Kir Royale Ice Cream Floats with Chambord Berries

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It seems like just a few weeks ago that I was mustering my very best Sentimental Blog Thoughts to bid adieu to 2014, and now here we are, mere days from a brand new year altogether and once again, I’m wondering how 12 months could have possibly flown by so quickly.

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I’ve always felt a little bad for New Year’s as a holiday, because everyone spends so much time preparing for Thanksgiving and Christmas, that New Year’s becomes almost an afterthought (albeit an afterthought that always brings immense pressure).

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In anticipation of NYE, you basically have a few-day-window during which you’re expected to: recover from Christmas bloat, choose an outfit that minimizes said bloat, text a bunch of people to make NYE plans then cancel them in favor of just staying home, and my personal favorite, make public proclamations about how you’re going to be better/different/faster/stronger/more fun the following year.

It’s a lot to think about in a short period of time.

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Maybe it’s not this way for everyone – I’m sure there are some families who have special New Year’s parties every year or who go balls to the wall with NYE traditions. In our house, we have our own little rituals: cheese and champagne on NYE, then pork, sauerkraut, and homemade potato dumplings on New Year’s Day.

One of my absolute favorite things about the small window of time between Christmas and New Year’s is the inevitable end-of-year wrap-up themes and lists that surface everywhere from radio to blogs to magazines to CNN. You know – the “Top 20 Most Shocking News Stories of 2015” or “Top Ten Celebrity Scandals,” etc.

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Call it sensationalized media if you want, but 365 is a lot of days, and it’s hard to consciously keep track of every single thing that happens. I don’t know about you, but I always appreciate others putting in the work for me. I love those dumb lists as a reminder of all the things I’ve forgotten, and it gives me a chance to reflect on just how much has happened in 2015.

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One of the best things about blogging, or journaling, or any kind of creative outlet for that matter, is that it does kind of force you to stop and reflect on the state of your affairs once in a while.

At the risk of sounding too millennial, blogging has been such a blessing. It’s a fun way, through food and writing, to share our memories and keep track of all the things that happen throughout our year.

Gosh, no wonder millions of people have blogs!

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Don’t worry, I’m not going to do a “The Spoon DOES Fit: My 2015 Year in Blogging” post or anything like that. Certainly, it’s been an awesome year and the hubs and I have a lot to be grateful for, but I’m just not feeling the elaborate send-off today.

I’d rather send 2015 out with style. And, with the upmost ease. To celebrate, I give you what might be my easiest recipe ever!

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I didn’t make the ice cream for this float – I bought it from a store (the HORROR!) – and it was seriously so liberating you guys! I might have to do this more often in 2016.

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No, I didn’t make the ice cream, and I don’t have some fun back story for this post or moment of profound inspiration (although it’s debatable whether or not I ever have those!).

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Rather, I just wanted to do something fun and easy for which I could use these adorable glasses that were gifted to us for our wedding shower by a dear, dear friend. Add in the natural prettiness of the Chambord bottle and roasted berries, and voila! Festive float goodness with absolute minimal effort.

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You can use any combination of your favorite berries for this recipe – I used a pint of blackberries, a pint of raspberries, and a handful or so of chopped strawberries just because we had them around and they add a nice sweetness. I roasted them until they were plump and juicy and fragrant, then submerged them in a few tablespoons of Chambord. It’s so easy!

Don’t believe me? Here’s how you make these fancy little floats:

First, pick a pretty glass:

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Add your Chambord soaked fruit to the bottom of the glass. Be generous!

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Then, add a scoop or two of high quality or homemade vanilla ice cream to your glass.

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Would you just look at this beaut?

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Now, top the ice cream with more fruit. Almost done!

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Don’t be shy!

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Yum!!

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Now, the best part: pour in as much (or as little) champagne as you like.

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Garnish with fruit or a fun straw, and go to town!

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Great work!

Now, drink it all up and leave the dishes for the next morning.

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This float is festive and fun without being too labor-intensive. The best part – you should have leftover berries for future sundaes or just to eat on the side (if you know, one of your New Year’s resolutions is to be happy and eat awesome food).

