I received a Cuisinart ice cream maker for my birthday and was very excited to test it out. For my first recipe I wanted to choose something pure and decadent and decided to pop on over to David Lebovitz’s blog and see what he had to offer. I chose the Salted Butter Caramel recipe since it combined my two favorite food groups, butter and salt. David is the ice cream king, and after testing only one of his recipes I have already added his best selling book, The Perfect Scoop, to my amazon cart.
Rather than heading to my life partner, Trader Joe’s, for the ingredients, I decided to go see my mistress, Dupont Farmer’s market and get some real upmarket supplies. After making this simple recipe I urge anyone making ice cream to splurge on the ingredients. Even though it was well over 90 degrees at 10am, I trekked (3 whole blocks!) to Dupont Circle and bought farm fresh eggs and whole milk, the basis for my ice cream. Everything else I had in my pantry and I imagine most people do as well. The woman at the dairy booth was a big Lebovitz fan and was excited for me to make the ice cream, as were others in line. Random farmer’s market people, it was a success!!
The recipe is two steps, the first involves making the salted caramel praline, the second is making the ice cream. You can make the praline ahead of time but both parts definitely need your full attention since burning sugar is involved.
The recipe adapted from David Lebovitz. All photos are David Lebovitz:
Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream
One generous quart (liter)
For the caramel praline (mix-in)
2 cups whole milk, divided
1½ cups sugar
4 tablespoons salted butter
scant ½ teaspoon sea salt (again, I doubled this amount based on my own tastes)
1 cups heavy cream
5 large egg yolks
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract (I read on another blog that faux vanilla contains an antifreeze ingredient, so its best to use the real stuff when making ice cream)
1. To make the caramel praline, spread the ½ cup 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 parchment paper.
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 spread it around into a thin layer. 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 of the milk into the inner bowl, and rest a mesh strainer on top of it.
5. Spread 1½ cups 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 (Don’t panic, this happened to me, just trust the chemistry of the heat breaking up the sugar, and keep stirring!) Stir in 1 cup 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. Pour 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.
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 until thoroughly chilled (About 4-8 hours).
9. Once the mixture is thoroughly chilled, freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. (In the case of the cuisinart, it takes about 30 minutes to reach ice cream consistency. If you are like me and keep pausing the machine to dip a spoon in to taste, then slightly longer.)
10. While the ice cream is churning, crumble the hardened caramel praline into very little bits, and add to the mixture.
11. Put the ice cream into a tupperware and into the freezer to let it firm up a bit.
After waiting for 10 minutes, I opened the freezer and dipped my spoon in the tupperware. Honestly it is the best ice cream I have ever had (and I have tried them all), it is so rich and delicious a few spoonfuls is all you need to feel satisfied. Totally worth all the time and effort (and highfalutin eggs and milk). Can’t wait to make my next flavor, any suggestions?