Salted caramel ice cream

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope 2016 is full of happiness and success for you.

It’s summer here in New Zealand, which means it’s time for ice cream!

I’ve been wanting to make a salted caramel ice cream for quite some time now, before salty caramels became fashionable and is now everywhere, it seems. But it has taken me this long to get here … better late than never, I suppose!

I settled on adapting the recipe for salted butter caramel ice cream by David Lebovitz. Having previously made a number of David’s ice creams from his book The Perfect Scoop (arguably one of the best cook books on ice cream), I know that this ice cream will be delicious. However, I usually find his ice creams a bit too egg-y, rich, or sweet (sorry David). So the modifications I made are to cut back on the richness a bit. This recipe makes around 1.5 L.

Salted caramel
100 g sugar
3/4 tsp salt

  1. Line or very lightly oil a baking tray.
  2. Make the caramel by heating the sugar in a moderately large saucepan over a moderate heat. I used a stainless steel saucepan with 4 L capacity.
  3. Once the sugar around the edges begins to melt, gently move the melted sugar towards the centre, until most of the sugar is melted.
  4. Stirring infrequently, continue to cook until the caramel burns (i.e. colour deepens, starts to smoke, smells like it’s burnt).
  5. Immediately sprinkle over the salt and pour the caramel onto the baking tray. Scrape out as much as possible, as quickly as possible. Tilt the tray so that the caramel spreads as thinly as possible. Set aside to set. Store in an air tight container, unless using right away.
  6. Do not clean up the saucepan! Use it as it is, with whatever caramel there is left behind, to make the ice cream (see below).

Ice cream
500 mL milk
250 g sugar
1/2 tsp salt
500 mL cream
3 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla

  1. Make an ice water bath big enough to accommodate a small saucepan (I used one with 2 L capacity).
  2. Pour 250 mL of the milk into the small saucepan and put a mesh strainer over it. Place the pan into the water bath.
  3. Make more caramel using the method and the same caramel saucepan as the method above.
  4. Once the caramel is ready, add the salt and cream immediately. Stir over a moderately low heat until most of the caramel is dissolved (be patient!). Don’t worry if some caramel remain – there will be a second round of cooking to come. Take the pan off the heat and add in the remaining 250 mL of milk.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks. Slowly add in the cream mixture while constantly whisking.
  6. Pour everything back into the caramel saucepan. Cook on moderate heat with constant stirring until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. For technophiles, aim for between 77°C and 79°C.
  7. Immediately remove from the heat and pour through the strainer into the small saucepan with prepared cold milk. Add the vanilla. Stir until the mixture is cool.
  8. While this step is optional, I (and David) highly recommend it. Chill the mixture in the fridge thoroughly (for several hours) before proceeding.
  9. Pour into your ice cream maker and churn.
  10. Bash the prepared caramel from the baking tray so that you have small pieces, and add these to the ice cream just before taking it out of the machine.
  11. Set the ice cream in the freezer until firm. Reward all your hard work with ice cream.

Salted caramel ice cream

I’ll be the first to admit that making your own ice cream at home is not for everyone. Heck, I have my own machine (usually the first stumbling block), and did not make any for well over a year. While the process itself is not difficult, it does take time, patience, and planning ahead. And if you use free range eggs like me, the ingredients aren’t cheap.

But the end result is very rewarding. I love this ice cream. It melts very quickly (you’ll see in the photo, which was out of the freezer for 1-2 minutes at most) but the flavours are so intense that I’m happy to eat only a small portion. I would probably forgo the salted caramel pieces next time (or at most make a half portion) as I find them a bit distracting. I just want to enjoy the smooth creaminess without interruption (David likes a lot of mix ins in his ice creams).

So if you have an ice cream machine and the free time to try, do!

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