A very boozy, completely delicious Cognac and Medjool date ice cream recipe. Jump to recipe.
Brooklyn Supper’s focus is on local, seasonal foods, but we’ve never been averse to seasonal foods that come from afar, especially in the winter. As east coasters, we have non-local foods on hand like coffee, chocolate, and lemons. And when it gets cold out, you can be sure we have pounds and pounds of oranges on the counter and a couple containers of dates in the fridge.
Date season peaks in the late fall, and so now is the time to get your hands on some if you haven’t already. Look for a box of delicate Medjool dates, which are almost overwhelmingly sweet. They’re sticky and yielding, with a hint of smokiness and a depth that’s surprising for fruit. After eating several straight out of the box, that intense sweet and smoky flavor got me thinking that dates would be an excellent addition to some boozy ice cream. I was totally right.
To make this delightfully boozy Cognac and Medjool date ice cream, I started by halving and pitting the dates, and then mincing them as well as I could (things at this point were almost hilariously sticky). I then poured some Cognac over the dates, covered them, and stuck them in the fridge. It had been my intention to make the ice cream the next day, but it ended up being a few. I finally whipped up a simple custard base, chilled it, and folded the booze-soaked dates into the ice cream at the last minute. The resulting ice cream is boozy enough to be a grown-ups only kind of thing. It’s rich, like really rich, and the cognac is an excellent counterpoint to the intense honeyed sweetness of the dates.
This ice cream is rich enough that it benefits from a little mediation, either from an austere cookie or a finger of brown liquor. The natural sugars in the dates are easily overwhelmed, so whatever you serve with the ice cream, make sure it’s not too sweet or it will drown out the quiet intensity of the dates.
A boozy, completely delicious Cognac and medjool date ice cream recipe.
- 20 Medjool dates, pitted and finely minced
- 1/2 cup Cognac
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 6 egg yolks
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
Place minced dates in container with a tight-fitting lid or a quart jar, and pour Cognac over them. Stir so that Cognac is well-dispersed. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Stir mixture daily.
When you’re ready to make the ice cream, place egg yolks in a medium-sized bowl and set aside.
Heat a heavy-bottomed sauce pan over medium heat. Add milk, sugar, and sea salt. Stir often, edging heat down a bit if needed. When milk is just steamy, remove from heat. Whisk a quarter cup of the hot milk mixture into egg yolks to temper them. Whisk a few more ladlefuls of warm milk into yolks, until they are warm. Pour milk and yolk mixture back into sauce pan. Stir over medium-low heat about 5 minutes, until mixture has thickened enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.
Remove from heat and stir in cream, spices, and vanilla. Set mixture in fridge to chill at least 3 hours or over an ice bath if you’re in a hurry.
Process custard base according to your ice cream maker’s instructions. When mixture has a little body but is still runny, spoon in the boozy dates. Continue processing, keeping in mind that things will be nearly liquid even when done. Spoon into containers and cure ice cream in the freezer 5 hours or more.
Even with so much Cognac, this ice cream set up nicely. But keep in mind that, owing to the high level of alcohol, it will get melty after about five minutes out of the freezer.
molly yeh says
i am so into dates right now! i wish i would have found them sooner. now i just need to get an ice cream maker…
Katrina @ WVS says
Holy smokes!! Loving this flavour!
I LOVE DATES! They’re nature’s caramel, for sure. This is right up my alley.
Lizzy (Good Things) says
This sounds absolutely exquisite! Thank you for sharing.
I can’t wait to make this! The combination sounds heavenly! I just so happen to have about 20 medjool dates left over from an Ottolenghi date-almond-sumac salad— and now they won’t go to waste! Best wishes to you and your family for a wonderful holiday season and a happy New Year! xo
Oh, this sounds wonderful! So Christmas-y but with a serious adult kick. Definitely going to make this!
I normally would never try and tackle making my own ice cream…but this sounds fabulous!
Brooklyn Supper Admin says
So glad to hear it Natalie! Once you go homemade, it’s hard to go back to store-bought. I love it because I can reduce the sugar and increase the salt (and booze!).
This sounds delicious! I have a batch chilling in the fridge tonight, waiting to churn tomorrow. Just one question though – should I really use 2 *tablespoons* of vanilla? That seems like quite a lot more than I’ve ever used before.
Hi Tracy, The recipe does call for 2 tablespoons of vanilla extract––but it also makes well over a quart. If you think that’s too much, try adding just 1. Hope you love the date ice cream as much as I do.
This turned out delicious. Only problem was the base yielded too much to fit in the machine and allow room for many dates! Next time–two batches! One with candied pecans added.
Great recipe- made it last night. A few suggestions – I was skeptical about adding all the milk and vanilla to the custard base after thickening – and it was indeed very thin. I brought the whole thing back up to a simmer for a few minutes and it came up to a more respectable thickness – the end result was very smooth and creamy and didn’t melt extra fast as noted above.
I would also recommend bringing the cognac up to a simmer in a pan and then adding the dates (then soaking for an extended period as recommended). It keeps all the great cognac flavor but takes that little bit of edge off the raw alcohol taste.
Azima Poonawala says
Is there a way to make this without alcohol? The recipe looks like it can yield some delicious result, but I would like to keep this alcohol free.
Hi Azima, The alcohol here really affects the texture and keeps the ice cream soft. You could try omitting it – it just might make for a less pliant ice cream. Hope that helps!
Elizabeth Atwell says
I am super good at picking out recipes, not so much making them up. And this one seemed good at first glance. OMG. It is divine! Love the dates and the booziness. Everyone I’ve made it for loves it! And I really like the way the “author” chef wrote this: explaining that it needs to be thawed a bit before eating and that it melts fast! Haven’t seen that in gelato, ice cream recipes. This is just so fantastic that my first batch disappeared. Quickly! So I’ve gone and started two more batches of dates, fermenting in the cognac, getting ready to make! Excellent all around! Thanks.
Elizabeth! This make me so happy. Thank you for the feedback. Clearly, I need to make this again – stat! Cheers!
Elizabeth Atwell says
Clearly!! So yummy. Guess you’re the clever “author.” Very cute throughout. Most recipes are boring! But not yours!