Having lived in Florida, I developed an appreciation for Georgia peaches–golden, delicate, deliciously perfumed, sweet, supple peaches. I always buy way too many at a time (a habit of mine with many a fruit) and tend to just wolf them down and make a mess of myself. I was tempted to make a peach pie, but opted for ice cream instead. Despite having posted other ice creams recently, this is actually one of the first things I made after I moved to North Carolina–having an empty freezer just didn’t sit well with me, so I addressed that issue very promptly with some peach ice cream, accented with a handful of other flavors that I thought would complement peach nicely.
I didn’t want to overwhelm the peach flavor, but rather, wanted to enhance it. I chose to do so with two major side kicks: praline (which is caramel + almond + pecan) and ginger. These added a bit of intrigue without stealing the limelight–dark, smoky, sweet, nutty, spicy notes that rounded out the peach flavor, giving it a more all-over-your-mouth experience that peach alone doesn’t do. I also roasted the peaches to intensify their flavor and tease out that delicious, sticky, peach syrup.
The approach to making this particular ice cream is similar to another strongly nut-flavored one I’ve done in the past, where the key to teasing the flavor out of the nuts is to cook them how you like them (e.g. make a praline by roasting them and coating with caramel), grinding finely to a powder/paste, and then extracting the oils from that into the cream you’ll use in your ice cream. It sounds involved, but its remarkably simple and the flavor is really hard to beat or replicate.
- Praline Paste
- 1/3 cup pecan
- 1/3 cup almond
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 cup cream
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2-1 inch knob ginger
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Roasted Peaches
- 6 peaches
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 6 egg yolks
- 1/4 cup honey
Begin by making the praline paste. Toast the (shelled) nuts on a baking sheet in a 350°F oven for 10 minutes. In a saucepan, melt the sugar down into caramel (figure 10 minutes of medium-high heat) without stirring. Once totally caramel in color, drop the heat to low and add the toasted nuts in and give things a stir so all the nuts get coated.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and carefully pour the contents of the pan out onto the paper so that its spread out a bit. Give this some time to cool down, and once cool, grind this down into a powder in your food processor.
In a saucepan, mix the milk, praline paste, salt, finely diced ginger (don’t bother peeling it), and 1 cup of the cream. Scald this mixture over medium heat and then cover and remove from heat, Leave it to steep for at least an hour so the nut oils and ginger flavor are released into the cream. When time is up, strain this mixture, squeezing every last drop of liquid out and discarding the solids.
While you wait on that, you should concern yourself with the peaches. Cut them in half, stone them, and toss with the brown sugar and melted butter. Roast these, cut side down, in a 400°F oven for 30-40 minutes. Once time is up, you should have no difficulty peeling off the skin. Then, blitz the remaining 1 cup of cream and peaches (and all of those syrupy juices) in a food processor to the consistency you’re happy with (do you want chunks of peach in your final ice cream? Or do you want it silky smooth). I like a little bit of chunk–it keeps things interesting. Set this peach mixture aside in a bowl over an ice bath. Prop a strainer on top.
Reheat the infused cream and mix in the honey. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg yolks until lightened in color and then temper them with a bit of the hot cream. Transfer the yolks into the hot cream and stir constantly over medium heat, cooking for 5-10 minutes or until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Pour the cooked custard through the strainer into the peaches and cream. Whisk this all together well, let sit for 2 minutes or so, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside in the fridge for a few hours to chill down. Churn in your ice cream maker for 20 minutes and let it firm up in the freezer over night.