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Friday, July 4, 2014

Salted Caramel Ice Cream

Happy 4th of July!

This card was sent to me by my blogging friend, Pam, of Virginia Retro.  Pam's collection of vintage tablecloths leaves me speechless:

Do you find yourself at a loss for words at the sight of these endless stacks?  What if I told you that every time she showcases one of her tablecloths, she coordinates the table setting to match?  I can't imagine how organized you have to be to have so many different sets of plates, glasses, napkins, candlesticks, serving pieces, head is spinning just thinking about cataloging it all!

My head was spinning last week when I made this salted caramel ice cream.  I hadn't made ice cream yet this summer, I had a free afternoon, I decided to get a little fancier than usual.

I debated whether or not I should blog about this ice cream.  Not because it wasn't good.  It was incredible.  Unbelievable.  Really, REALLY good.

But it took an incredible amount of time.  In a nutshell, the ice cream I've made in the past falls into these categories:

1.  Throw all of the ingredients into the ice cream maker, let it mix for 20 to 30 minutes.  Eat it while it's soft, or freeze for later. (Easiest and quickest)

2.  Make an egg-based ice cream, which requires heating the ingredients, tempering eggs, simmering to thicken, refrigerating for a few hours to cool it before it can be mixed in the (frozen) ice cream maker for 20 to 30 minutes, freezing it to firm up. (Easy yet time consuming)

3.  Making an egg-based ice cream (see above), which also requires preparing a recipe in advance for needed ingredients (such as salted caramel) that are part of the ice cream recipe.  (Still easy, yet even more time consuming)

Care to guess which one (1, 2 or 3) this salted caramel ice cream is?

Hint: it wasn't ready to eat until the next day.

If you picked #3, pat yourself on the back.

During the cooking process (particularly when I was stirring the cream into the hot caramel and the caramel suddenly seized), I had many thoughts along the lines of "this better be worth it," "is it really worth all of this trouble?" and "I'm never making this again."

And then when I took the first bite the only thought I had was, "Wow, this was SO worth the time that I put into it!"

I wrote everything down, so that I could duplicate the recipe at some point in the future when I have a free day.  Or two.  One day to make ice cream, one day to recover.

Then I decided that I do need to blog about it, if only to remind myself how time-consuming and frustrating it was to make.

And to remind myself that it was the best ice cream that I've ever made.

I even gave Clyde a spoonful.  He ate it quite enthusiastically.  

I wouldn't read too much into that, however; he also eats ice cubes with the same enthusiasm.

Today's Playlist

"That Time Is Gone"...The dB's
"Never There"...Cake
"Welcome To The Jungle"...Guns N' Roses
"Chelsea Dagger"...The Fratellis
"What I Got"...Sublime
"Flagpole Sitta"...Harvey Danger
"Come Out And Play"...The Offspring
"Ring Of Fire"...Social Distortion
"All My Lovin'"...Me First & The Gimme Gimmes

Salted Caramel Ice Cream (makes 1 quart)

  • 2 cups milk, divided (I used 1% milk)
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) salted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Gather your ingredients.

The green bowl in the upper right is an ice bath...I filled a large bowl about halfway with ice cubes and water and put a 2-quart saucepan on top of the ice cubes.  The handle of the saucepan helps prevent it from sinking.  Or you can nest a bowl into the ice bath instead.  The only important thing to remember is that the bowl/saucepan in the ice bath should be large enough (at least 2 quarts) to hold your ice cream.

Put 1 cup of the milk into the ice bath.  Place a mesh strainer on top.  You will need this later.

I decided to go authentic and use a very coarse Celtic Sea salt.  And since I didn't want large pieces of salt in my ice cream, I ground it with a mortar and pestle.

If your sea salt is coarse, now would be the time to grind it.

Separate your egg yolks into a bowl that is large enough to do some whisking in.  In a little while you are going to temper the egg yolks with warm caramel, so make sure the bowl is big enough for whisking.

Now that the advance prepping is done, the fun begins.

Spread the sugar evenly in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  

The edges will begin to melt.  When this happens, use a rubber spatula to gently stir the sugar until it dissolves.

As it dissolves, it will begin to caramelize.  Just keep the heat from getting too high, and keep stirring.

While it is dissolving, it may get lumpy.

Don't despair!  It all melts somehow.

When it is all melted and caramelized, remove from the heat and add the butter and salt.

Whisk to combine.

Whisk in the cream.

Don't be surprised if the caramel seizes!  If this happens, return the saucepan to LOW heat and stir until the caramel melts.

Stir in 1 cup of milk.

The seized caramel did melt eventually.  It was a long, slow process.

Remove the caramel once again from the heat.

Now you are going to temper your egg yolks.  While whisking the egg yolks, pour about 1/2 cup of the warm caramel into the the bowl.  Don't stop whisking.

I hope that explains why I don't have pictures of this step.  Whisking with one hand, pouring the caramel with the other--no hands left to take a picture!

Pour the now-warmed egg yolks into the saucepan and cook until the mixture thickens, stirring constantly.

Now that the mixture has thickened, you are going to finally use that last cup of milk that you set up in the ice bath.  Pour the caramel through the strainer, into the milk set over the ice bath.  The strainer will catch any lumpy remnants of caramel or eggs that may have cooked while you were tempering them.  Remove the strainer, and stir in the vanilla.  

Continue to stir for a bit, letting the ice bath cool down your mixture. 

When your mixture is no longer screaming hot, place it in your refrigerator to continue cooling.  Allow it to chill completely--mine took about 3 hours.

When the mixture has completely chilled, freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

After 30 minutes in my ice cream maker, this is what I had.  Soft ice cream.  It was dreamy.

I suppose we could have devoured it right then, but instead we put it into a container and let it harden in the freezer overnight.

It was a loooong process. 

At the end of the day, I was thinking to myself I am never making salted caramel ice cream again.

And then, the next day...this.

One spoonful in, and my mind was changed.


  1. Yes, Pam has an awesome collection of beautiful tablecloths! Eye candy! Yummy recipe! I love homemade ice cream! Hope you had a wonderful 4th! xo Heather

  2. Oh my, must try this my friend! Love anything salted caramel! Pam is amazing and her collection of tablecloths is out of this world! The card is just darling! What a sweet friend!

  3. Oh Fran, more drooling, lol. Thanks for the shout out. :)

    Still dealing with the Internet stuff, ugh.


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