Autumn Maple Pecan Kiss Gelato – Vermonster – Hand and Homemade

Ben & Jerry's - The Vermonster

Ben & Jerry’s – The Vermonster

So busy I was, I couldn’t post, part of it because we had a pest infestation, which took weeks to clear. Not pleasant, but I will dwell on this later – it’s solved now for good it seems. However, I also loaned my ‘Monster‘ to a friend who was instantly convinced she needed ‘something’ like this, even though for her the cooking function is a bit overdone.  My Monster has been back for a little while now, and I used it to make ice cream. Pistachio, Bacio and a copy cat version of the Vermonster, which is rarely found – I only know of one single place in Germany! It’s a Ben & Jerry’s Maple Sirup Ice Cream – one of my favourites! So I will share the simple, but delicious, recipe here for the Maple Gelato! Especially, since our northern hemisphere human fellow beings are running into summer now! Stay tuned for the other ice cream recipes in the next weeks! I will have to take some pictures from this ice cream, but for now the ‘plain’ recipe!


Recipe: Monster from Vermont – Autumn Maple Pecan Swirl

IMG_9919_smallMaple ice cream is almost like caramel ice cream – but different and e nicer even. Definitely totally yummy! As previously described in ice cream recipes, it takes some waiting time, but not overwhelmingly much in terms of actual activity. If you use an ice-cream maker, the active time will be even shorter, but you would use the machine according to the instructions of the supplier. In my case I need 24 h of pre-freezing of the cooling bowl. I have started off not using an ice cream maker so see whether the flavor is right and adjust my work-flow and it works pretty well without. Keep in mind that the recipe actually looks longer than the ‘doing it’ part is! Be also aware that we are making homemade caramel here. This means that you will heat sugar to VERY hot! If you are unsure how to deal with hot sugar, read up about it and read my own safety comments further down.

Serves 4 (about 800 mL)

Preparation: 10 – 20 min
Cooking: 5 min
Inactivity: 4 – 24 hours

  • Electric mixer with wire whisks and bowl (what I use)
  • Whisk
  • Two bowls which fit in the fridge/freezer for cooling
  • Chopping boards and knives
  • Large pan or wide pot
  • Wooden spoon or turner
  • Silicone spatula
  • Heat proof container for caramel
  • Airtight(!) container to store caramelized pecans
  • About 2 Tbsp of rice, to keep the pecans crunchy
  • Baking paper
  • Tea towel
  • Meat tenderizer or hammer
  • Freezer suitable storage container
  • Plastic or metal bowls, ice cubes and cold water
  • Fridge and freezer

Ingredients

  • 300 mL cream
  • 300 mL milk
  • 125 g pecan nuts
  • 200 g sugar to caramelize the pecans
  • 2 Tbsp oil or butter (about 50 mL or g)
  • 200 mL maple syrup (100 %)
  • 300 mL cream for caramel
  • 250 g sugar for caramel

Procedure

Prepare early (up to 24 h)

