1. Dry roast the raw walnut halves over low heat. Cook until walnut halves are starting to become fragrant and just lightly golden. Immediately remove from heat and put walnuts into a cool dish. Set aside
2. OPTIONAL: Candy the walnuts (may be done while the custard is cooling, below): To a skillet, add the butter and sweetener. Cook for a few minutes to melt the sweetener. Then add the walnut halves. Cook on medium heat and bring to a light simmer. Cook for about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the caramelized walnuts cool a bit. Remove walnuts from the caramel mixture when you see crystallization form on the surfaces of the walnut pieces. Place the candied/caramelized walnuts in a single layer on a parchment sheet to cool. Set aside
4. Into a sauce pan, add the heavy cream, almond milk, salt and the 1/2 cup of toasted walnut halves. Stir over medium heat, bring to a simmer and then cook for about 5 minutes. Turn off heat, and let walnuts sit in the milk mixture for 1 – 2 hours. Drain, through a fine mesh sieve, into another container. Discard the walnuts used to flavour the milk. Reheat the milk to temper the egg yolk mixture
5. Temper the whipped egg yolk mixture by slowly drizzling in about 1 cup of the hot cream mixture as you whisk continuously. It is very important to whisk rather vigorously to prevent the egg yolks from clumping due to the heat. Repeat with a second cup of hot liquid. Then pour the remaining hot liquid into the egg bowl. Whisk to combine
8. Remove from heat immediately when the desired temperature is reached and transfer to a clean bowl set in an ice bath. When the custard mixture has cooled, add the maple extract and whisk to combine
9. Cool the custard. Either continue cooling the custard in the ice bath or cover bowl with cling wrap and refrigerate. As the custard is cooling, whisk from time to time. While custard is cooling, roast the walnuts and caramelize if desired
10. Prepare your ice cream maker according to your manufacturer’s directions, making sure the churning pot is chilled properly. Start the machine churning before pouring in the custard and pour the custard into the pot. Select the hardest consistency setting your machine has.
ADVICE for best results: Chill the container you will use to store the ice cream and choose a container that has maximum surface area
12. Transfer the ice cream, which is at soft serve consistency, to the chilled container. Toss to combine the walnuts. Cover and put in the freezer as quickly as possible. Let the ice cream set in the freezer for 3 or more hours – or until the ice cream can be easily scooped, with a bit of resistance as you scoop. Enjoy!