Recipe for homemade buttered pecan ice cream, old-fashioned and delicious. Plus, to pair with the ice cream, a simple recipe for Meringue Cookies, sweet and studded with pecans. Plus, an introduction to native Missouri pecans, smaller and sweeter than pecans from other regions.
It’s time for the Show-Me State to show off its culinary gold: fingertip-tiny, syrup-sweet, native Missouri pecans.
Missouri is the northernmost reach of pecan country. Our shorter season and colder climate produce nuts that are smaller, sweeter and richer than the southern brethren.
The trees grow alongside fields and rivers, mostly in farm country near Brunswick, 50 crow-miles northwest of Columbia, and Nevada, 90 miles south of Kansas City.
Many trees are 200 years old. These days, farm entrepreneurs plant groves. “For the grandchildren,” they laugh, since trees don’t produce nuts for 15 or 20 years. Tree by tree, the nuts are painstakingly harvested in November.
Missouri pecans are Show-Me special for lucky-we-live-close cooks. Seek them out in local markets, then buy enough to last through the next harvest, allowing for new demand. Store in the freezer to keep fresh.
BUTTERED PECAN ICE CREAM
Time to table: 24 hours
Makes 4 cups
CUSTARD for ICE CREAM
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 cups cream
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 cup maple syrup (see TIPS)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 cup pecans, finely chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon good salt (see TIPS)
Preheat oven to 350F.
CUSTARD In a large saucepan, heat milk and cream on medium, stirring often, til very hot but do not boil. Separately, whisk eggs, maple syrup and vanilla. Whisking continuously, pour hot liquid into eggs a half cup at a time. Return to saucepan. Cook until thick, stirring continuously. (It’s done once a spoon dipped in the custard keeps a clean line when a finger is drawn across; or when an instant-read thermometer reads 170F – 175F.) Strain through a sieve into a glass container, discarding solids. Place plastic wrap on surface of custard, cover and refrigerate 24 hours.
PECANS While custard cooks, melt butter in microwave in 10-second increments. Stir in pecans and salt. Transfer to rimmed baking sheet. Toast nuts for 8 minutes, til nuts absorb butter and turn shade darker. Cool then refrigerate.
ICE CREAM Process custard in ice cream maker til thick. Add pecans in last 5 minutes. Serve immediately or return to freezer to serve later.
Where to purchase Missouri native pecans? The season for fresh pecans is late fall, just before Thanksgiving. Here are St Louis and Missouri locations.
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