Peaches and bourbon are two classic Southern ingredients that pair exceptionally well together. You’ll see them in everything from barbecue sauces to cocktails to desserts. The rich sweetness of fresh, ripe peaches is a good match for the oaky, vanilla flavor that is prominent in many bourbons, so any dish that has both flavors is bound to be complex, with a great depth of flavor. This Caramelized Bourbon Peach Ice Cream is no exception. It’s a delicious way to enjoy both of these ingredients and to make good use of ripe peaches when they are in season.
This ice cream starts with fresh peaches, which are cooked in brown sugar until they are tender and caramelized. During cooking, the peaches give off quite a bit of juice, which blends with the sugar and becomes concentrated. To this mixture, I added a generous measure of bourbon and a splash of vanilla extract. I let the mixture cool, then pureed it and combined it with milk and heavy cream to make the ice cream base. I also added another measure of bourbon at this point, to ensure that its flavor wasn’t lost behind the sweet peaches. The finished ice cream was incredibly flavorful and creamy. Alcohol (in general, not just bourbon) helps to lower the freezing point of ice cream, meaning that this ice cream has a very scoopable-texture even after it has been frozen. It has a great flavor of peaches, balanced with just the right amount of brown sugar and bourbon.
My ice cream is fairly smooth and only has a few very small bits of peach in it. This gives the ice cream a very uniform texture, which I happen to like. If you prefer a chunkier ice cream with more pieces of fruit in it, reserve a small amount of your caramelized peaches and chop them up by hand, then stir them into the ice cream after it churns. Ice cream makers generally don’t do well with large chunks of fruit in them, so adding some of the peaches back at the end is the best way to get those chunks into your finished ice cream. Serve this as-is, or put a big scoop on top of a peach pie or peach cobbler for a perfectly peachy dessert.
Caramelized Bourbon Peach Ice Cream
10-12 ounces sliced peaches (3 medium peaches) peeled
2/3 cup brown sugar
3-oz bourbon, divided
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
In a large skillet, combine peach slices and brown sugar. Cook over medium heat until the peaches start to give off their juices and the brown sugar begins to bubble. Turn heat up to medium-high and cook until peaches are tender, about 4-5 minutes. Carefully pour in 2 ounces of bourbon and the vanilla extract. Cook, stirring with a spatula, for one additional minute. Remove from the heat and allow mixture to cool to room temperature.
In a food processor or blender, puree the peach mixture. Combine puree with remaining 1 ounce of bourbon, milk and heavy cream.Chill in the refrigerator until cold, about 2-3 hours (mixture may separate slightly in the fridge, just give it a stir to recombine).
When ice cream base is cold, pour into your ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturers’ directions.
Transfer ice cream into a freezer-safe container and freeze until firm, about 3-4 hours.
Makes about 1 quart.