They say it’s your birthday, well it’s my birthday too, yeah! Today’s my 29th birthday. I’m ALMOST 30!!! Where does the time go? This weekend, my parents came up to Charlotte to take me to lunch since my birthday falls on a Monday (ugh, I know!). We went and ate burgers at Kickstand in Plaza Midwood and had such a great time. We had way too much food – burgers, wings, and fried pickles and a few beers, but it was so fun to see them. They took Cooper, my cat, back with them to spend a week or two, and I think it’ll be the first birthday I spend without her! Tonight, I’m going out to dinner and just having a low-key kind of night. No big party or anything, but I’m fine with it. Now, next year, on my 30th…that’ll be another story.
I decided to make an ice cream to celebrate – and in one of my favorite flavors, pralines and cream. The first time I had it was on Hilton Head where my mom had made a batch of vanilla ice cream and crumbled bits of pralines she had bought downtown Savannah. It was for my aunt and uncle’s birthday party when they had rented a huge house on the beach for our families to come out and celebrate for the week. The ice cream was so good – my cousin Katy and I actually finished off the rest of the ice cream (just two spoons and the container, per our MO) right before they flew out. This version uses a simple vanilla ice cream and the easiest-to-make pecan pralines. It’s delicious, creamy, and sweet – the perfect dessert to celebrate a 29th birthday (or anytime, really).
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- Pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- For the pralines:
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1 Tbsp water
- Pinch of salt
- 3/4 cup pecan halves
- To make the vanilla ice cream, place the heavy cream into a large bowl set over ice. In another bowl, whisk the egg yolks together. In a medium sauce pan add the milk, sugar, and salt and set over medium heat. Warm the mixture, but do not boil the milk. Once the milk has been warmed, temper the eggs by stirring a little bit of the milk into the egg yolks at a time, constantly whisking. When the eggs have been tempered, pour the eggs into the sauce pan. Over low heat, stir the custard until it has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon.
- Strain the custard into the bowl with the heavy cream. Stir to combine. Add the vanilla and stir, then cover the bowl and place in the fridge for at least 2 hours, overnight is best.
- For the pralines, in a medium saucepan with a thermometer attached, stir together the cream, brown sugar, sugar, butter, water, and salt over medium high heat. Stir constantly until the mixture reaches the softball stage - 240 degrees. Remove the pan from the stove and stir in the pecans. Stir constantly for 2-3 minutes until the mixture cools. Spoon out the mixture into 5-6 pralines on a sheet pan topped with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Cool completely.
- Freeze the ice cream mixture according to your ice cream maker's instructions. After it's done, scoop the ice cream into a large bowl and crumble or chop up the pecan pralines (you may only use some of the pralines, depending upon how much you like in your ice cream) and gently fold them in. Place in the freezer for at least 30 minutes to firm up and then serve immediately.
Praline recipe adapted from Emeril Lagasse