When I read about President Reagan's designation I decided to do a little researching and learned that ice cream was popular with many of the nation's presidents. It is noted that in the summer of 1790 President George Washington spent $200 for ice cream. In 1813, at President James Madison's second inaugural banquet Dolly served a strawberry ice cream creation to guests.
President Thomas Jefferson's handwritten recipe for Ice Cream is among the many recipes at the Library of Congress.
As I tried to decipher his recipe I noticed that it is only a mixture of three ingredients: cream, sugar and egg yolks. I don't find a reference for the addition of vanilla.
Those three ingredients are the primary players in today's Date, Rum and Pecan Ice Cream. I had an opportunity to sample a date shake recently and the wonderful flavor was fresh in my mind when I saw a recipe in The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz for Date, Rum and Pecan Ice Cream. I have had great success with David's recipes so, why not give it a try? Yum!
I went to California Fruit Depot a local fruit and nut stand to get some dates. There were so many varieties available that I had no idea which would be the best in ice cream. It was recommended that I use the "crown jewel of dates", the medjool dates. They are larger than most varieties, have more meat and are sweeter. I also learned that dates are to be stored in the freezer and that freezing them makes it easier to pit them. They do not freeze solid due to the sugar content...they were lovely when I pulled from the freezer....delicious, too.
Date, Rum, and Pecan Ice Cream
adapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz
Yield: about 1 1/4 quarts
12 dates (4 ounces, 115 g) pitted
1/4 cup (60 ml) dark rum (I used Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum)
1 cup (250 ml) whole milk
2/3 cup (130 g) sugar
Big pinch of salt
1 1/4 cups (310 ml) heavy cream
6 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons dark rum (I used Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum)
1 cup Pecans, toasted
To prepare the dates, chop them into 1/2 -inch pieces. Combine the date pieces with the rum in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir. Cover and let macerate at room temperature for at least 4 hours (this can be done up to 1 day ahead).
To make the ice cream, warm the milk, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. Pour the cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top.
In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warm egg yolks back into the saucepan.
Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. Mix in the vanilla and rum, then stir until cool over an ice bath.
Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. During the last few minutes of churning, add the nuts and date pieces.
I don't know how to describe the ice cream...it was smooth, sweet, and delicious! The rum didn't over-power the dessert. It couldn't have been better. We shared with our neighbors and they agreed....delicious!