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Thanks for all the memories this year!! You’ve made 2015 so much fun, and I can’t wait to spend 2016 with you all!

So, for the last time in 2015: happy scooping 🙂

Kir Royale Floats

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Yield: 4 to 6 Floats

Ingredients:

2 to 3 pints of your favorite berries (I used a combo of blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries)

¼ sugar

3 tablespoons of Chambord or other raspberry liquor

Vanilla Ice Cream

Champagne or sparkling wine

Directions:

  1. Make the Chambord berries: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In an 8 x 8 dish or pan lined with foil or parchment paper, assemble berries and sprinkle with the sugar. Roast in the oven, until plump and fragrant, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, give them a gentle stir, and allow to cool to room temperature. Move to a storage container (glass jars work great for this!), and fill with a few tablespoons of Chambord. Seal the jar, give it a slight shake so all berries are covered with alcohol, then store the jar in the fridge until ready to make the floats or up to a week afterwards.
  2. Assemble the floats: Spoon a few tablespoons of the Chambord berries into the bottom of a pretty cocktail glass or champagne flute. Top with a scoop or two of vanilla ice cream, then more berries. Slowly add champagne to the glass, covering the berries and ice cream completely. Garnish with extra fruit or a pretty straw.
  3. Enjoy!

 

Milk and Cookies Ice Cream

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One of my absolute favorite things about being a kid at Christmastime each year was the very important task of assembling a plate of cookies to leave out for Santa on Christmas Eve.

Like many children who believed in Santa, I was completely enamored with the idea. It was the most magical of concepts; the notion that Santa himself would be IN MY HOUSE feasting on cookies and milk as he carefully and quietly arranged an array of artfully wrapped presents beneath the tree (such a multi-tasker, that Santa!).

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Yes, it was absolutely my favorite. But – it was also one of the most dreaded and anxiety-ridden activities of my entire year.

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Even at 6 years old, I was a Type A Perfectionist, and I got really passive aggressive and controlling about choosing which cookies were good enough for Santa’s special Christmas Eve plate (I didn’t know it at the time, but this would be a telltale sign of the frequent internal battles that I would eventually lead later on in life via this blog).

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Growing up, we didn’t really bake a ton of Christmas cookies in our house – I know it sounds a bit blasphemous and anti-American, but my lovely mother (also a Type A Perfectionist, I will note), was a bit of a clean freak, and spending a weekend elbow-deep in powdered sugar wasn’t really her idea of a great time. What can I say; it just wasn’t our thing!

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Because of our lack of cookie making, we were forced to rely on the generosity of kind neighbors and friends, who would arrive at our doorstep each year offering giant platters of colorful Christmas cookies. This is how we typically curated Santa’s plate. It wasn’t the ideal situation; in fact, the idea of giving Santa a selection of our finest Sloppy Seconds inherently wrecked my soul, but it was a far better alternative to leaving him the dreaded STORE BOUGHT cookies (sure, we didn’t bake a ton of cookies, but we weren’t heathens, either).

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As the cookie plates would pile onto the table, I always observed them with an air of condescension. My addiction to chocolate developed at a very young age, and unfortunately for me, Christmas cookies tended to lean more towards the nut or sugar variety (or as I more affectionately referred to them: the boring ones).

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I scrutinized each plate, searching desperately for my favorite – a simple chocolate chip – but those were always few and far between, like some afterthought hidden between layers of dry, Santa-shaped sugar cookies outfitted in a delicate film of pink icing that was masquerading around as “red” (EVERYONE KNOWS YOU NEED TO USE THE GEL FOOD COLORING TO OBTAIN THE PERFECT SHADE OF SANTA RED ARE YOU KIDDING ME WITH THIS S***?!).

Evidently, 6 year old Lindsay had very high standards.

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Today? Well now, that’s a different story. I’ve learned to love all of those cookie varieties that I despised as a child – sugar cookies, Russian tea cakes, pecan tarts, etc. – because luckily for me, your palate tends to change over time when you stress eat your way through your mid to late twenties.

But even now, chocolate chip cookies are my absolute favorite. You can never underestimate the power of a perfectly baked chocolate chip cookie!

