If classic vanilla ice cream can be bested, it's only by iconic rum raisin. How the latter combination first came to prominence is anyone's guess, but it may have reached its apotheosis in the 1980s, when it became Haagen-Dazs's ultimate cult flavor. Anyway, the combination of rum and raisins has long elevated all kinds of desserts; you'll find them together in bread pudding and rice pudding, in dessert sauces, candies, and cakes. But when applied to a vanilla custard base, the flavors truly shine: a concentrated burst of dried fruit cut by the boozy kick of rum, all cushioned by creamy dairy. It's kid-friendly sweetness and grown-up complexity, all in one bite.
- 1 cup raisins
- 1 cup dark rum
- 3⁄4 cup sugar
- 6 egg yolks
- 2 cups milk
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
Place raisins and rum in a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit until raisins soften and absorb rum, at least 8 hours or overnight. Drain, reserving 2 tbsp. rum, and set raisins and rum aside.
Place sugar and yolks in a 4-qt. saucepan, and whisk until pale yellow and lightened slightly, about 2 minutes. Add milk, and stir until smooth. Place over medium heat, and cook, stirring often, until mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes. Pour through a fine strainer into a large bowl. Whisk in drained raisins along with reserved rum, cream, and vanilla; cover custard with plastic wrap, pressing it against the surface of the custard, and refrigerate until chilled.
Pour custard into an ice cream maker, and process according to manufacturer's instructions until churned and thick. Transfer to an airtight container, and seal. Freeze until set before serving, at least 4 hours.