It all started with rum raisin ice cream. A few weeks ago, I learned that rum raisin is a popular ice cream flavor in Japan, and because I found this to be an interesting fact, I’ve been thinking about this ever since. Having never tried rum raisin ice cream before, nor seen it at the grocery store or ice cream counter, I was intrigued. I decided it was a flavor from another era, because when I did ask some folks about it, they said, “Oh yeah! Rum raisin ice cream!” like they were recalling a fond memory from long ago. If rum raisin was something familiar, and yet, something that hadn’t been around in a while, I was bringing it back.
From my internet sleuthing, I found that Häagen–Dazs currently makes a rum raisin ice cream, but since I really wanted to sample the rum raisin flavor and not be distracted by the richness that all Häagen–Dazs flavors seem to take on, I decided I should try making it myself, getting the ice cream maker out of a long winter hibernation.
I began by getting my vanilla ice cream started, since I knew that’s what I’d be adding my rum-soaked raisins to. Since I was using the Madagascar bourbon vanilla beans for the first time instead of the vanilla extract, I cut off small pieces of the bean and scraped out the inside seeds little at the time, since I wasn’t sure how intense the “real” vanilla bean flavor would be. When I had used about half of the vanilla bean, I was satisfied with the vanilla flavor, and proceeded to follow the ice cream maker’s directions for freezing the ice cream.
I then got out my raisins to begin their soak in rum, but finding no rum at home and with no desire to return to the store, I decided to use some honey whiskey we had. I figured the sweet honey flavor would be a good replacement for the sweetness of the rum, and poured the alcohol over the raisins to begin their soak.
Then my mind got to thinking. I remembered the “Secret Breakfast” ice cream I’d tasted at San Francisco’s Humphry Slocombe ice cream parlor (Bourbon ice cream and corn flakes) and wanted to make my own alcohol-flavored ice cream, with its own nod to breakfast cereal.
After adding my whiskey-soaked raisins to my vanilla bean ice cream, I crumbled up a Nature Valley “Oats N’ Honey” granola bar into the ice cream, adding a bit of crunch to the creamy blend. I took a taste right away, even though I usually like to allow the ice cream to harden with additional time in the freezer. Honey whiskey and honey granola were a match that agreed with me.
When I heard the next Taste Fresno TasteBuds gathering would be a potluck with the theme of “breakfast for dinner,” I knew my own breakfast-inspired ice cream would be my contribution.
For the potluck batch, I allowed the raisins a longer soak in the alcohol, and after 8 hours, they had absorbed most of the liquid, becoming plump with whiskey. I also used ready-made granola instead of a granola bar this time, though if I was really serious, I might have made my own. As I always seem to be short on ingredients and too lazy to return to the store, my cream-to-milk ratio was a little low for this batch, making for a less creamy texture because my ice cream didn’t have enough fat in it (the proper ratio of cream to milk is listed in the recipe below). But, I forged ahead anyway, hoping the honey flavor, whiskey-soaked raisins, Madagascar vanilla beans, and crunchy granola would distract from the less-than-ideal texture.
Though it’s no rocky road (the favorite ice cream flavor in our household), I felt satisfied with the creation of this new ice cream flavor. Besides, with so many essential food groups thrown into the mix, Whiskey Raisin Crunch just might be the most important meal of the day.
Whiskey Raisin Crunch
- 1 cup raisins
- ½ cup honey whiskey
- 1 cup whole milk, well chilled
- ½ cup sugar
- Seeds from ½ vanilla bean, or to taste
- 2 cups heavy cream, well chilled
- 2/3 cup granola, plus additional for garnish
- Place raisins in a small bowl and pour in the whiskey (I used Seagram’s 7 Dark Honey). Allow to soak for about 8 hours, all day or overnight, stirring occasionally.
- After the raisins have soaked for about 8 hours and absorbed most of the alcohol, begin making the ice cream.
- Combine sugar with whole milk in an electric mixer and stir on a medium speed for 1 minute. Scrape out the vanilla bean seeds with a knife and add to the mixture, along with the heavy cream, stirring until combined.
- Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s directions (about 30 minutes)
- During the last 5 minutes in the ice cream maker, add the raisins (pour entire bowl, including any remaining whiskey) into the machine, and the 2/3 cup granola (I used Fresh & Easy’s Classic Granola).
- Freeze at least 2-3 hours to allow ice cream to harden.
- Option: garnish with additional granola pieces when serving.