Brown Sugar-Bourbon Ice Cream – A Little Holiday Cheer

Without ice cream, there would be darkness and chaos. ~ Don Kardong

Darkness and chaos may be a bit of an exaggeration, but life would certainly be less sweet without an occasional bowl of this delightful frozen confection.  Always a favorite way to end a meal, this recipe combines a rich and luscious dessert with an after dinner shot of bourbon.  Minus the rocks.

I am continuously in pursuit of outstanding ice cream recipes and pinched the page when I came across this in the holiday issue of Bon Appétit.  Brown sugar, bourbon, and heavy cream are a flavor combination not to be missed and perfect for holiday entertaining.  Besides, we could all use a bowl of something sweet and boozy during this hectic and somewhat stressful time of year.

This ice cream tastes like caramel and bourbon

While the end result was exceptional in flavor, I was hesitant to publish the recipe because the directions didn’t quite add up.  The recipe says it yields a quart of ice cream, but the amount of liquids going into the ice cream were less than two cups.  I knew this was fuzzy math and I considered adding an extra cup of cream to the mixture, however, I followed the recipe as it was written, curious to see the final outcome.

The ice cream had a luxuriously smooth texture and was completely decadent (six egg yolks might have something to do with that).  As expected, it did not yield a quart, but rather a pint, and just enough for two to three servings.  It had the perfect balance of sweetness with the bourbon, especially since I added an extra splash or two of Maker’s Mark. 😉  Similar in texture to Hägeen-Dazs and every bit as velvety and rich, enjoy each bite and don’t worry about the calorie count, after all, it is the holidays and the annual New Year’s resolution of losing those few extra pounds is just around the corner.


Maybe another splash of bourbon on top?

Here are a few other holiday ice cream recipes that you might enjoy:

Peppermint Stick Ice Cream

Spiced Honey Ice Cream

Double Vanilla Bourbon Ice Cream

* I have made several comments on the recipe about the texture and thickness of the custard.  When you make the recipe, you will want to be sure to read the Cook’s Notes.

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Brown Sugar-Bourbon Ice Cream

Cook's notes: The milk, cream, and sugar mixture (as mentioned in the recipe) will curdle. That is normal. You will also find that it is somewhat grainy even after you have strained it through a fine mesh sieve. This texture completely goes away when you freeze the ice cream. It becomes incredibly smooth. Also, the mixture thickened up quite a bit overnight. While I was tempted to add another cup of cream, I did not. If you decide to make that addition to yield more ice cream, you would need to add more sugar as the balance of sweetness to bourbon is perfect as is.


1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
6 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon (or more) bourbon (I used Maker's Mark)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Stir milk, cream, and brown sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until mixture comes to a rolling boil (it may look curdled, but this is normal).

2. Meanwhile, whisk yolks, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl until mixture is pale yellow and sugar dissolves.

3. Place a medium metal bowl in a large bowl of ice water; set a fine-mesh sieve over metal bowl. Whisking yolk mixture constantly, gradually add hot cream mixture (to prevent the eggs in the yolk mixture from scrambling). Return to pan. Stir custard over low heat until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 2 minutes. Immediately strain custard into metal bowl. Let custard cool completely, stirring often.

4. Stir 1 Tablespoon bourbon and vanilla into custard. Add more bourbon to taste by teaspoonfuls, if desired. Custard can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

5. Process custard in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. Transfer ice cream to an airtight container, cover, and freeze. Ice cream can be made 3 days ahead.

Bon Appétit - December 2012

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