And in the eyes of a 6-year old Lindsay, whose diligence defied all reason, a chocolate chip cookie was the only cookie that was good enough for Santa.

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When the time came on Christmas Eve, my mom would always make suggestions about the types of cookies to put on Santa’s plate. Suspiciously, her own favorites always seemed to end up in the mix (just exactly who was eating these cookies, anyhow??).

One year, she placed some of the dreaded sugar cookies on Santa’s plate (no decorative icing, just sanding sugar…the horror!) and I just stared at her in disbelief, like:

REALLY, mom? Santa’s out there busting his a$$ delivering presents to all the good children of the world, and you’re serving up these s*** sugar cookies? THIS IS THE WORST CHRISTMAS EVER!”

(Note: In addition to being slightly to moderately disagreeable, 6-year old Lindsay was also super dramatic. Yet another indication of the struggles that I would have later in life).

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Nothing could match my delight when we were able to offer up a perfectly baked chocolate chip cookie to His Santa Majesty. Like most children, I felt immense excitement on Christmas Eve, but when chocolate chip cookies made an appearance on Santa’s plate, I also experienced an overwhelming sense of calm knowing I’d done the very best that I could, and Santa would no-doubt appreciate my attention to detail and discerning taste.

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So, in honor of my 6-year old self and her unreasonably strong opinions about cookies, I give you Milk and Cookies ice cream. Made with CHOCOLATE CHIP cookies.

Because 6-year old Lindsay? She doesn’t care what you think.

Truthfully, you could probably use any Christmas cookie for this recipe – or at least, any that taste good with milk. I tried really really hard to make the base of this ice cream something special (read: better than vanilla!). After all, this isn’t just a mere Cookies n’ Cream for goodness sake! What am I, an amateur?

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I really wanted this ice cream to capture the full essence of milk and cookies, so I revisited the method that I employed with my recent Teddy Graham Ice Cream where I soaked a cookie in milk until it dissolved, which imparted a sweet and noticeable cookie flavor in the ice cream base. You really could tell a difference – this sure isn’t a Cookies n’ Cream ice cream! It is full-fledged cookies and milk goodness, packed with salty, ooey-gooey cookies.

Look! Can you see them?

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Need proof of its legitimacy? Just take my husband’s word for it:

“Wow. This tastes just like milk and cookies! It really, truly does!”

Considering his disdain for last week’s eggnog ice cream, I was really quite pleased with this outcome (and I’m sure the younger version of myself would have been, too!).

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Forget milk and cookies – give Santa what he really wants this Christmas: Milk and Cookies Ice Cream!

For those of you celebrating this week, have a happy and wonderful holiday! I hope Santa brings you everything you’ve been wishing for! I’m grateful for you all 🙂

Happy scooping!

Milk and Cookies Ice Cream

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Print

Yield: Heaping 1 Quart

Ingredients:

1 cup whole milk, plus 1/4 cup extra

5 egg yolks

1/2 cup sugar

2 cups heavy cream

Large pinch of salt

2 teaspoons of high quality vanilla extract

About half a dozen or so chocolate chip cookies (or your favorite cookie), roughly chopped

Directions:

  1. Make the Cookie Milk: pour whole milk into a glass and submerge one chocolate chip cookie into the milk. Allow to sit until cookie is completely dissolved (except for the chips. Those don’t dissolve 🙂 )
  2. In a medium sized bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until all of the yolks are broken and the sugar is well incorporated.
  3. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the heavy cream and salt until it just begins to steam. A little at a time, pour the warmed cream mixture into the yolks, whisking constantly until all of the cream is incorporated. Pour the warmed yolks back into the saucepan, and continue cooking for ten minutes or so, until the mixture thickens into custard (if using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, the custard should stick to the back; when you wipe your finger across, there should be a clear “path” through the custard).
  4. Strain custard through a sieve into a bowl, and add the Cookie Milk, 1/4 cup of extra whole milk, salt, and vanilla, then stir until combined. Store in the fridge until thoroughly chilled, preferably overnight.
  5. Freeze the ice cream according to manufacturer’s instructions. Move to a storage container a little at a time, layering in as many cookie pieces as you like in-between layers, packing them down lightly as you go. Freeze overnight, then serve with extra cookies on the side, if you wish. Enjoy 🙂

Eggnog Ice Cream with Candied Pecans and Salted Rum Caramel

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Even though the holidays are without a doubt my most absolute favorite time of year, I also find them to be completely overwhelming.

