Flavored with brown sugar, nutmeg, maple syrup, and vanilla, this buttery homemade custard style ice cream tastes like lazy mornings spent lingering over a plate full of maple syrup and butter drenched French toast.
Homemade Custard Style French Toast Ice Cream
True story. The French Toast Ice Cream you see pictured here is the fourth batch I made because we ate the other three before I had a chance to take pictures of it. The only reason why I was able to snap these is because I made a double batch.
Richly flavored with brown butter, maple syrup, brown sugar, and vanilla, it really does taste like French toast.
And, yes. We have actually eaten it for breakfast on thick slices of French toast, and it is crazy good.
French Toast Ice Cream Recipe Notes
This custard style ice cream is made by mixing brown butter butterscotch into a basic custard ice cream base, refrigerating the whole thing for a few hours, then pouring it into an electric ice cream maker to churn. Because both the butterscotch and the custard base are cooked, you might be wondering why you need to go through the trouble of cooking them separately. The reason is simple, but important.
There is a lot of molasses in brown sugar (yum). Molasses is acidic, so if you cook it with milk, there's a pretty good chance the milk will curdle. To avoid curdled milk, we simply cook the brown sugar with the cream, adding it to the milk and egg yolk custard after its cooled. Easy-peasy.
Another step you might be tempted to skip is letting the ice cream mixture chill for at least 8 hours in the refrigerator before pouring it into your ice cream maker. This is sometimes called "curing" and it greatly improves the texture and the flavor of the frozen ice cream. If you are desperate for ice cream right now and skip the curing process, your bowl of French toast ice cream will still be absolutely delicious. But, if you can wait, that little bit of curing time produces a smoother, creamier, more flavorful ice cream.
What is Xanthan Gum and Why is it in this ice cream recipe?
If you or someone in your house is on a gluten free diet, chances are pretty good that you have some xanthan gum in your kitchen. If not, you might be wondering what that is. Xanthan gum is a natural thickener and stabilizer that prevents ingredients from separating. It's essential in many gluten free baked goods because it replaces some of the elasticity and texture of gluten, binding ingredients together and reducing crumbliness in the finished product.
In ice cream, xanthan gum prevents large ice crystals from forming during the freezing process so that you end up with a much creamier ice cream. Perhaps even more importantly, xanthan gum slows the growth of ice crystals in ice cream stored in the freezer, so your ice cream will remain creamy and scoopable for days.
My local market doesn't always have xanthan gum in stock, so I purchase it on Amazon. You only need about ¼ teaspoon for this ice cream recipe, but xanthan gum will keep for months in a zip tight container stored at room temperature.
Don't forget to strain the ice cream base.
In most custard style ice cream recipes, straining the cooked custard before curing it in the refrigerator is important because it removes any slightly curdled or cooked eggs. Straining is especially important in this recipe because it will remove a lot of the nutmeg powder. Nutmeg is essential to invoke the flavor of French toast in this ice cream, but if you don't strain most of it out, the texture of the ice cream will be slightly grainy - almost like there is a bit of fine sand in your ice cream. Not really what I'm going for when I make homemade ice cream.
Cooking the nutmeg in the butterscotch infuses its flavor into the ice cream, so you can strain it out and not loose all that nutmeg-y goodness in the finished product.
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 ½ cups heavy cream
- ¾ cup dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 5 large egg yolks
- 2 cups whole milk
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- ¼ teaspoon xanthan gum
- Add the butter to a medium size, heavy bottom saucepan set over medium heat. Let the butter cook until it is a rich golden brown - watch carefully once it starts to brown so that it doesn’t burn.
- Add the cream, brown sugar, salt, and nutmeg to the brown butter, turn the heat up to medium-high, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. When the mixture begins to boil, remove the pan from the heat and pour it into a bowl. Stir in the vanilla and chill the mixture in the refrigerator, stirring occasionally, until it’s at room temperature.
- While the butterscotch mixture chills, fill a large bowl halfway with ice and set aside.
- Add the egg yolks to a medium size heat proof bowl, whisk briefly to combine, and set next to the stovetop.
- Add the milk and maple syrup to a medium size saucepan set over medium-high heat and bring to a rolling boil. Very slowly, pour about 1 cup of the hot milk into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, while you pour the milk in a thin, steady stream. Whisk the egg yolk and milk mixture back into the saucepan with the rest of the milk and put the pan back on the burner over low heat.
- Stirring constantly, cook the milk and egg mixture until it thickens enough to thinly coat the back of a wooden spoon - about 180 degrees. Remove from the heat, pour into a bowl, and nestle the bowl inside the larger bowl that you’ve filled with ice. Let cool to room temperature, stirring from time to time.
- When the milk and egg mixture is at room temperature, pour it into a blender and add the xanthan gum. Turn the blender to low and mix for 20-30 seconds to combine. Add the butterscotch mixture and blend on low for another 20 seconds to combine. Pour the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl. Cover, and refrigerate at least 8 hours, or up to 48 hours.
- Follow the manufactures directions to freeze the ice cream in an electric ice cream maker. Scoop the ice cream (which will be the constancy of soft serve) into a freezer container and freeze for at least 4 hours before serving.