Thursday, January 12, 2012

Nutmeg Ice Cream

I made this ice cream before Christmas to accompany the Eggnog cookies.  Unfortunately, their flavor profiles were so similar, that there wasn't much of a difference in how they tasted.  I had to mentally smack myself in the forehead for thinking that nutmeg custard (read: egg-based) ice cream would be much different from eggnog cookies with nutmeg.

Oh well, you live and learn, right? 

In any event, I liked the ice cream well enough, but felt that it needed more flavor.  The nutmeg flavor just wasn't strong enough.  The nutmeg only imparted a light, oddly floral note that is almost lost in the richness of the custard base.  This has got to be due to the extremely short steeping time.  When I was reviewing the recipe, I thought it was odd that it called for steeping the nutmeg for only 10 minutes. Any other recipe I've seen that requires steeping says to do so for about an hour.  I've adjusted the time in the recipe, but know that I didn't actually steep for that long, so maybe check your base at 30 minutes or so.   

Final bit of advice: normally, I suggest an overnight chill in the fridge for custard bases, but here, it is required.  It's absolutely crucial to developing the full flavor of the nutmeg.

Nutmeg Ice Cream
Adapted from Saveur

Yield: About 1 Quart

To easily crack the nutmeg, either use a nutcracker or place the nutmeg in a plastic bag and smash it with a hammer or a rolling pin.  Don't just bang it with your rolling pin on the counter because the nutmeg will shatter everywhere, not that I did any such thing (ahem).


2 cups half-and-half
1 whole nutmeg, cracked
2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
 3/4 cup sugar
6 egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream


Heat half-and-half and cracked nutmeg in a 4-qt. saucepan until it just begins to simmer. Remove from heat; let steep for 10 minutes (at least - see liner notes above).

While the cracked nutmeg is steeping, toast grated nutmeg in a skillet over medium heat, 1–2 minutes. (This is optional.  It adds a somewhat floral essence to the nutmeg.)  Remove pan from heat; set aside.

In a bowl, whisk together sugar and yolks. Then, still whisking, slowly pour in half-and-half mixture. Return mixture to pan; cook, stirring, until mixture thickens, 8–10 minutes. Pour through a fine strainer into a large bowl or measuring cup (which is what I always do). Whisk in toasted nutmeg and cream; cover custard and chill in the fridge overnight.

Freeze custard according to manufacturers instructions.

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