So, I see it's been about a million years since I've visited my own blog, too. Since I'm pregnant in the heat of the summer and it's my job to provide you with some very stereotypical pregnant woman fare, I present to you a most fantastic ice cream recipe. I made this to share with some girlfriends because that's just like a mini vacation in itself. And it was National Ice Cream Day. And it had caramel in it. And it's been on my to-make list for over a year. It was time.
My intent was to make ice cream sandwiches out this, but I didn't for three reasons: 1) because of the caramel in the recipe, it makes for a very soft ice cream. I had to churn this about twice as long as usual and even still I wasn't sure it would freeze properly; 2) the cookie recipe I used was a bomb. It pains me to say this, since I've never had a failed anything come from Smitten Kitchen, but I just thought these cookies were blah. The texture was there, but the flavor was not. Perhaps some hoity toity cocoa powder would help; 3) the flavor of the ice cream stands alone. I didn't think anyone would miss the cookies.
Based on the fact that pretty much everyone said, "oh Michelle! (insert moan and groan here)" as they licked it from the spoon, I think I was right. It's powerful stuff, this caramel ice cream. A way to win friends, or at least ensure they stick around a little longer! A little labor intensive, but worth it, especially knowing that my days may be numbered to fool around with such nonsense as caramel custard ice cream. Oh wait, this one is going to be my sleepy baby. I keep telling myself that. I hope it works that way.
Til then, we're just going to float around as much as we can.
Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream
by David Lebovitz--see his recipe and picture tutorial here
For the caramel praline (mix-in)
I omitted this. I actually did make it, but then could barely get it to release from the pan. Then I tasted the ice cream and decided it was caramel enough without the mix-in.
½ cup (100 gr) sugar
¾ teaspoon sea salt, such as fleur de sel
For the ice cream custard
1. To make the caramel praline, spread the ½ cup (100 gr) of sugar in an even layer in a medium-sized, unlined heavy duty saucepan: I use a 6 quart/liter pan. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or brush it sparingly with unflavored oil.
2. Heat the sugar 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.
3. Without hesitation, sprinkle in the ¾ teaspoon salt without stirring (don't even pause to scratch your nose), then pour the caramel onto the prepared baking sheet and lift up the baking sheet immediately, tilting and swirling it almost vertically to encourage the caramel to form as thin a layer as possible. Set aside to harden and cool.
4. To make the ice cream, make 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 (250 ml) of the milk into the inner bowl, and rest a mesh strainer on top of it.
5. Spread 1½ cups (300 gr) sugar in the saucepan in an even layer. Cook over moderate heat, until caramelized, using the same method described in Step #2.
6. 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. 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 (250 ml) of the milk.
7. 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 160-170 F (71-77 C).
8. 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.
9. Freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.
10. While the ice cream is churning, crumble the hardened caramel praline into very little bits, about the size of very large confetti (about ½-inch, or 1 cm). I use a mortar and pestle, although you can make your own kind of music using your hands or a rolling pin.
11. Once your caramel ice cream is churned, quickly stir in the crushed caramel, then chill in the freezer until firm.
Note: As the ice cream sits, the little bits of caramel may liquefy and get runny and gooey, which is what they're intended to do.