Caramelized Apple and Butter Pecan Ice Cream Sundaes

Don’t be fooled by a sundae’s simplicity. It is a magnificent dessert. A sundae may be only ice cream covered with sundry sauces and garnishes, but the variations are endless. In this refined interpretation of the traditional favorite. I coat apple pieces with sugar, bake them until they caramelize, and layer them with butter pecan ice cream and an apple sauce.

Ingredients

Butter Pecan Ice Cream

  • 4 large egg yolks
  • ¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 4 ounces (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • cups milk
  • cups heavy (whipping) cream
  • 1 cup ( ounces) pecan halves, halved lengthwise and toasted

Apple Sauce

  • cups apple juice
  • 6 tablespoons granulated sugar

Caramelized Apples

  • 3 red-skinned apples, preferably Braeburn, Gala, or Fuji
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar

Method

To Make the Ice Cream

Whisk the egg yolks, brown sugar, and ¼ cup of the granulated sugar together until smooth in a medium bowl. Cook the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat until light brown in color. Strain and slowly whisk it into the egg yolks.

Cook the remaining ½ cup granulated sugar, the milk, and cream in another heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until almost simmering. Slowly pour the cream mixture into the eggs, whisking as you pour. Return the mixture to the saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a heat-resistant plastic or wooden spatula, until the custard reaches 175°F and lightly coats the spatula.

Strain the custard into a clean bowl and cool over an ice bath until room temperature. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to overnight. Churn in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Stir in the pecans. Freeze the ice cream until scoopable, about 4 hours, depending on your freezer.

To Make the Sauce

Stir together the apple juice and sugar in a heavy saucepan. Cook over medium heat until reduced to just under 1 cup. Let cool, then cover and refrigerate until cold.

To Make the Apples

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Put a baking pan in the oven. Peel the apples, cut them in half, and remove the core. Cut the apples into 1-inch pieces. Mix them in a bowl with the sugar. Remove the pan from the oven and spread the apples on the pan in a single layer. Return the pan to the oven and cook the apples, gently mixing with a metal spatula after 10 minutes and then every 5 minutes, until caramelized, about 25 minutes. As you stir the apples, coat them with the liquid in the pan.

In Advance

The apple sauce can be made up to 1 week in advance. The apples are best made and served the same day. If you are not going to serve the apples right after you bake them, leave them on the pan and store at room temperature. Reheat in a preheated 350°F oven for 5 minutes.

To Assemble the Sundaes

Scoop some butter pecan ice cream into 6 bowls. Spoon some sauce over the ice cream. Top with more ice cream and then warm apples. Pour more sauce over the top of the sundae. Serve immediately.

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