So, what do you get when you take a few scoops of the Lee Brothers’ Bourbon Vanilla Ice Cream, swaddle them in a warm ladleful of John Currence’s very bourbony Salted Bourbon-Caramel Sauce and crown them with David Lebovitz’s Buttercrunch Toffee?

Oh, Baby.

It’ll make your toes curl.

Even though it contains an entire cup of bourbon, the Bourbon Vanilla Ice Cream tastes surprisingly wholesome. You could easily take it to a Sunday School picnic, and no one would be the wiser. They would assume it was just a really good vanilla, and it is.

That’s why, if you really want to taste the bourbon, you need the Salted Bourbon-Caramel Sauce. It’s intense, with a punch of bourbon that will jerk you up out of your seat. One thick, rich spoonful might be more than enough for a lot of people.

So, what about the Buttercrunch Toffee? My copy of David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop” arrived while I was making this ice cream, and as soon as I saw the photo of the toffee, it was love. I had already toasted some pecans to sprinkle on the sundae, so I just repurposed them for the toffee. Best. Decision. Ever. I don’t think I’ve ever made anything from a new cookbook that quickly.

If you’d like, you can stir the toffee into your ice cream before tucking it into the freezer, but I kept it in a separate container, so the toffee would be room-temperature. And so Jeff wouldn’t divorce me. He was busy snacking on the toffee while I was waiting for the ice cream.

Note to self: Double batches.

Bourbon Vanilla Ice Cream

Adapted from Matt Lee and Ted Lee’s “The Lee Bros. Simple Fresh Southern”

Makes 1 1/2 pints; Serves 6

  • 1 cup bourbon
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup whole milk

1. Pour the bourbon into a saucepan, and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the sugar and salt. Stir until the sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, and continue to boil until liquid is reduced by one fourth, about 6 minutes.

2. Add vanilla and cream, and heat over medium heat until a candy thermometer reads 150 degrees F, 2 to 3 minutes.

3. In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks, and pour the bourbon cream into the eggs in a thin stream, whisking until the liquids are combined. Return the mixture to the pan, and heat over medium heat, stirring, until the candy thermometer reaches 175 degrees F, 3 to 4 minutes. Add milk. Transfer the ice cream base to a container with a lid, and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.

4. Pour the chilled bourbon custard into an ice cream maker, and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer the ice cream to a container with a tight-fitting lid, and cover the surface of the ice cream with plastic wrap. Put the lid on the container, and freeze until the ice cream has hardened, at least 2 hours. (It will keep for up to 1 month.)

5. Remove the ice cream from the freezer 10 minutes before serving.

Salted Bourbon-Caramel Sauce

Adapted from a recipe by John Currence, published in the NYT (June 14, 2010)

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup bourbon

1. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, water and corn syrup. Bring to a low boil.

2. Gently swirl the mixture in a circular motion (do not stir), and allow it to boil down until it is a deep amber color, at least 10 minutes.

3. Carefully whisk in the cream, protecting your hand from the steam. Immediately whisk in the butter. Stir over low heat until mixture is smooth.

4. Stir in salt and bourbon, and whisk again. Remove from heat and allow to cool before using.

Buttercrunch Toffee

Adapted from David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop”

Makes 2 cups

  • 1 cup almonds, pecans or hazelnuts
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 4 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips or 3 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  1. To Prep the Almonds: Spread the almonds on a baking sheet, and bake them at 350 degrees F for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring them halfway through so they toast evenly. Let them cool, and chop them finely.
  2. Set aside half of the chopped nuts. Place the other half on an ungreased baking sheet, and gather the nuts into an 8-inch circle. Set aside.
  3. In a small saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer, combine the water, butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar over medium heat. (Don’t overstir!) Cook the mixture until it reaches 300 degrees F. Remove the pan from the heat, and stir in the baking soda and vanilla until just combined.
  4. Pour the mixture onto your circle of almonds.
  5. Sprinkle chocolate chips over the toffee, and set aside for 2 minutes while the chocolate melts. Using a spatula, spread the chocolate over the toffee.
  6. Scatter the remaining half of your almonds over the chocolate. Let the toffee cool completely.