It’s a taste that reminds me of a fine finger tracing its way down your spine while warm lips whisper in your ear all things decadent and sinful. It’s sweet and salty wrapped in a silky drape of thick cream … and it will certainly leave you feeling warm … and cool!
I’m told that watching me enjoy exquisite gelato has the power to make strangers blush. I’ll have to trust my audience on that one, but suffice it to say, I love my iced desserts and because I love everything dairy and am more attracted to salt than to sweet, this is an ice cream that will surely make those of similar tastes to shudder, ooh-ahh.
There are a few tricks to this ice cream. First, you’re essentially making candy (i.e. the caramel) plus you’re making ice cream so if you’re comfortable with melting sugar, this will be a breeze. Melting sugar isn’t hard and it is at the heart of many delicious concoctions like caramel sauce, peanut brittle, dolce leche, spun sugar (for garnish) and many other variations. The sugar will begin to melt in seconds and won’t take long to fully melt … but the key is to be stirring it, maintaining the right heat, and constantly watching it so that it doesn’t burn or caramelize too much. At the wrong heat and without watching, you can quickly go from perfection to a burnt, dark brown goo. Secondly, when making the custard, a component that is at the heart of most ice creams, again, be constantly watching the custard cook, NEVER let it boil, and stir, stir, stir.
Finally, please note that I cook over gas which gives me a more responsive heat and more control. If you’re using electric or induction, be extra careful and adjust your times accordingly. The pictures below should help you know what you’re aiming to achieve.
This makes about a litre of ice cream which, if you have any will-power, will feed 8-10 people a nice serving of scooped ice cream. Worst case, double the recipe and make a litre for yourself and another litre for your guests.
Prep time: 60 minutes
Freeze time: 3-24 hours
Total time: 4 hours
Salted-Caramel Ice Cream
- 1 cup of white sugar
- 1¼ cups of heavy whipping-cream
- 3/4 teaspoon Kosher sea salt
- 1 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon of vanilla paste
- 1¼ cups of heavy whipping-cream
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 3 large eggs at room temperature
Note: You will need an ice cream maker of some description.
- Prepare ice cream maker. If using the kind that requires freezing in advance, then prepare this the night before.
- In a stainless steel or copper pot, melt the sugar over medium heat, stirring the sugar with a flat bottomed whisk for fork to ensure the sugar heats evenly until it starts to melt. It will only take a minute for this to begin. Once it melts, continue to stir only so much as to ensure all the sugar is incorporated and melts and browns evenly. Cook 3-4 minutes until it reaches a beautiful amber. Remove from heat.
→ Avoid splashing it up the sides of the pot as as this will later burn!
- CAREFULLY add the first 1¼ cups of heavy cream to the amber sugar. Do this carefully because the sugar will respond by splattering when the cream hits it. You can avoid this to some degree by removing the sugar from the burner and letting it cool a minute before adding the cream. The cold cream is going to ‘shock’ the sugar and it will harden, so don’t panic.
- Return the pot to the burner and, over medium-high heat, heat the cream to a light simmer, stirring constantly to help the sugar dissolve evenly in the cream. The cream will start to turn a beautiful rich brown. This will take about 6 minutes. When fully dissolved, remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
- Stir in the vanilla bean (or paste) and sprinkle with the Kosher salt. Let stand.
Note: Do NOT use iodized or other salts. Only use a flaked salt to ensure you don’t over-salt and destroy the caramel. Kosher salt can be found in many places, including Middle-Eastern markets and stores.
- Next, begin to prepare the custard. Add the remaining cream, the milk, and the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar to a medium sized pot and bring to an almost boil, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon — about 4 minutes.
- Meanwhile, break the eggs into a small bowl and whisk together until well beaten.
- When the pot with cream has come to temperature, slowly begin to drizzle half of it into the bowl with the eggs — whisking continuously. This will temper the eggs and prevent them from cooking and turning into scrambled eggs (note: scrambled eggs bad, especially in ice cream).
- When you have whisked in half the cream, reverse the process and slowly whisk the egg mixture back into the rest of the cream in the pot.
- Cooking over medium heat, and using an easy to read cooking thermometer, slowly heat up the cream/egg mixture stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. DO NOT boil but let the mixture heat to 170ºF. Remove from heat immediately.
- Slowly pour the custard through a fine-mesh strainer into a large bowl again. Work the custard through the strainer with the wooden spoon or the back of a kitchen spoon. You’re working out any lumps that may have formed in the custard.
- Mix in the cooled caramel until everything is well mixed. Taste for salt and adjust if necessary. I say this because every brand is different. The salt should be “there” but the mixture shouldn’t be explicitly “salty.”
- Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 2-3 hours until well-chilled.
- Pour mixture into ice cream maker and follow manufacturer’s instructions, but I recommend letting this churn a little longer than normal (30-35 minutes) because this is, comparatively, a soft ice cream.
- Transfer to an appropriate freezer container and put in the freezer overnight.Enjoy and good luck not eating it all yourself. Your guests will thank you.