life’s candy and the sun’s a ball of butter

Is this a second post in a row featuring that bewitching golden distillation that is burnt butter? Affirmative. Is this some kind of salute to butter month that everyone has missed? Noooo…but then every day is Salute to Butter Month…day…when I’m around.
And yes, it is Burnt Butter Ice Cream. Snap Judge Ye Not! I’ve come to learn that some of my opinions are not the generally held ones (did you know I hated The Shawshank Redemption? And all the sports there are? Apart from watching Olympic gymnastics and figure skating with hands clamped over my eyes because I was scared they’d fall over?) and so I suspect that while I think butter-flavoured ice cream is something I quite casually make and see as normal, others might be horrified and pearl-clutching about. Let me straighten the record: butter flavoured ice cream is wonderful. Really, genuinely, hand-it-to-you-on-a-plate, unthreateningly delicious. Why, it’s as real as you and me. 

It is in fact very normal tasting ice cream. Almost bordering-on-disappointingly normal for someone like me, but for the less liberally buttery of you, perhaps a relief. The intensity is muffled somewhat once frozen. What you get this roundly rich, deeply creamy golden ice cream which gives you vividly toffeed caramel flavours and a lingering buttery nuttiness. It just tastes like amazing ice cream.

Be assured, it’s not like dragging a spoon across a cold block of butter. Nice as that is.

Be further assured, you don’t need an ice cream maker machine thing for this. I don’t have one myself, and my love for ice cream is way too river deep, mountain high for me to want to make it all exclusive or anything. All you have to do to this is freeze it.

It’s a while since I’ve made an old-timey custard-based ice cream. Custard ice cream is the patient person’s game. This is probably why I’ve avoided it for a while. But all that’s involved is a lot of stirring. As En Vogue said, don’t let go – just stand there by the pan stirring and stirring till the mixture finally rewards you by ambiguously thickening slightly. I for one recommend putting on a podcast (like mine, way-hey?) or an audiobook (I had Wuthering Heights) to distract the mind.

Burnt Butter Ice Cream

A recipe by myself.

I did dither over whether to call this browned butter, or just butter, but I like the total un-vagueness of ‘burnt’, because that’s what it is.  

50g butter
2 cups cream
1 cup milk
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
(Note: New Zealand butter is always salted – if you’re using unsalted, add a generous pinch of salt when you add the butter at the end)

First, gather ye a saucepan, a good-sized bowl, and a freezer-proof container (as you can see I just used a glass loaf tin. The kind you might bake a loaf in.) Melt the butter over a decent heat in the saucepan, allowing it to carry on cooking beyond your usual sensibilities. As you can see above, it will start bubbling vigorously and separate out into layers of sorts. Once it’s all foamy and bubbly and darkened remove it from the heat and spatula it into a bowl while you get on with everything else.

In that same pan, gently heat up the milk and cream. While this is happening whisk together the yolks and sugars, it doesn’t have to be thick, just incorporated. Once the milk/cream has heated sufficiently – you don’t want it to boil, just get very hot – turn off the heat and carefully whisk about 1/2 a cup of the milk/cream into the egg/sugar mixture, then another 1/2 cup and another – continually whisking so you don’t end up with scrambled eggs.

Then pour all that back into the pan and stir over a low heat, stirring constantly so it doesn’t cook too fast. I warn you, this could take around 20 minutes. The texture will thicken to that of a good quality milkshake (if not thickshake) and the bubbles on the surface should minimise. The more egg yolks in your custard the thicker it will get so don’t stress too much about it.

Finally, whisk in the butter, which will likely have solidified by this point. Pour everything into your freezerproof container and freeze, without stirring, till it is, unsurprisingly, frozen.

Luckily this ice cream is air-punchingly awesome, because I have been seriously lacking in lustre while writing about it. I am tired. The week started mighty promisingly – seeing the movie version of the Broadway show Rock of Ages with my dear friend Kim, and the subsequent marveling over how disturbingly HAWT Tom Cruise was in it and how much we love Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand’s characters and how excellent Mary J Blige’s pantsuits are. And how I am ever more in hot pursuit of bigger hair. But since then I haven’t slept so well, a good wedge of my brain has been given over to working out details of my upcoming cookbook (obligatory mention!) and financial concerns, general stresses and what’s-the-deal-with-my-body annoyances (I mean like, not feeling well, nothing else) and I’ve been catching feelings like you wouldn’t believe.

On the up-and-up, there are Tony Award clips to watch, photos from Jo’s Double Super Sweet Sixteenth birthday party and memories of intense bedroom dance parties therein to reminisce over, our October trip to America to plan, a new podcast episode to edit, and this ice cream to eat. Just got to get through June…and everything will be cool.

