It's been much too long without a post, don't you think?

My favorite order at Fenton's is a "junior" Black & Tan - ever since I discovered ice cream could taste like a bear claw! The recipe I started with seemed reasonable (delicious vanilla base), but all that made it "Toasted Almond" was . . . well, toasted almonds. One cannot rely on the extra bits for fundamental flavor. No. So the trick to toasted almond ice cream is to replace the sugar with almond paste!
Yup! Almond paste is just ground-up almonds and sugar. It also has a carbon footprint of a jet-setting yeti. It also costs as much. Look at that. My almonds have traveled from my home state to Denmark and back.

However, while it's possible to make your own, I was concerned about maintaining the correct texture for ice cream, and industrial-ground pastes tend to have much more uniform textures than home-ground, so storebought it was!
And the almonds? The almonds came from a giant box of one-ounce freebies at the office. I let the box sit there all day, then stuffed a pound and a half of samples into a Ziploc bag and scurried home like a paranoid squirrel.

The trick with the almonds, according to my beta-tasters, are to start with slivers or chop them up much smaller (and use less of them) than I had. The constant crunch overpowered the creamy ice creamI tend to overdo the extras, because I always feel storebought ice cream gyps you (unless it's Ben & Jerry's. All hail Ben & Jerry's!)
Makes: 1.5 quarts
Time: Custard prep 20 min :: Chill time 90 min :: Almonds 10 min
Prep: Rest bowl in ice bath. Put small metal pan in freezer.

{1} Make the custard.

Adapted from America's Test Kitchen's vanilla recipe.
Melt 3 ounces almond paste in saucepan. Slowly and vigerously stir in 1.25 cups  whole milk and 1.5 cups cream. Heat until mixture steams and registers 175 degrees F. Remove from heat.

In separate bowl, whisk together 4 egg yolks and 3 ounces almond paste. Slowly stir in about one cup of cream mixture.

Stir egg mixture into cream mixture. Return to heat and stir constantly until mixture registers 180 degrees F. 

Immediately strain into bowl resting in ice bath. Grind any remaining almond past chunks through the strainer. Stir until mixture is cool; chill in refrigerator. Immediately before freezing, stir in one teaspoon vanilla.  

{2} Toast the Almonds.

The trick to toasting almonds (and pecans and walnuts and coconut and anything) is to let them get nice and toasty without letting them burn!

Now, not knowing what toasted almonds look or taste like (aside from delicious ice cream), I thankfully had Katie and Cathryn as official Q.C. agents. If their hulls start looking smoky, stop! They might already be too far gone. I should have taken a picture of an untoasted v. toasted cross section, but I didn't think about it. Next time.

Anyway, we found that 1 cup of whole almonds toasted about 7 minutes at 350 degrees worked well. (As a note, the official tasters suggested starting with splintered almonds or chopping the almonds finely.)

{3} Ice the cream.

Remember to add the vanilla to the chilled custard right before you pour it into the ice cream freezer. Chop up those toasted almonds to chocolate-chip sizes and toss them in 3-5 minutes before the freezer finishes churning. Spoon into prepared flat metal pan; freeze 1 hour. Scrape into containers, freeze overnight, and enjoy!

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