This all started with a chance encounter at a friend’s graduation party. Jack is said friend’s best drinking buddy, and it was inevitable that “he” would make an appearance. I, on the other hand, am not generally a fan, generally thinking that Jack Daniels tastes like yicky and disappointing paint thinner. Enter Jack’s sexy, swingy new cousin: Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey (or Honey Jack).
Honey Jack is a smooth talker. So smooth in fact, that this alcohol taste hating girl did shots without attempting to hide under the table and/or talk her way out of subsequent rounds. I took mini shots to be fair, but shots nonetheless. Shots with no chaser or fear of immediate impending death from the taste. This is (?)progress(?).
While sitting in my little chair, enjoying the crazy good potluck buffet and company of my graduate girl and the other people in her life, I hatched a diabolical idea. Honey Jack ice cream. Had to be fabulous. Must be 1st ice cream on menu for summer eating.
This singular obsession took up much of my Jack-addled attention span for the remainder of the party – egg base or yogurt? Lactose light or go for the gusto? Gelato? To Caramel Or Not To Caramel… that is the question.
The Internets came up with a fabulous template for my idea. Over at Ezra Poundcake, a Mad Men-inspired ice creamy dream, Bourbon Vanilla Ice Cream with Salted Bourbon-Caramel Sauce and Buttercrunch Toffee looked beyond drool-worthy. I’m too uncoordinated (read: lazy) to accomplish ice cream, caramel sauce and toffee at the same time for a simple summer (non fete) treat, so I just stuck with a lighter in lactose version of the ice cream. And then, because well enough should never be left alone, served it in a deliciously adult root beer float.
A note about the ice cream: The way I made it creates a boozy dessert with a nice texture (not quite as creamy as knockout rich full-lactose cream but not as ice shard-y as some “alternative milk” varieties). This ice cream was light enough that I didn’t almost die from lactose-induced bloat. I cut back on the sugar content because I always cut back on the sugar content, and this dessert was perfectly sweet to me. My DH wanted a bit more sugar (and in all fairness, the root beer float was his idea). In the float, he said it was perfect. Out of the float, he would have liked the aforementioned caramel sauce. If one of your party isn’t a freak about sugar and in love with savory desserts, go for the float. Or the caramel. I’m dying to have the graduate over so I have to make the caramel (I’m thinking dulce de leche-style creamed caramel with pecan brittle – ‘cuz what’s more Southern than bourbon & pecans?).
Not much to look at, but damn it’s good
Honey Jack Ice Cream
1 cup Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey
1/4 cup sugar (I used white sugar, but a brown sugar would probably be killer here. Maybe even honey)
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1 generous cap-and-a-half vanilla extract (the best quality you can get – I prefer using extract here rather than whole beans)
2 cups heavy cream (I used the “real” stuff here)
1 cup Silk soy milk (unflavored)
4 large egg yolks
Bring the bourbon to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Once your bourbon hits the boil, add the sugar and salt. Stir until the sugar dissolves (about 2 minutes). Kick the heat back to medium and let go another 2 minutes while you get your next steps ready. The original recipes calls for reducing the mixture by a fourth, but I wanted a more sharp boozy taste, so I kept the boiling to a minimum.
Add the vanilla and cream and heat until a candy thermometer reads 150 degrees F (about 2-3 minutes).
While that is coming together, add your egg yolks to a large bowl and grab your whisk. Start beating the yolks. When your bourbon cream is at the proper temperature, pour into the egg mixture in a thin stream, whisking like a madwoman (or man) to incorporate enough cool air into the mix so the eggs don’t cook. Continue until the liquids are fully combined.
Add the soy milk and transfer to a bowl with a lid (or the bowl you already dirtied with a plastic wrap cover) and refrigerate at least 4 hours until thoroughly chilled. I let mine go for a full 24 hours because I made the base instead of concentrating on making dinner one night.
After everything is good and chilled, make your ice cream like usual. I use a Kitchenaid stand mixer with ice cream attachment (don’t forget to freeze your bowl overnight!).
If your ice cream comes out like mine did, it will be a little on the soft side at first. Mine took a good overnight freezing to set and never got rock-hard. My DH thinks I might not have whipped it long enough, but I think it tasted just fine, and that is all that matters.
Makes enough for 2 nice-sized summer night ice cream bowls and 3 generous root beer floats.