Pecan ice cream balls with chocolate-fudge sauce

This is Week #37 of my 2011 cooking challenge! Click here to view all recipes from this challenge. All recipes created for this challenge come from the Food and Wine Annual Cookbook 2010: An Entire Year of Recipes.

The crisp fall weather we are experiencing has been one of the factors that has completely transformed my mood. In all honesty, I hated this summer. It was oppressive on so many levels. I will not look back upon it with much fondness, aside from the times that involved spending time with my boys. It feels incredible to be genuinely enjoying life again. Doing more than the bare minimum. Going above and beyond. Cleaning my house because I want to. Once again looking through recipes and cooking with excitement. Spending more time feeling happy than anxious and sad. Life is good.

To add to the good-ness, my little boys and I are getting more time with my husband now that skydiving season is slowing down. He came home from work early due to bad weather today, so we had some free time on our hands. We decided that Elijah desperately needed some one-on-one love, so I took him to McDonald's for an Elijah-Mommy date. It was fabulous! We enjoyed our time. I love that kid. When we got home, I finished up these pecan ice cream balls that I had started making on Saturday. The bowl that you see in these photos was consumed in approximately 5 minutes, being passed from mouth to mouth to mouth to mouth. The four of us took turns. It was the perfect treat to end the weekend. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Put 2 1/2 pints of vanilla ice cream in the refrigerator until just softened, about 15 minutes. Line a baking sheet with wax paper and transfer it to the freezer.

Meanwhile, spread 2 cups of pecans on a baking sheet and toast until fragrant and browned, 8 minutes. Transfer to a food processor and let cool completely. Coarsely chop the nuts and transfer to a pie plate.

Using a standard ice cream scoop, scoop a 1/2-cup portion of ice cream onto the pecans and roll into a ball, pressing lightly to help the nuts adhere. Transfer the ice cream ball to the prepared baking sheet in the freezer. Repeat with the remaining ice cream and pecans. Freeze the ice cream balls for at least 3 hours before serving.

Once the ice cream balls are sufficiently frozen, add the following ingredients to a medium saucepan:

One 12-ounce bag semisweet chocolate chips

One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

4 tablespoons butter

Cook over low heat, stirring, until the chips are completely melted and the sauce is smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Transfer the sauce to a pitcher or bowl. Serve the ice cream in bowls or sundae cups and drizzle with the warm sauce.

I love that the pecans are frozen onto the ice cream. And more than that, I love that my boys and I enjoyed this treat together.

Click here for a printable recipe!