Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Low Carb “Lite” Butter Pecan

Butter pecan ice cream was my first attempt at low carb ice cream many years ago. The first batch froze like a rock because I didn’t consider the effects a lack of real sugar would have on the recipe. This flavor was very simple to make and extremely satisfying since it’s pecan halves cooked in salted butter with the salty browned butter mixed into a sweet cream base. The only downside is that it’s extremely calorie dense. Now that I have a relatively low calorie, low carb ice cream base to play with, I thought I’d try making a “lite” version of butter pecan.

It’s important to brown the butter rather than just melt it. Browned butter adds nutty, toasted flavors to the ice cream mix. The milk solids (natural lactose sugar, casein and whey proteins) undergo the caramelizing Maillard reaction. Browning butter can be tricky since it burns very easy. It’s best to cook it slowly and watch over it carefully as soon as the browning begins. I bought raw pecan halves and did not roast them prior to cooking them in the butter. If you use roasted pecan halves, it might be a good idea to wait to add them just as the butter is almost finished browning.

I’m cutting back on the heavy cream to keep the calories low, so I’ll give the mix a boost of flavor by adding butter pecan ice cream flavoring. I tried it once before using a full-fat mix with no butter, but the result wasn’t very good. Using it here works much better. I’m doubling the amount of flavoring typically used due to the blunting effect of the whey.


2 cups (484 g) unsweetened almond milk or equivalent
2 tablespoons Truvia
1 level scoop (28 g) unflavored whey protein isolate
1 level scoop (24 g) unflavored micellar casein
28 drops EZ-Sweetz
¼ teaspoon xanthan gum or ½ teaspoon Dixie Diner’s Thick It Up Low Carb Thickener
2 tablespoons (38 g) vegetable glycerin
1 stick (113 g) unsalted butter
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup (99 g) pecan halves
¼ cup (60 g) heavy cream
2 tablespoons LorAnn Oils Flavor Fountain Flavorings, Butter Pecan


  1. Add almond milk, Truvia, EZ-Sweetz, whey, casein, stabilizer, and glycerin to a 8 cup Pyrex measuring cup.

    11.5% fat base.

    Beat with an electric mixer at maximum speed for approximately one minute. Put a strainer on the measuring cup.
  2. Add the butter and salt to a small saucepan and heat on medium low. When the butter is completely melted, add the pecan halves and salt.

    Pecans in butter and salt.

    Periodically stir the mixture until the butter turns a deep brown. Pour the contents of the saucepan into the measuring cup through the strainer.

    Strained pecans.

    Brown butter in mix.

    Mix at high speed to integrate.
  3. Put the salted butter covered pecan halves into an empty ice cream container and put the covered container in the freezer upright.
  4. Add the heavy cream to the mixing cup and beat with electric hand mixer at maximum to ensure it’s integrated, too.
  5. Transfer the mix to a small pot (preferably non-stick) and heat on medium to medium-high while constantly stirring and scraping the bottom of the pot using a heat resistant silicone spatula. Monitor the temperature. When it reaches 161 °F, lower the heat, start a cooking timer, and keep stirring for five more minutes. Do not allow the temperature get much hotter or cooler. Remove pot from the heat source temporarily while stirring, if needed.
  6. Transfer mix back to the 8 cup Pyrex measuring cup and beat with an electric mixer at maximum speed for approximately five minutes. Add the butter pecan flavoring and mix until integrated.
  7. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in a refrigerator for 4-6 hours, but preferably overnight.
  8. Remove from the refrigerator. The mix will be thick and slightly gelatinous. Mix by hand with a silicone spatula or whisk before transferring to the ice cream maker.
  9. Follow your ice cream maker’s directions for making ice cream. Remove from the ice cream maker using a silicone spatula and add some to the container. Add a layer of pecan halves. Repeat until done. Freeze until solid.
Scoops of ice cream.

Scoops of ice cream.

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