This is a creamy, luscious custard-style ice cream sweetened with maple syrup in place of white sugar. An easy stove-top custard is first made with heavy cream, milk, maple syrup and egg yolks, and then chilled before churning in your ice cream maker. The toasted maple pecans add an abundance of flavor so that you don’t even miss the sugar. With no stabilizers or preservatives to mask the flavors, there is really no substitute for homemade ice cream. Plan ahead as the ice cream is best made over a couple of days, allowing the custard base to chill before finishing in the ice cream machine.
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the pecans on a baking sheet or roasting tray and toast for 5-8 minutes or until lightly toasted and fragrant. Set aside to cool. Combine the toasted pecans and the maple syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat. With a wooden spoon, stir the nuts for about 3-4 minutes or until the nuts are completely coated with the syrup. When the bottom of the pan is dry and the nuts are coated, remove from the heat and let cool before using. The nuts can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week.
Combine the milk and cream in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and cook until small bubbles form on the edges of the mixture and it’s almost at a boil. Combine all 8 yolks into a medium bowl (save the whites for another recipe). Slowly whisk in the maple syrup into the yolks until well combined. Slowly ladle a little of the hot cream mixture into the eggs yolks, whisking constantly – this is referred to as tempering and prevents the eggs from scrambling. Continue to slowly add all the hot cream to the egg yolks while whisking. Return the entire mixture back to your saucepan and cook over medium heat for about 8 minutes. The mixture will thicken and it will coat the back of a spoon when dipped in. Set a fine-mesh strainer over a large bowl. Remove the custard from the heat and pour the mixture through the strainer. Whisk in the vanilla and the salt.
Cover the custard and refrigerate for a few hours until cold or chill overnight. Churn the ice cream in your ice cream maker, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. When the ice cream is finished churning, mix in the pecans and stir until evenly distributed. Transfer the ice cream to a freezer safe container and store for at least 3 hours or overnight. The ice cream can be stored for up to a month.