Do you remember in the movie National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, when a teenage Juliette Lewis is complaining to her mother about having to share a bed with her little brother, because – surprise! – they’ve invited far too many relatives for Christmas and there just wasn’t enough space for everyone?

And then her mom just sort of stares at her with an indifferent expression and states: “Well, I don’t know what to say, other than it’s Christmas and we’re all in misery.”

……

Exactly.

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The cooking, the cleaning, the gift-buying, the incessant pressure to engage in TOGETHERNESS and JOY. It’s just…a lot.

And trust me, I know the true meaning of Christmas isn’t about all the gifts and glitz and blah blah blah. Go ahead and add that sentiment to the list of Additional Holiday Stressors That Also Make Me Feel Extreme Guilt and Shame.

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Judging by the sheer number of “Reduce Holiday Stress” articles that are flooding the interwebs at the moment, I get the feeling I’m not alone.

But if I could take a moment to be selfish and complain for just one or two paragraphs, you know who really gets the raw end of the deal this time of year? Food bloggers.

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The holiday stress of a food blogger is even more deplorable than that of a typical consumer. Ours is a self-imposed, self-important, millennial, bottom-feeding kind of stress, as in, WHAT AM I GOING TO MAKE FOR MY WILDLY POPULAR ICE CREAM BLOG WITH TWENTY FOLLOWERS THAT’S FUN AND DIFFERENT BUT STILL CELEBRATES ALL THE FLAVORS THAT BIG FOOD TELLS ME I SHOULD BE CELEBRATING?!!

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It’s probably painfully obvious by now that I take myself and my blog way too seriously most of the time, but the stress is particularly pronounced around two peak seasons:

  1. Summertime, because I feel like that’s supposed to be MY time, since ice cream is generally considered a summer thing, and everyone expects me to be crazy on top of my game (but I never am).
  2. The holidays – because it’s the perfect time to show people that ice cream can and should be enjoyed all year round. It’s my burden to bear.

Like most things in my life, the blog can sometimes become a painful exercise in over-analyzation, and this time of year is worse than most, because I’m overwhelmed with all the amazing holiday flavors at my disposal.

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While drafting this first “Chistmas-y” post of the year, I’ve been paralyzed with fear – I didn’t want to make a wrong move. After all, I’ve already posted some pretty standard holiday fare, including Peppermint Mocha, Gingerbread, and Christmas Ale.

But what comes next?

For days – weeks even – I pleaded with the Internet food gods, asking them to send me a sign from above.

And then, one day, it appeared to me, like a glorious ray of sunlight on the darkest of stormy days:

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Photo courtesy McDonald’s, obviously.

I’d like to think I’ve been pretty transparent about my unrefined palate. But this takes it to a whole new level. In one of my more embarrassing admissions, I’m going to tell you that I absolutely love eggnog shakes from McDonald’s.

I mean, like, LOVE.

Adore, even.

Want to know what’s even more shameful? I didn’t realize I loved eggnog until I had the fake McDonald’s version, in the form of a really awful milkshake.

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Back in the day, when I was Lindsay Who Still Had Her Youth In Addition To A Reasonably Acceptable BMI, I’d go on eggnog shake binges during Finals week, actually dipping my fries into the shake.

(I know, I KNOW. Trust me, this isn’t an easy story to tell).

Then, as I matured, I progressed from eggnog shakes to store-bought eggnog, and went along in life, blissfully ignorant, until one day I had made-from-scratch eggnog at a friend’s house and it totally changed my life. Like most things homemade, it’s ruined me for more commercialized versions.

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As I was making this ice cream, I questioned why it took me so long to get around to this flavor, since eggnog and ice cream have such similar DNA.

Truthfully, it’s really because my husband doesn’t like eggnog, much to my chagrin. I thought surely this ice cream version of eggnog would change his mind – maybe it was just the texture of typical eggnog that he loathed?

