1. Dry roast the raw pecan halves over low heat. Cook until pecans halves are starting to become fragrant and just lightly golden. Immediately remove from heat and transfer the pecans into a cool dish. Set aside
2. OPTIONAL: Candy one third of the pecans (may be done while the custard is cooling). To a skillet, add the butter and sweetener; cook over medium heat for a couple of minutes to melt the butter and to caramelize the sweetener. Then, add the pecan pieces and continue cooking on medium heat about 2-4 minutes or until you can smell the candied caramel pecan smell. Turn off the heat and let the caramelized pecans cool a bit. Remove pecans from the pan and transfer to cool platter. Set aside
3. Into a sauce pan, add the heavy cream, almond milk, salt and the 1/2 cup of toasted pecan halves (NOT the optional candied pecans). Cook over medium heat, bringing to a brisk simmer. Once simmering vigorously, cook for an additional 5 minutes. Turn off heat, cover the pan with a lid, and let pecans soak in the milk mixture for 1 – 2 hours. Drain, through a fine mesh sieve, into another container. Discard the soaked pecans because all the flavour has been absorbed into the milk. Reheat the milk to a light simmer
5. When the pecan flavoured cream mixture is at a light simmer, it is ready to temper the whipped egg yolk mixture. Slowly drizzle in about 1 cup of the hot liquid as you whisk continuously. It is very important to whisk rather vigorously to prevent the egg yolks from clumping. Repeat with a second cup of hot liquid. Then pour the remaining hot liquid into the egg bowl. Whisk to combine
6. Once the egg mixture has been tempered, pour everything back into the pot previously used to heat the cream. Place on stovetop, setting medium low, and heat the custard mixture until the mixture reaches 170 F or 80 C. Whisk slowly and continuously. Turn off the heat. Add the sunflower lecithin and finely ground salt. Whisk to incorporate into the custard
7. Pour the hot custard through a fine mesh sieve, set over a clean bowl and positioned in an ice bath. Let the custard mixture cool a bit, then add the vanilla or caramel extract and whisk to combine
8. Continue cooling the custard in the ice bath until it feels cool, or cover bowl with cling wrap and refrigerate, until the custard is about at 40 F or about 5 C. If cooling the custard in the ice bath, whisk from time to time to prevent a skin from forming
9. Pour the custard into a freezer safe container that has an airtight lid. Place a sheet of cling wrap on top of and touching the surface of the ice cream. Seal with the lid and place into the freezer. Freeze the ice cream for about 1 or 2 hours or until starting to form a solid. Remove the ice cream from freezer and whip with a hand mixer or blender to break up the crystals. Pour back into the container, cover with cling wrap and lid and put into the freezer. Freeze for 1 hour and whip or blend the ice cream a second time. Toss in the chopped candied pecans and fold to combine. Pour back into the container and return to the freezer until the ice cream is hard and at the consistency you like. Scoop out and enjoy!
10. Prepare your ice cream maker according to your manufacturer’s directions to ensure the ice cream tub is well chilled. When you have made the ice cream base, start the blade churning and pour into the ice cream maker tub. If there is a hardness setting, set to maximum. Just before ice cream is done, add the chopped candied pecans, churn to combine. When done, the ice cream will be at a soft serve consistency.
11. To form a hard scoop ice cream, transfer the ice cream to a freezer safe container, cover with cling wrap and seal with an air tight lid. Place into the freezer for about 4 hours, or overnight. To serve, take the ice cream out of the freezer, and let stand with the lid off until it is scoopable – about 10 minutes. Scoop out and enjoy!