Gluten Free Dairy Free Caramelized Pear Ice Cream with Almond Brittle Recipe
I love pears. I am positively crazy for the fresh, clean taste, the juicy, tender texture and the luscious sweetness.
It is not quite pear season which, oddly enough, is why I bought a half a dozen or so recently. See, in my mind, nothing makes a house feel more like a home than bowls of fresh fruit on the kitchen counter or dining room table. And, as it is not pear season, I figured I would get a lot of bang out of my decorating buck by buying a fruit I figured would not really ripen any time soon.
So imagine my surprise and delight when I went to dust the dining room table and caught the unmistakable scent of ripe pears wafting through the air.
While I can certainly polish off a pear or two a day eaten out of hand, I figured I should celebrate a little and make a dessert but considering how the temperatures here in Western Florida are ranging right around hotter than Hades, my typical choice of a crumble or tart was just not quite the right choice. Nope, it is definitely ice cream weather.
Considering that my lactose intolerant, coconut milk hating g-kid is in tow, I figured I should make a dairy free ice cream to avoid hurt feelings. So I thought how about almond milk? The more I thought about it the more I warmed to the idea (and it is not just because it is 95 degrees and a bazillion percent humidity). After all, pears and almonds are a classic flavor combination. And I am no Alton Brown, but given the fact that pears are high in pectin, I figured they would add some thickness and creaminess to the ice cream and make up for the somewhat watery consistency of the almond milk.
I took my plan for a light, dairy-free pear ice cream one step further. Instead of using sugar I opted for agave nectar. While I am a lot more indulgent with my g-kids than I was with my children, even I have learned to do everything possible to ward off the highs and lows created by the spike (and subsequent drop!) of regular sugar. And while I was at it, why not caramelize that agave for some depth of flavor?
May I just say – genius! This may just be one of my new favorite ways to enjoy pears.
Once the kiddos were safely out of sight, I took the whole almond/pear thing one more step and made a quick almond brittle to garnish and glam up the adult portions. Super genius!
The ice cream is really creamy straight form the ice cream maker and gets a little bit more of an ice milk type texture as it cures. A little dash of alcohol will handle that if you prefer a creamier, less grainy texture. Personally, I liked the texture without but then I like the texture of ice milk.
- 3 ripe pears
- ¾ cup light agave nectar
- 1 pinch salt
- 2 cups unsweetened original almond milk
- Juice of ¼ lemon
- 2 teaspoons pear liqueur or vodka - optional
- 1½ cups sliced almonds
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup water
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
Peel, core and dice the pears into ¼-inch pieces. Set aside.
In a large, heavy saucepan, bring the agave and salt to a slow boil over medium heat and continue to cook until it turns a light amber color and has thickened slightly (245 degrees on a candy thermometer). Stir in the pears carefully; the mixture will seize and bubble up. Continue to cook for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and carefully stir in about ½ cup of the almond milk. Stir in the remaining almond milk, the lemon juice and the pear liqueur or vodka if using. Allow to cool to room temperature.
Working in two batches, blend the cooled pears and milk mixture in a blender for 1 minute. Strain through a strainer and chill until cold; several hours in the refrigerator or about ½ hour in the freezer. Process the mixture in an ice cream maker for about 25 minutes or according to your manufacturer’s instructions. Can be eaten as is or “cured” in the freezer for a few hours.
Store covered in the freezer for up to a week.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or with a Silpat mat.
On a separate baking sheet, spread the almonds in a single layer and cook for 10 minutes or until warm and fragrant. While the almonds are toasting, make the syrup.
In a large, heavy saucepan, stir the sugar, water, and salt together to combine. Cook over medium heat until the mixture comes to a boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Once the mixture has come to a boil, do not stir it any longer. Continue to cook for about 5 minutes or until the mixture turns a light amber color, swirling the pan occasionally to ensure even coloring. Remove from the heat and stir in the warm almonds, making sure the almonds are coated evenly with the sugar mixture.
Working quickly and carefully (the mixture is screaming hot!) spread the almond mixture into an even layer on the prepared sheet pan. Let cool until hard, about ½ an hour. Break into pieces.
Store covered at room temperature for up to a week.
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