At FRANK recently, we did an Americana menu, and needed to conceive an ice cream to go with our bourbon pecan pie. Chef Jennie suggested a sweet potato ice cream, but that just sounded too sweet to me. After all, pecan pie is very sweet, and to pair it with a super-sweet ice cream would just be TOO sweet. That’s when I came up with the idea of using buttermilk as the base, rather than milk and cream. Buttermilk is thick and rich, just like cream, but very tart. So that acidity would help counterbalance the sweetness of the potatoes. It turned out incredible, our diners went nuts for it, and it’s Jennie’s second favorite ice cream I’ve ever made.
This recipe highlights just another of buttermilk’s incredible properties. It’s probably my single favorite ingredient in the kitchen. And you can make it yourself! Check out my blog on the wonders of buttermilk if you’re not familiar with this extraordinary ingredient. You’ll start keeping it in your kitchen all the time.
This recipe yields 2 quarts of ice cream, so adjust accordingly for your ice cream maker.
Into your blender (and you may have to do this in batches depending on your blender’s capacity), add:
4 cups buttermilk (any kind, I use the full fat Bulgarian buttermilk, but low fat is also just fine)
2 cups sweet potato puree (you can use canned, or make your own by roasting, boiling, or microwaving sweet potatoes until tender, and then puree in the blender)
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup corn syrup (this is necessary to ensure a smooth texture in your ice cream…the glucose prevents big ice crystals from forming and improves the texture, but if you hate corn syrup, sub honey)
6 egg yolks (Yes, I use raw. If you’re cooking for children or the elderly or those with compromised immune systems, get pasteurized eggs at the grocery store)
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 Tbsp vanilla
Blend until everything is smooth and well combined and all the sugar is dissolved. Then pour into your ice cream freezer and freeze it!
This ice cream comes out a gorgeous deep orange color, is thick and rich, but surprisingly low in fat compared to other ice creams…all thanks to buttermilk and the lack of heavy cream! To make this recipe vegan, just leave out the eggs, and use coconut milk in place of buttermilk, and add the juice of 1 lemon. It won’t be as thick or rich, but it’ll still be yummy!