I thought it’d be appropriate to end my not-so-planned hiatus from blogging** by posting the last of my summer of homemade ice cream adventures.
Mmmm, salted caramel… is there anything more intriguing to the taste buds than the combination of sweet and salty goodness? A friend of mine sent me this recipe that he’d found during one of our many chats about ice cream and food in general. As much as love salted caramel ice cream, I was always afraid to make it at home, and it’s because of the caramel part. Melted sugar kinda scares me… I mean, what if I burn it? Or don’t get the caramel right? It was this fear that kept me from trying this initially, but I was starting to feel pretty confident about my ice cream making skills so I thought, why not face my fear and give this a try?
So, let’s gather up the usual ingredients – I love that it doesn’t take much to make ice cream.
This recipe calls for dark chocolate. I used Baker’s 70% dark chocolate that I had leftover from making chocolate chili ice cream so it worked out perfectly. The recipe also recommends Maldon sea salt. Ok, so I don’t know what this Maldon sea salt is and I was too lazy to look it up, so I just used regular sea salt that I had in the pantry.
The first step is to make the caramel. This particular method doesn’t have water added to the sugar to melt it. Oh boy, that was kinda scary. I watched it like a hawk for it to start melting around the edges. It doesn’t take very long for the sugar to melt at all.
In no time, this is what happens. I think I turned my back for literally 5 seconds and it had started to brown significantly.
In the mean time, I got my cream, butter and salt ready to go.
This is where things went a bit wrong. I removed the caramel from the heat and first added the butter. I then added the cream, but the caramel completely seized up into a giant lumpy mess. Yikes! At this point I was thinking, “that’s it. I’ve ruined it. Game over man, game over!” (Yes, a bit dramatic, but it was a tense moment). Luckily, it was salvageable. The recipe stated that if any of the caramel seized, to put the whole mixture over low heat and keep stirring to melt the sugar.
After about 15 minutes of gentle stirring (and some fretting), the caramel turned out beautifully. At this point, a cup of the milk is stirred in and the mixture removed from the heat.
The finished custard with the egg yolks. Do the usual tempering method of slowly adding a bit of the warm caramel mixture into the egg yolks while whisking vigorously, and then adding it back into the pot to cook and thicken up.
Strain the custard into a container that has the other cup of milk in it. Stir the mixture, let cool, and let chill in the fridge for at least 8 hours (preferably overnight to let the custard cure).
This recipe also includes dark chocolate chips. While I had my ice cream churning in the ice cream maker, I melted the dark chocolate over a double boiler as the recipe specified pouring the melted chocolate in the last 30 seconds of the churning time to create bits of chocolate all throughout the ice cream. I thought it was a bit odd, but wanted to try it anyway. Just a warning – it did not work well for me. The chocolate basically hardened into large chunks. I didn’t find that it spread very well into the mixture, so I ended up having to take out the large chunks of chocolate and discarding them in the end. I did end up with some bits of chocolate, which was nice, but I think next time I make this I will either chop up the chocolate into little bits and add them in as is, or not include them at all and keep the ice cream as plain salted caramel.
Despite the challenges, I ended up a beautifully creamy, salty sweet caramel ice cream. It stays relatively soft in the freezer due to the caramel, so it’s always ready to scoop up and enjoy. This one didn’t last long at all.
Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Ice Cream (recipe from Technicolor Kitchen)
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 1/2 cups caster sugar
- 4 tablespoons salted butter
- scant 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (Maldon)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 5 large egg yolks
- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 140g dark chocolate, finely chopped
Start by making an ice bath by filling a large bowl about a third full with ice cubes and adding a cup or so of water so they’re floating. Nest a smaller metal bowl (at least 2 quarts/liters) over the ice, pour 1 cup (240 ml) of the milk into the inner bowl, and rest a mesh strainer on top of it.
Spread the sugar in a medium saucepan in an even layer. Cook over moderate heat, until the edges begin to melt. Use a heatproof utensil to gently stir the liquefied sugar from the bottom and edges towards the center, stirring, until all the sugar is dissolved. (Or most of it—there may be some lumps, which will melt later.
Continue to cook stirring infrequently until the caramel starts smoking and begins to smell like it’s just about to burn. It won’t take long. Once caramelized, remove from heat and stir in the butter and salt, until butter is melted, then gradually whisk in the cream, stirring as you go – be extremely careful, for the caramel will bubble like crazy once the cream is added; you might want to step away from the pan. The caramel may harden and seize, but return it to the heat and continue to stir over low heat until any hard caramel is melted. Stir in 1 cup (240ml) of the milk.
Whisk the yolks in a small bowl and gradually pour some of the warm caramel mixture over the yolks, stirring constantly. Scrape the warmed yolks back into the saucepan and cook the custard using a heatproof utensil, stirring constantly (scraping the bottom as you stir) until the mixture thickens. If using an instant-read thermometer, it should read 71-77°C (160-170°F).
Pour the custard through the strainer into the milk set over the ice bath, add the vanilla, then stir frequently until the mixture is cooled down. Refrigerate at least 8 hours or until thoroughly chilled.
Freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
While ice cream is freezing, melt chocolate in clean metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring frequently, then transfer to a 1-cup glass measure. When ice cream has finished churning, carefully pour chocolate in a slow stream directly onto ice cream as it churns and continue to churn 30 seconds (chocolate will harden in streaks). Transfer ice cream to an airtight container and put in freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.
Because of the caramel in this ice cream, once churned and frozen, it’ll remain nice & creamy. To make it firmer, crank up your freezer a bit or store it in a shallow pan.
**I’ve neglected updating this blog for almost a month due to a number of things happening in my life. I felt like I lost a bit of my mojo, but I’m back in action. A lot more posts to come!