  • Set the freezer as cold as possible as early as you can. Best the day before.
  • If you use an ice cream maker, prepare it according to instructions. Often this means putting a part into the freezer 24 h early. Any part of the equipment pre-cooled reduces the time until you have your gelato.
    Caramel:
  • First make the caramel (the pan is easier to clean of the caramel and can be re-used). Weigh in the 300 mL of cream (300 g) and place close by the stove so you can reach it easy.
  • Weigh in the sugar and place it in the pan or pot.
  • Place a coaster or trivet in a safe place, so you can place the pot or pan somewhere safe if need be.
  • Heat the pan or pot with the sugar on high heat, stirring then distributing the sugar evenly with the wooden spoon.
  • The sugar will start to melt just like if it was water, turn the stove down to about medium heat at this point.
  • Keep stirring the sugar until all is melted, it may take a while. If it is a tiny bit brown/caramel-ish already when dissolved, put in part of the cream, stir in well and let it bubble up, then add the rest of the cream and mix well.
    If it wasn’t a little brown/caramel-ish yet, stir it until it just has a very light caramelized colour, then add the cream as above in 2-3 steps, mixing it well in between each step.
  • Pour the caramel into a heat proof container and let cool.
  • Be careful tasting it, it will be VERY hot at the start. Check on the outside of the container how hot – it will get really thick when cooled.
  • Clean out the pan with cold water and a cloth – let water run until the water in the pan is cold enough to actually use the cloth. Wipe it out thoroughly, then dry.
    Caramelized Pecans:
  • I’m still learning to get the best results, so I’ll describe two different ways, one of which was the last I’ve tried that worked reasonably OK. The other one is ‘just’ copied from people who’ve done better according to their pictures, but I haven’t tried it out yet.
  • My last method:
    • Set your coaster/trivet in a safe spot so you can store the hot pot or pan easily if necessary. Prepare a chopping board covered with a sheet of baking paper.
    • Add 2 Tbsp of butter or oil to the pan and add the sugar.
    • Heat until the sugar has melted in the oil, constantly stirring it.
    • When melted, add the nuts and keep stirring, until the sugar is lightly browning. This may take a moment.
    • When all nuts are nicely covered and the sugar has a caramel colour, transfer them to the baking paper, spreading them out.
    • Once cooled, wrap the nuts in the baking paper and wrap the lot in a tea towel. Use the meat tenderizer/hammer to separate those which are connected by solid caramel.
  • Method from the web:
    • Set your coaster/trivet in a safe spot so you can store the hot pot or pan easily if necessary. Prepare a chopping board covered with a sheet of baking paper.
    • Use 125 g of the sugar and 60 mL of water. Don’t use the butter.
    • Bring the water and sugar to a boil in the pot or pan stirring constantly.
    • When sugar is dissolved and the liquid has foamed up once, add the pecans.
    • Stir constantly, until you can see the bottom of the pan and all liquid is evaporated (about 5 min) and the pecans start to get dry.
    • Keep stirring constantly and keep a close eye on them at all times! Take them out when the sugar starts liquidising again, this time because it is melting (rather than dissolving).
    • When the nuts are covered in shiny light caramel-coloured sugar, spread them on the baking paper on the chopping board, spread out and let cool.
    • They should be easy to separate, if not, use a tea towel and meat tenderizer as described above.
  • Store the caramelized pecans in an airtight container in the fridge, placing some rice on the bottom of the container and covering it with baking paper. Place the pecans on top of the baking paper.
  • On the day:
  • Put the cream in a bowl and whip thoroughly, but stop short before making butter. In the Kenwood Cooking Chef this took about 3:30 min on speed 4 using the power whisk, but keep an eye on it. Your cream may whip much faster or slower!
  • Transfer the whipped cream into a container using the spatula and place in the freezer until use in 10 min.
  • Mix the milk and the maple syrup with a whisk in a bowl until totally combined and place in the freezer as well, until the 10 min for the whipped cream are up.
    This only serves to make sure that the cream and milk-mix are really cool.

Without ice cream maker

If you do not have an ice cream maker, this part is the most important to keep the ice cream creamy.

  • Let milk, cream, pecans and caramel get really cold, but keep the cream, pecans and caramel in the fridge rather than the freezer.
  • Leave the maple milk in the freezer until a rim of frozen milk forms around the edges, this will take possibly 45 min depending on how cold it is to start with. Check it earlier.
  • Mix the rim into the maple milk and let this rim form twice again, best if the mixture turns into a slush texture.
  • At the second rim forming, mix the mixture so it becomes liquid-ish- slushy and fold in the cold and whipped cream.
  • Folding in the whipped cream replaces to a degree what the ice cream maker can do in terms of avoiding ice crystal forming and incorporating air.
  • Depending on how cold the maple milk was, this last step does not take long. Place the  maple ice cream back into the freezer until just the right texture or store in the freezer for later.
  • Switch the freezer back to normal.
  • Be aware that the creamyness requires a higher temperature than the freezer has (I think I read – 4°C instead of -25 °C, but am not sure). Take the gelato out and place it in the fridge about 15-30 min prior to serving to make it softer.

