Cinnamon Vanilla Ice Cream with Maple-Pecan Fudge Core

Recipe and photo contributed by Tami Ganeles Weiser Yield:  10 servings (about 5 cups total)
Prep Time:  30 minutes Cook Time:  1 hour

Cinnamon Vanilla Ice Cream with Maple-Pecan Fudge Core

There’s a surprise inside this yummy homemade cinnamon vanilla ice cream—a core of maple-pecan fudge! It’s a Ben & Jerry’s-style core, made at home. Be sure to allow enough time for the ice cream base to chill thoroughly.



Nonstick vegetable oil spray

1½ cups maple syrup, preferably Grade B

¾ cup dark brown sugar

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

½ cup heavy cream, at room temperature

8 ounces cream cheese

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1 vanilla bean, slit lengthwise, seeds scraped and reserved

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup (250 grams) toasted pecans, roughly chopped

Ice Cream:

2 cinnamon sticks

1½ cups heavy cream

1 cup whole milk

2 vanilla beans, split and scraped, pod and seeds reserved

5 large egg yolks

1 cup (215 grams) light brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, preferably roasted


  1. Make the fudge filling: Spray a 9- by 9-inch pan with nonstick vegetable oil spray. Line it with two sheets of parchment paper, with a 1-inch overhang on each side. Set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat the maple syrup, sugar, and butter and cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until it boils actively.
  3. Add the cream and cream cheese, stir, and cook until a candy thermometer inserted into the mixture reads 235° F. (The temperature will continue to rise after you pull it off the heat and should get to 238° F—see Kitchen Tip.) It should take about 15 to 17 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand for 15 to 20 minutes undisturbed. It will still be quite warm to the touch, but it won’t be super-hot (between 110° and 130°F).
  4. Using a handheld electric mixer or a whisk, beat for 2 to 3 minutes, until the mixture loses its sheen.
  5. Stir in the salt, vanilla seeds, and cinnamon and pour through a fine-mesh sieve, stirring and pressing against the edges of the mesh, onto the prepared baking sheet. Mix in the toasted pecans so they are evenly distributed. The mixture will be thick and sticky, so it will take 3 to 4 minutes. Distribute the mixture on the baking sheet as evenly as you can and then let cool completely. The fudge will keep in a closed container, refrigerated, for 2 to 3 days.
  6. Make the ice cream: Heat a small saucepan over high heat. Add the cinnamon sticks and toast for 45 seconds to 1 minute until fragrant. Remove and set aside.
  7. Combine the cream, milk, vanilla pods and seeds, and cinnamon sticks in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Heat just until the mixture comes to a boil, without letting it actually boil. Remove from the heat, cover, and let stand for 12 to 15 minutes.
  8. Set up a large bowl filled one-fourth of the way up with ice water. Place a large, clean bowl over the ice bath so it will stay very still and be secure. Place a fine-mesh sieve over the top bowl.
  9. In a medium-sized glass or metal bowl, whisk the egg yolks and brown sugar until completely combined and thickened. Set aside.
  10. Reheat the milk and cream mixture to a gentle boil; watch carefully and do not allow it to scald or boil over.
  11. Slowly drizzle the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Continue drizzling and whisking until the hot milk mixture is completely incorporated.
  12. Pour the custard back into the pot. With a wooden spoon, stir continuously over low heat for 6 to 8 minutes, until the custard is thick and coats the back of a spoon. (Do not let the custard boil or the mixture will curdle. If steam begins to rise from the custard, briefly remove pot from heat to cool slightly while continuing to stir.)
  13. Pour the hot mixture quickly through the fine-mesh strainer into the chilled bowl in the ice bath, stirring the custard as it cools. Stir in the ground cinnamon and vanilla bean seeds. When cool enough to handle, refrigerate, covered, for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  14. Transfer to an ice cream machine and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  15. When it is ready, scoop the ice cream from the machine and place about half into a tall plastic container. Place the plunger of a food processor (or any cylinder-shaped piece in your kitchen that is a little bit shorter than the container) down the middle. Fill the sides with ice cream, cover, and freeze for 2 hours. Allow to get a bit soft—about 5 or 10 minutes on the kitchen counter will do—and remove the plunger. Add the room temperature maple pecan fudge to the center. Cover and freeze overnight or at least 12 hours. The ice cream may be kept in the freezer for up to one month.

Kitchen Tips

  1. The longer the cream and spices steep, the stronger the flavor will be. Cold temperatures mute flavor, so the stronger the better.
  2. Get out your thermometers! I have two for frying (for dairy and meat) and two candy thermometers (dairy and pareve) that I mark with an all plastic, draw-through twist tie so it is heat resistant and can be cleaned For under 50 bucks, you can by all the thermometers you’ll need and trick out a complete kitchen. It’s a must for keeping food safe to eat and has even been handy when we’ve lost power. Full disclosure: I also have a point-and shoot thermometer (you point it at the food) for making meats, and one each for my ovens, and for my second fridge, and freezer, which have no temperature markings. It’s really a simple and important tool. Below are links to a variety of food thermometers.



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