How exactly does one determine if they have an ice cream problem? Is it how many of these questions you can answer “yes” to?
- We have at least 3 different kinds of ice cream in our freezer at all times.
- Not having ice cream in the house is a state of emergency.
- The scooper never stays clean for more than 24 hours.
- We’ve contemplated buying more than one scooper to keep up with demand.
- Every day, at some point, it’s ice cream o’clock.
- At least one of us has had ice cream for breakfast.
Well, if answering “yes” to all six is wrong, we don’t want to be right! We love our ice cream up in here. While we certainly have our preferences in each category (Carton brand? Graeter’s. Carton brand on a budget? Blue Bell. Going out? Handel’s.), we rarely turn ice cream down. What we really, really love is homemade ice cream. I’m the biggest fan of pulling out my trusted Cuisinart ice cream machine, because sometimes I want something a little more exciting than vanilla or mint chocolate chip.
Like Salted Caramel. Just typing that made me salivate. I first encountered the flavor on a trip to Jeni’s in Columbus, Ohio. Salty Caramel is a signature Jeni’s flavor and it was swoon-worthy. Driving to Columbus every week or so isn’t really an option. We can now get containers of Jeni’s here in Indy, but plopping down $9 for a pint every week isn’t really in the grocery budget, either. Jeni Britton Bauer has (finally!) written a very splendid ice cream cookbook, but I was craving this flavor at home long before her book was published.
This recipe is adapted from one I tore out of the now-defunct Gourmet magazine eons ago. If you’ve never attempted homemade ice cream before, you may want to start with something simpler (besides Jeni’s book, I highly recommend The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz). I don’t want to scare you, but this one requires multiple bowls and hissing hot caramel. Man, oh man . . . is it worth it. If you love salty and sweet together, you will die just a little when you eat this. Don’t worry, though, your soul will promptly fly to salty-sweet heaven.
Salted Caramel Ice Cream
Makes approximately 1 quart
1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
2 1/4 cups heavy cream, divided
1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt (I used a coarse sea salt and upped the amount to 1 teaspoon. Start with 1/2 teaspoon and adjust to your taste)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup whole milk
3 large eggs
- Heat 1 cup of sugar in a dry 10-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring to heat sugar evenly, until it begins to melt (do not use a dark, non-stick skillet or you will not be able to see the sugar change color). Stop stirring and cook, swirling skillet occasionally so sugar melts evenly, until it is dark amber.
- Add 1 1/4 cups cream. (WARNING: The cream will hiss and splatter and then seize up into a giant, sticky blob! Fear not! Just insert appropriate swear word and move on. It will be worth it, singed arm hair and all, in the end.) Cook, stirring, until the blob of caramel has dissolved back into the cream. Transfer to a bowl and stir in salt and vanilla. Cool to room temperature.
- Meanwhile, bring milk, remaining cup of cream, and remaining 1/4 of sugar to boil in a small, heavy saucepan, stirring occasionally.
- Lightly whisk eggs in a medium bowl, then add half of hot milk mixture in a slow stream, whisking constantly. Pour back into saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until custard coats back of spoon and registers 170°F (do not let boil). Pour custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl, then stir in cooled caramel.
- Chill custard until very cold, 3-6 hours.
- Pour custard in an ice-cream maker and spin until thick and creamy, then transfer to an airtight container. Press a piece of parchment paper against the surface and seal. Freeze until firm.