Salted caramel ice cream has been on my list of flavors to try for quite some time now. Since the temperatures haven’t really cooled down, it is the perfect excuse to make ice cream. I think it was hotter here this weekend than it was all summer, which also meant that by the time I took a picture of the ice cream, it was already halfway melted.
This salted caramel ice cream is one of the most flavor intense ice cream recipes I have ever tried. The rich creamy caramel is accompanied by a subtle hint of salt. I recommend serving this ice cream in a sugar cone since the flavor of the cone also pairs well with the salted caramel ice cream.
This recipe is more labor intensive than most ice cream recipes since you must first make the caramel. But don’t feel intimidated by the process. The end result is well worth the extra effort.
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Once you add the cream, the mixture will bubble and harden. Don’t be alarmed by the hardening of the caramel, it is completely normal. I really wish I had known this the first time I made caramel because I ended up throwing the entire batch in the trash. I guess I thought the sugar and cream would automatically combine to create a smooth caramel. If the mixture hardens, just heat the mixture over low heat until the caramel chunks are completely melted. This may take a little time, but eventually, the caramel will melt to a smooth and creamy mixture.
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Measure out ¼ cup of the sugar and set aside. Pour 2 tbsp. of the remaining ½ cup sugar in an even layer over the bottom of a large saucepan. Heat the pan over medium-high heat. When the sugar melts around the edges and starts to turn amber, stir the mixture gently with a wooden spoon and then add another 2 tbsp. of sugar to the pan. Continue to slowly add what remains of the ½ cup of sugar 2 tbsp. at a time, stirring frequently and allowing most of the sugar to melt before adding more. Watch carefully as the sugar darkens, stirring gently to help it melt evenly.
When the caramel becomes a dark mahogany color, remove the pan from the heat and immediately, but slowly, pour the cream into the pan. (Be very careful because the mixture may steam and bubble up.) When the bubbling subsides, stir to completely blend the cream into the caramel. If you have lumps of hardened caramel in your pan, simply put the pan over low heat and stir until the caramel is melted. Once the caramel is completely smooth, stir in the milk and salt, and heat over medium heat.
Whisk the yolks in a medium bowl, then whisk in the remaining ¼ cup sugar. Scoop ½ cup of the hot cream mixture and, whisking the eggs constantly, add the cream to the bowl with the egg yolks. Repeat, adding another ½ cup of the hot cream to the bowl with the yolks. Using a heatproof rubber spatula, stir the cream in the saucepan as you slowly pour the egg-and-cream mixture from the bowl to the pan. Cook the mixture carefully over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it is thickened, and reads 160-170 degrees on an instant read thermometer.
Strain the base through a fine-mesh strainer into a large bowl set over an ice-water bath, stirring the base frequently until the mixture is cool. Remove the bowl from the ice-water bath, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate the base for at least 2 hours or overnight.
When the base is completely chilled, freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.