While I’m generally a bit suspish of over-dressed food photography, I have no defensiveness for this. I’d held onto the jaunty flag decorations from the quadruple layer birthday cake my friends made me for me a few months ago and this one seemed just right plunged possessively on an angle into the ice cream. Also a long-distance hug to my god-parents and their family for the equally jaunty ice cream cups. All the better to eat ice cream out of, hey?

Title via: Don’t Rain on My Parade, from Funny Girl. Here’s an effortless version from the sadly late Donna Summer. My very favourite person, Idina Menzel, singing it for Streisand herself at a concert with an adorable shoutout halfway through. And this incredible rendition by Lillias White from a 2002 benefit.


Music lately:

Rockin Back Inside My Heart, a cover by She’s So Rad. As I’ve said constantly, I’m very obsessed with Julee Cruise’s song, but this cover is glorious – the voice is more present and definite than Cruise’s, without losing a shred of the song’s deliciously dreamy nature.

Fiona Apple Every Single Night. I love this song. Beautiful. Watched the first frame of the music video and decided it wasn’t for me though (spoiler: there’s an octopus! I like my octopi at a distance!)
Next time: I promise, something non-buttery. I am super aware of how painfully expensive it is. I’m just slightly more super aware of how delicious it is.

20 thoughts on “life’s candy and the sun’s a ball of butter

  1. Marion says:

    Er, do you mind me asking, is that a layer of frozen butter on top of the icecream?
    Cos that would be too much, even for a butter lover like me who loves to see my teethmarks in the butter on my toast – on my icecream, not so much!


  2. Mirabel says:

    The macaron shop I work in sells salted butter macarons and they are the all time, hands down – then throw them in the air like you just don't care, favourites. People go nuts for them.
    I'm gonna eat this recipe.


  3. Hannah says:

    Even though I know you didn't mean it like this, I can't resist stating that “intense bedroom dance parties” IS THE BEST EUPHEMISM EVER.

    I'm adding “New Zealand butter is always salted” to the little corner of my brain reserved for Trivia Night Knowledge. Also, I hope your body calms down. I've been sick for most of this year, it seems like, and it is mucho frustrating to not quite feel 100% without quite knowing why.

    I hope many of the caught feelings have been happy feelings. You deserve that. And you also deserve for me to stop talking now.



  4. Emma says:

    Ooh, I like the Rockin Back Inside my Heart cover. Although it loses much of the creep factor, no?

    I'm so excited for Olympics gymnastics! …now I just have to figure out how to watch it. We don't get the channel that broadcasts it way up in middle of nowhere here.

    I hope you and your body annoyances feel better soon:/


  5. Rebecca says:

    Hi Laura, I want to love the sound of burnt butter ice-cream – I really do – but alas I am sick, sick, sick with some ghastly virus and so is my little boy, so food has become a bit of an enemy for us, waaaah! I must re-visit this post in the (hopefully!) not too distant future when we are not feeling so green. Sorry to hear you are not feeling great either – damn these winter bugs. Take care hon, Becks x


  6. Zo @ Two Spoons says:

    Oh sweet mother of food blogging, I just had a taste of the still-hot custard and almost peed my pants. I did sneak in a lot of vanilla too, but the heady caramellyness of the brown butter is something spectacular. THANK YOU for posting a stellar ice cream recipe that doesn't require stirring. Let the building of my winter fat coat begin…

    Also I thought mainland did unsalted butter?! Please don't tell me they've stopped making it, Aussie doesn't really do unsalted butter (unless you get imported stuff) so I had added it to my list of things to gorge on when I visit 😛


  7. Kay says:

    You can buy unsalted butter – labelled as such, usually crouched apologetically beside the more aggressively displayed salted butter.

    New Zealand butter-buyers – be aware!: Always check the ingredients on the butter wrapper. Some brands of butter add milk or water in their ingredients, but there ARE some brands listing only cream and salt. I have stopped using price as the only guide to my butter selection now.


  8. hungryandfrozen says:

    Marion, fear not – it's just the effect the freezing has on the colour, it's all the same stuff the whole way through. Glad to hear you're a teethmarks-deep kinda person when it comes to buttered toast, because I am too *fistbump*


  9. Christina says:

    I like your spoon. Silver is quite easy to flatten with a hammer. And bend. Or stamp with metal punches and make into herb markers. If you like remaking your cutlery…

    I agree with Zo – doesn't mainland do unsalted? And it goes on special HEAPS.. I remember that anyway. Butter is about a million dollars up here in the middle of the arctic. But when I get my hands on it – I make icecream!


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