Thursday, July 21, 2011

Salty Caramel Ice Cream

I'm trying to remember when my love affair with salted caramel started -- I think it was at Splendido in the spring of 2010. I ordered their chocolate caramel tart for dessert, and it was sprinkled with what appeared to be Maldon salt. I was already full from a very decadent dinner but once I tasted that tart and its divine mingling of dark chocolate, rich buttery caramel, shortbread crust, and crunchy salt flakes, I was done for. Days later, I was still thinking about it. With all due respect to David Chang, THIS was crack pie.

And while I've had a ton of salted caramel goodies since then (my friend B's Salted Caramel Brownies with Bacon stand out), I'd never actually made anything myself. Well when I saw the recipe for Salty Caramel Ice Cream in Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams At Home by Jeni Britton Bauer of the famed Ohio artisan ice cream chain, I knew I had to try it. I mean, it's a no-brainer, right? I was also curious to try making caramel without added water. I don't have the best pots in the world, and the idea of cooking dry sugar until it melted and caramelized seemed a dubious proposition, but why the hell not? Besides, if I burned the pot I'd just have to buy a new.....set.

Well, thanks to Jeni's careful instructions, the caramel, and the resulting ice cream, turned out amazingly well. An incredible flavour of ever-so-slightly-burnt sugar, a hit of saltiness, and a richness that I'm guessing comes from the addition of cream cheese. I recommend sieving at the point where she mentions it, as you'll likely find a couple bits of caramel that don't quite blend in, and while a little texture's not a bad thing, I wanted this ice cream to be silky smooth (and it was). I added texture in serving it up -- with some toasted, chopped cashews and a few flakes of Maldon salt (hey, if it's good enough for Splendido...).

Loved this recipe and can't wait to make it again. Then again, Jeni's Goat Cheese Ice Cream with Cognac Figs sounds pretty out of this world. Figs soaked in booze, made into ice cream? I can get behind that.

Salty Caramel Ice Cream
Makes about 1 quart

2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) cream cheese, softened
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

PREP: Mix 2 tbsp of milk with cornstarch in a bowl to make a smooth slurry. Whisk the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth. Mix the cream with the corn syrup in a measuring cup with a spout. Fill a large bowl with ice and water.

COOK: Heat sugar in a 4 quart saucepan over medium heat until it is melted and golden amber in colour. Remove from heat and, stirring constantly, slowly add a bit of the cream and corn syrup mixture to the caramel. It will fizzle, pop and spurt. Stir until will combined, then add a little more and stir. Keep adding the cream a little at a time until all of it is incorporated.

Return the pan to medium-high heat and add the milk. Bring to a rolling boil and boil for four minutes. Remove from heat and gradually whisk in cornstarch slurry.

Bring back to a boil over medium-high and cook, stirring with a heatproof spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from heat. If any caramel flecks remain, pour mixture through a sieve.

CHILL: Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes.

FREEZE: Pour into frozen canister and spin until thick and creamy. Pack the ice cream in a storage container, press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.

Source: Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams At Home, Jeni Britton Bauer, Artisan, 2011.


  1. My only comment here is ... why wasn't I invited ?

  2. I don't know if it's in Jeni's book or not but the Rockmill Golden Ale & Apricots flavour is amazing! It'd be perfect for you to make if you still have all those apricots!