But nope, he hated it.

Even as a creamy, delicious ice cream.

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Spiked with rum.

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Covered in caramel.

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And jam-packed with crunchy candied pecans.

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He even said, and I quote: “This ice cream tastes like poop.”

So, there you have it.

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Me, though? This might be one of my favorite ice creams that I’ve ever made.

I was really concerned about all the eggs in this recipe (note: there’s SEVEN of them). The base seemed pretty thick and flat when I first emptied it into the ice cream maker (and nothing makes me sadder than the thought of bad ice cream).

But lo and behold, it fluffed up into a magical dreamland of nutmeg-kissed dairy. The few tablespoons of rum kept the ice cream nice and soft as it froze (but word to the wise: this takes a really long time to freeze so plan accordingly). The homemade caramel and candied pecans really put this over the top, and helped cut through the richness of the boozy ice cream base.

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I loved this so much, I might just start putting extra eggs and rum in all of my ice cream from now on. Is that excessive?

Do you like eggnog? What’s your favorite way to serve it?

Happy scooping 🙂

Eggnog Ice Cream with Candied Pecans and Salted Rum Caramel

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Print

Yield: 1 Quart

Ingredients:

7 egg yolks

¾ cup sugar

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup whole milk

Large pinch of salt

¼ tsp to ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg, to taste (I went with ½ tsp but I really like nutmeg. A lot).

2 or 3 tablespoons of dark rum (or, to taste)

For the Candied Pecans (this recipe makes about a cup extra for snacking)

½ pound pecans

1/3 cup sugar

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

½ tsp salt

1 egg white

1 tablespoon water

For the Salted Rum Caramel

1.5 cups of sugar

1/2 cup of water

1 cup of heavy cream

2.5 tablespoons of butter (salted or unsalted…i never use unsalted anything, but if you don’t enjoy over salting everything like I do, you might want to go the unsalted route)

Large pinch of salt (or to taste)

1 tsp of good vanilla extract

1 tablespoon of dark rum (or, to taste)

Directions:

  1. In a medium sized bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until all of the yolks are broken and the sugar is well incorporated.
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the milk and salt until it just begins to steam. A little at a time, pour the warmed milk mixture into the yolks, whisking constantly until all of the milk is incorporated. Pour the warmed yolks back into the saucepan, and continue cooking for ten minutes or so, until the mixture thickens into custard (if using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, the custard should stick to the back; when you wipe your finger across, there should be a clear “path” through the custard).
  3. Strain custard through a sieve into a bowl, and add the heavy cream, rum, and nutmeg. Stir until combined. Store in the fridge until thoroughly chilled, preferably overnight.

Make the candied pecans:

  1. Preheat oven to 250°.
  2. In a small bowl, mix sugar, cinnamon, and salt.
  3. In another, larger bowl, whisk the egg white with the water until thick and foamy. Add the pecans, and mix until each pecan is covered with egg white. Then add in the sugar mixture, mixing thoroughly until each pecan is coated.
  4. Spreah on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Bake for one hour, mixing them up every fifteen minutes so that they cook evenly.
  5. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Make the Salted Rum Caramel:

  1. Add the sugar to a medium sized saucepan, then pour water over top; no need to mix together. Texture should be that of wet sand.
  2. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, and let boil until miture reaches a deep amber color and smells amazing.
  3. Remove from heat, and VERY CAREFULLY begin whisking in the heavy cream, just a little at a time. The cool cream will cause a ton of hot steam to rise from the boiling sugar, which can be dangerous.
  4. Once all the cream is incorporated, add the butter and vanilla. Then, start adding the rum and salt. I would start off slowly here with both. I only ended up adding about 1 tablsepoon of rum…but about ten thousand teaspoons of salt. Just kidding… probably two teaspoons (but I love salt).
  5. Let rest on the counter until cooled, then store in the fridge for up to three weeks.

Put it all together:

  1. Freeze the ice cream according to manufacturer’s instructions. Move to a storage container a little at a time, layering in as many pecans and as much caramel as you like between layers. Freeze overnight, then serve with extra caramel and pecans.