One of my favorite treats at the Minnesota State Fair is a honey and sunflower seed ice cream. That ice cream inspired this honey almond ice cream recipe that has a perfect combination of floral honey flavors and a touch of nuttiness. The ice cream base is infused with almonds and honey with just a touch of salt to balance out the sweetness. It is smooth and creamy with a bit of floral notes from the honey. The smooth texture comes from infusing the almonds with the custard ice cream base before straining. The honey is added after making the custard base to maximize its flavor. I use a local wildflower honey, but any honey would work well here. This ice cream is a perfect topping for fruit crisps – pears, apples, and plums would all be particularly delicious.
If you have an ice cream maker requiring a frozen bowl, make sure to put it in the freezer at least 24 hours before you plan to churn the ice cream.
To make the ice cream base, warm 1 cup milk and 1 cup cream with the sugar and salt in a heavy-bottomed saucepan until hot, but not quite boiling.
Finely chop or grind the almonds in a food processor. Add the almonds to the ice cream base. Cover, remove from heat and let the almonds steep into the milk mixture for an hour.
Put the remaining 1/2 cup milk and 1/2 cup cream into a bowl. Set a mesh strainer over the bowl. You will be straining the ice cream base into this bowl – the strainer helps to make the ice cream silky smooth by removing the almonds and any unevenly cooked eggs. The cold milk and cream help stop the cooking process to avoid overcooking the custard.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks. Return the steeped almond mixture to the heat briefly. Once it is hot, but not quite boiling, transfer a small amount of the warm milk mixture to the eggs, stirring constantly as you add the milk to temper the eggs. This helps prevent them from scrambling.
Add a little more of the hot milk mixture, stir again. Continue adding liquid to the eggs while stirring until you have added about a cup of liquid total. Then add the egg mixture back into the saucepan.
Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. In my experience, this only takes a few minutes, but it depends a bit on your saucepan and stove.
Pour the custard through the strainer into the bowl with the milk and cream. Let it cool for a few minutes, then stir in the honey. If you are in a hurry, you can immediately chill the ice cream in an ice bath. Otherwise, refrigerate for at least 8 hours (I usually chill it overnight).
Freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Freeze for a few hours before serving to allow the ice cream to firm up.