Maple gelato with salted pecan brittle

A not-too-sweet dessert everyone will love!

I was fortunate to enjoy homemade ice cream on a semi-regular basis when was growing up. We had one of those wooden bucket style ice cream makers, to which you added ice cubes and rock salt then put the custard base in a cylinder in the middle. After what seemed like hours of cranking by hand, the ice cream would be properly churned and frozen. Today’s ice cream makers take a lot of the work out of the process as many are electric; I still prefer my hand-cranked Donvier as the fact that it requires hands-on attention every few minutes means I get to enjoy watching as the custard transform into ice cream or gelato. This recipe is a real family favourite; the maple flavour is subtle yet pleasing and not overly sweet tasting. The optional pecan brittle makes for a delightful topping or, if you prefer, you can stir it right into the gelato mixture before transferring it from the ice cream maker to a container to finish firming up in the freezer.



  • 1 cup (250 mL) maple syrup
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 1/2 cups (625 mL) milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 mL) sea salt
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) heavy cream

Pecan Brittle

  • 3/4 cup (185 mL) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) water
  • 3/4 cup (185 mL) pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) flaky sea salt


  • To make the gelato base, vigorously beat together the maple syrup and egg yolks in a medium-sized saucepan. Set aside.
  • Heat the milk in large heatproof bowl in the microwave or in a pan placed over medium heat on the stove. Bring the mixture just to a boil, then remove from heat.
  • Whisking constantly, pour the hot milk, 1/2 cup at a time, into the egg yolk mixture.
  • Add the salt and cream. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a metal spoon and is just barely beginning to boil. Take the pan off the heat.
  • Place a fine meshed sieve over a broad, shallow container, and pour the gelato base through the sieve into a broad, shallow dish or storage container.
  • Cover and the gelato mixture and refrigerate until well-chilled (at least 6 hours).
  • While gelato is chilling, make the brittle. Line a 9 x 13 inch (22.5 x 32.5 cm) baking pan with parchment paper. Scatter the pecans in an even layer on the bottom of the pan (they don’t need to reach all the way to the edges) and set aside.
  • In a small saucepan combine the sugar and water and place over medium heat. Let come to a boil without stirring (you can swirl the pan occasionally to encourage the sugar to dissolve more quickly).
  • Keep at a moderate boil until mixture turns an amber color, about 10 minutes and reaches 310F on an instant read or candy thermometer.
  • Remove from heat and immediately pour slowly over the pecans in the prepared baking pan, covering the nuts evenly with a thin layer of caramel. Immediately sprinkle with salt.
  • Set aside to cool completely then break into small pieces.
  • Pecan brittle can be made ahead; store in a covered container at room temperature up to 1 week.
  • When gelato base mixture is thoroughly chilled, freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Makes about 1 litre.

Author: Paula Roy

Welcome to my kitchen! I love simple dishes prepared with passion and am always seeking to find new methods to make food as fun and flavourful as possible. If you enjoy this space be sure to check out my Rogers TV Ottawa cooking show, Paula Roy's Favourite Foods, available on local cable, streaming and a dedicated playlist on Rogers TV's YouTube channel.

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