Salted Caramel Ice Cream
“Geltato. It’s Italian.” — my niece, explaining gelato
I love my ice cream maker. Technically, it’s a gelato maker. (What’s gelato?) The good news is that this recipe works in whatever kind of ice cream/frozen confection machine you own. Even the old hand-cranked numbers that my parents used to slave-labor me into churning for endless, soul-deadening stretches of time (about 30 minutes). These days the worst thing a kid is stuck doing is staring at it, which is a bit like watching paint dry, slightly faster, and more edibly.
But aside from serving to distract small children for upwards of 25 minutes at a time, I love my ice cream maker because it lets me make any flavor of ice cream I want. Like peanut butter with bacon chips (better than you’d think, but not as good as peanut butter with chocolate chips). Or a simple caramel without all the thick, syrupy ribbons or embedded caramel cups or waffle cone pieces or whatever else the local ice cream place deems necessary to mess up your nice caramel ice cream with in a misguided quest to make it “less boring.” As you can tell, for me ice cream is serious business. And I can tell you, this is a seriously good one.
From “Classic Caramel Sauce” by Cook’s Illustrated)
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup water
1 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp butter, cold
1/4 tsp sea or kosher salt
Pour 1 cup water into 2-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan; add sugar to center of pot to keep granules from adhering to sides of pot. Bring to boil over high heat, covered. Uncover pot, insert candy thermometer, and continue to boil until syrup is thick and straw-colored, registering 300 degrees on candy thermometer, about 15-20 minutes. Reduce heat to medium; continue to cook until sugar is medium amber, begins to smoke, and registers 350 degrees on candy thermometer, about 5 minutes longer.
Meanwhile, when temperature of syrup reaches 300 degrees, bring cream and salt to simmer in small, heavy-bottomed saucepan over high heat. (If cream reaches simmer before syrup reaches 350 degrees, remove cream from heat and set aside.)
Remove sugar syrup from heat. Pour about one-quarter of hot cream into sugar syrup; let bubbling subside. Add remaining cream; let bubbling subside. Whisk gently until smooth; whisk in butter and salt. Set aside.
Ice Cream Base
3 cups whole milk or half & half
1/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp sea or kosher salt
3/4 cup caramel sauce, warm
Special equipment: an ice cream maker or find out how to make ice cream without one.
Bring 2 3/4 cups milk just to a boil in a medium heavy saucepan over moderate heat. While milk is heating, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, salt, and 1/4 cup (cold) milk in a bowl until smooth, then whisk into boiling milk and bring to a boil over moderate heat, whisking. Switch to a heat-proof spatula and bring to a boil, stirring constantly, for about 4-5 minutes (mixture will be very thick). Remove from heat; stir in caramel. Cool slightly, stirring frequently to prevent a skin from forming, then cover surface with wax paper and chill until cold, at least 1 1/2 hours to overnight.
Prepare mixture in ice cream maker according to instructions. Freeze immediately for at least 3 hours before serving.