With Ice Cream Maker

  1. Fold the cooled whipped cream into the maple milk. Don’t worry about small lumps of whipped cream here.
  2. Let the ice cream maker do the rest, filling the semi-liquid maple ice cream into the running ice cream maker. The whipping of the cream in advance does amazing things to the texture.
  3. Finish the ice cream according to the manufacturers instructions, adding as many caramelized pecans and caramel as you like short before the end.
    Use the leftover caramel and pecans for ice-cream topping!
  4. Store the ice cream in the freezer, if prepared for later.
  5. Switch the freezer back to normal.
  6. Be aware that the creamyness requires a higher temperature than the freezer has (I think I read – 4°C instead of -25 °C, but am not sure). Take the gelato out and place it in the fridge about 15-30 min prior to serving to make it softer.

This is such a lovely ice cream! And if you prepare the caramel and pecans in advance and store them in the fridge, making the ice cream is really very little work on the day!!!

 

Working with hot sugar:
I am not an expert at all on safety issues with hot sugar, so if you are after expert advise, please search for expert sources on the web or ask safety and first aid experts. However, these comments should give you a good starting base to decide if you are ‘up for it’ I hope.
One of the biggest mistakes I personally could imagine is an ‘I’ll be fine’ attitude. Keep cold, running water in reach, prepare your workspace, have room and be calm without time constraints, especially if you’ve never done it before. Go through what you want to do and prepare all ingredients weighed-in in advance, easy to reach. Wear an apron you can take off easily, maybe wear liquid-proof (not normal) oven mitts. If you don’t have those, you may be better off not wearing any gloves, because the liquid sugar may go through towel or oven mittens, make them stick to your skin, when you rip them off they may take your skin with them and prevent you from getting cold water to the area that really needs it quickly. Wearing some sort of glasses may be an idea as well, I would guess simple clear biking glasses could do. I come from a lab environment, where you wear personal protection equipment according to the danger of the substance and task ahead. I personally don’t wear the glasses and mtits, but I make sure I stay away from the sugar.
Have coasters/trivets set out to place the hot pan or pot if needed, prepare a chopping board covered with baking paper for caramelized nuts and a heat-proof container for the caramel. Have everything in reach!
Do not ever leave the sugar in the hot pan on its own, stand beside it all the time or take the pan or pot off the stove. It will burn much quicker than you expect, the pot or pan will be ridiculously hot and then you may get stressed. Avoid that. If you’ve never worked with hot sugar, you may even ask a friend to work with you, so you can get a hand if needed and you could both keep an eye on being safe. Make sure any kids, pets or other ‘interfering’ individuals are kept out of the circus.
This all sounds really serious for a bit of sugar and you may be totally alright. However, you also want to have all in place to solve any issue arising without running unnecessary risks.

Now for the sugar:
Hot sugar can be worse than hot oil. It sticks to your skin or anything as a thick, hell-hot goo, it will NOT drip off and just burn and burn until it finally cools down itself, insulating your skin from any cooling – and it takes a LONG time to cool (you can check your caramelized nuts occasionally – don’t touch, just get close with your fingers to feel the heat). So the best thing to get hot sugar off your skin that I found is to wash it off with COLD RUNNING WATER (like any other burn basically). Lots of it, as cold as possible and bearable for a very very long time. The sugar itself takes a moment to wash off. That is extremely painful, but I personally would not know another way of getting rid of the sugar without taking the skin off at the same time. Let the water run as cold as possible and run and run and run – I did for about 30 min (yes, really) when I got a sugar-burn and then kept that part of the hand in ice-cube cooled water afterwards, exchanging the ice cubes occasionally, until I could not feel the burning returning any more when taking out (maybe an hour or more). I had a large blister 2 days later where the thickest-sugar coat was attached and my skin peeled over the next 2 weeks in several places but in general I was OK and could use my hand as well as being mostly free of pain. I consider that actually quite good, considering the immense pain I first felt with the sugar covering about 5 to 7 cm². I don’t think I’ve ever had a worse burn EVER.
So in summary, I personally think if dealt with sensibly and with patience and calm it’s reasonably safe to work with hot sugar, just be mindful of the risks.
Keep calm and caramelize on *lol

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