Fall somehow made its entrance last week, and then just yesterday it was October. I am suddenly feeling the push to tell you about pumpkin, apples, baked squash dishes and, well, Halloween treats, but I’m still in ice cream mode. Salted caramel ice cream, to be exact, which isn’t such a bad thing when it comes to fall because, well, salted caramel ice cream pairs perfectly with all those warm fall desserts like apple crisp and pumpkin pie. It cuts the sweetness just enough and lingers on the tongue, full of flavor.
I consulted David Lebovitz to guide me along my salted caramel path for obvious reasons, the least of which being the guy has written an entire book dedicated to ice cream. Besides, I’d be foolish to believe anyone else could do better, and when he says it’s better than Berthillon, I am inclined to believe that it’s an ice cream worth taking the time to make.
Get all your ingredients ready before you start cooking anything. This process moves quickly, and having it ready to go is important. After placing 1 cup of milk in a medium bowl that is nested inside another bowl holding ice, you can start browning the sugar. Place it in an even layer in a saucepan over medium heat and wait until it melts around the edges before stirring.
Stir in towards the center, scrapping the bottom as you go. Wait again, stirring occasionally, until the sugar just starts to smoke and remove it from the burner. Add in the butter and salt and stir to melt.
Pour in the cream slowly. The caramel will bubble up as the cream hits it. When the cream is all incorporated, stir in the second cup of milk and return to the burner over low heat.
Temper the eggs by adding a bit of the hot caramel to them while whisking.
When the eggs are slightly warm with caramel add them back into the pot and cook until the caramel cream thickens.
Strain the caramel into the milk.
Stir it up and then sit it in the fridge until it’s nice and cold. And when you can’t stand it any longer, place it in your ice cream machine to churn.
After churning I added chopped chocolate-covered pretzels to half of my double batch for a dessert on its own. The second half I left naked. I envision it ending up on an apfelradln or two in the very near future.
Of note: I used Helene’s method of storing the ice cream in a loaf pan in plastic wrap. It’s been a bit messy as we get into the corners of that pan, but it keeps everything nice and covered up, safe from freezer burn. Genius, really. Plus, it’s in a pretty copper pan.
Additionally, what I really loved about this ice cream was its ability to stay soft in the freezer. Lots of homemade ice creams will get really hard in your freezer. This one remained scoopable even after days in the deep freeze. It makes me love it that much more.
2 cups whole milk, divided
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 tablespoons salted butter
1/2 teaspoon flaked sea salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
5 egg yolks
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
Fill a large bowl 1/3 of the way with ice and then place a smaller bowl inside it. Pour 1 cup of the milk into the bowl. Set aside. In a large stainless steel saucepan spread the sugar in an even layer. Over a medium heat, wait until the sugar begins to melt around the edges. Using a silicon spatula or other heat-safe utensil, slowly scrape the saucepan towards the center until all the sugar has dissolved. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar just starts to smoke. Remove from heat and immediately add in the salt and butter and whisk until all the butter is melted. Slowly stir in the cream, whisking as you pour.
Return the saucepan to the burner, turning it down to a low heat. Stir in 1 cup of milk. In a small bowl beat the five egg yolks. Temper the yolks by placing a ladle-full of caramel liquid into the beaten yolks, whisking as you pour. Then pour the yolks into the caramel and continue cooking until the caramel mixture is thick and the temperature reaches 160° F. Remove from heat.
Using a wire mesh strainer, strain the caramel liquid into the milk in the ice bath. Whisk together and stir until mixture is warm and not hot. Place the mixture in the fridge until it is cold, at least 5 hours, and then churn in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions. After churning, stir in any desired extras, like 1 cup chopped chocolate-covered pretzels, and then freeze.
Makes 6 cups ice cream.