honey is wet, for example, it will dissipate into the ice cream, instead of staying on the sliced almonds. Once they are cool and dry, break up the clumps, and try not to eat them all before they make it into the ice cream.
When the ice cream is churned, you can swirl in the nuts, either by hand as you remove the ice cream from the machine, or by tossing them into the machine with the motor still running. Remove this bit of heaven and freeze in an airtight container. Treating the nuts separately was a gigantic pain, and probably unnecessary (you could just as easily douse them all with maple syrup and throw them in the oven together), but this ice cream really was the best of the summer.