Sunday, May 1, 2011

Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream

I do believe that I have found the Holy Grail of Ice Cream recipe!  I adore caramel.  It's my weakness.  I love it more than-- gasp-- chocolate.  I've made caramel flan sauce before, but I've never made my own buttery caramel sauce.  I was inspired to make this recipe when I saw The Brown-Eyed Baker's beautiful photograph of her version.  The recipe originally comes from David Lebovitz, who is the author of one of my favorite dessert books:

 The Perfect Scoop: Ice Creams, Sorbets, Granitas, and Sweet Accompaniments
As I read the posted recipe, several times, I finally got the courage to make my own caramel.   There are three important steps in making this-- making a salted caramel praline ...


...(with fleur de sel), making a buttery caramel sauce...

...and making an ice cream base with egg yolks.  You have to wait for at least eight hours before churning the ice cream, and then it takes a few more hours to allow the ice cream to set.  As the creator of this recipe, David Lebovitz, says--it's well worth the wait.  It has taken me almost two weeks to find the time to sort through and edit a lot of photographs!  By sharing with you, a visual recipe on how to make this ice cream, I hope that you will be inspired to make it.  I believe that you will love it as much as I do!

EQUIPMENT:  A heavy gauge metal pot works best for making caramel.  I had success with my non-stick dark bottomed pot, but I finally invested in an All-Clad 2-quart Saucier Pan.  I love it!
You'll also need an ice cream maker.  A fine-mesh sieve is important for making ice cream (you'll soon see why). A silpat mat is perfect for pouring the hot caramel that will become the salted pralines.

My personal advice on making caramel:
  • Read the directions a few times and rehearse the steps in your mind.  
  • Have everything ready, because once you start to work with hot sugar, you can't stop to measure or look for something. 
  • Use common sense, in working with hot sugar.  It's sticky and is extremely hot!  Tempting as it is, don't dip your finger into the caramel sauce to taste it.  You'll end up with severe burns!
  • Silicone based spatulas worked best in stirring the sauce.
  • When adding butter, milk or any liquid-- it's going to bubble up! Don't panic. Long sleeves are a good idea, just in case there is splatter.
I admit that my greatest fear in making caramel is not wanting to burn the sugar.  But, don't let that stop you! If you burn the sugar, start over! Trust me, I've done it myself.  Once you have success-- as I did with this recipe-- you will never buy caramel sauce again. Nor will you ever need to buy caramels and go through the pain of unwrapping them, and melting them. The payoff is knowing that you did it-- and caramel is so good!

I'll have a printable recipe card, at the bottom of this post.  Or, you can go directly to David Lebovitz's website, where he has posted the recipe for all the world to see (so, I'm not breaking any copyright infringement, for the record). 

Mis en place:  Use quality vanilla; I really like Singing Dog Vanilla. You'll need to separate the egg yolks (I never waste egg whites, and I have a recipe coming up for those).  The yolks will give a beautiful texture to the ice cream custard-- and this is my favorite way to make ice cream. You'll need to set up an ice bath by filling a bowl with ice cubes and enough water to make the ice float.  Pour one cup of whole milk into a the smaller bowl, and nestle it into the ice bath.  Set a fine mesh strainer on top.  Done!

I'll be honest and admit that I don't keep Fleur de Sel salt in my pantry, and that's what David recommends.  I should but I'm cheap frugal about some things.  Instead, I used a sea salt that I buy at Trader Joe's.  Just don't use table salt!  For the pralines:

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, at least,  most of it—there may be some lumps, which will melt later.)  Continue to cook the melted sugar, stirring infrequently until the caramel starts smoking and begins to smell like it’s just about to burn. This happens pretty fast!

Without hesitating (faster than the blink of an eye), sprinkle in the ¾ teaspoon salt without stirring (don’t even pause for anything at all).

 Quickly, but carefully, pour the caramel onto the prepared baking sheet and lift up the baking sheet immediately-- don't be afraid to tilt  and swirl the baking sheet ito almost vertically to encourage the caramel to form as thin a layer as possible.

 
 Set aside to harden and cool.

I was surprised just how easy this was to do.  Amen. Set aside.


These are highly addicting, I warn you!  The sweet and salty is such a great combo.  But, there's more work to do. It's time to make the buttery caramel sauce. Again, we begin by melted sugar. I made a classic mistake that I want to share with you. See all those chunks of sugar?

I got a little too excited, and stirred the sugar too much.  All wasn't lost. I simply relaxed and let the sugar melt, and it all came together. Whew!  Once the sugar is caramelized, remove the pan from the heat...

This is where you start to work fast.   Stir in the butter and salt, until the butter is melted, then gradually whisk in the cream, stirring as you go. However, the caramel just might harden and seize.  Sure enough, mine did!

Simply return it to the heat and continue to stir over low heat until any hard caramel is melted. Stir in 1 cup of whole milk.  Remember the egg yolks?  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).)

We're reaching the home stretch! Pour the custard through the strainer into the milk set over the ice bath, then add the vanilla, stirring frequently until the mixture is cooled down. Refrigerate at least 8 hours or until thoroughly chilled.  I broke the pralines into small bits.

Yes, I pilfered a few more bites!


 So, here I have four cups of chilled ice cream base. 

I poured it into my frozen ice cream bowl, and turned on the motor for a good 25 minutes...

... and I admit, I was a bit worried that the ice cream was so thin! 

Still, I added the caramel praline bits, and I poured the ice cream into a 1-Quart container and let it freeze overnight.  That was hard to do, by the way!

I was so relieved to find that the ice cream had frozen to a solid texture. What a relief!

 My caramel loving heart began to pick up a quicker beat...

Just look at the praline pieces that are starting to soften and become a bit gooey.  Oh my!

I really wanted to set up some nice props and folded napkins all that photog stuff. But, you know what? The ice cream starts to melt very quickly, and I had waited long enough. I took my first taste...

TASTING NOTES:  While I thought that the Lemon Curd ice cream I created was a masterpiece-- I immediately exclaimed this ice cream to be the Holy Grail!  I'm serious.  The ice cream texture was over-the-top creamy.  The caramel flavor was buttery, and just the right amount of sweet.  Then, you get a surprise crunch of the praline, and a small burst of salt.  I bow down and give Mr. Lebovitz my gratitude for sharing this recipe on his website.  It's "da bomb"!  If I had a food truck, I think I would make a fortune selling this very ice cream flavor.  

Yes, this recipe takes a bit of time and effort.  But, it will blow away your friends and family when you serve this.  I have to make more, because you see-- um, I've become very stingy with this ice cream.  I've eked out eating very small portions of this.  It's so freakin' good!
I know that this post is long, and loaded with lots of photos.  I'm so glad that I have confidence in making caramel sauce. David Lebovitz has a great tutorial on his blog, by the way. It's here.  If you want a printed recipe, it's at the bottom of this post.

Thanks for visiting my blog!






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39 comments:

Frieda Loves Bread said...

I will definitely echo your comment as this IS the holy grail of ice cream. I have made this recipe several times with rave reviews! Be very careful and don't get burned...I burned my thumb pouring the caramel onto the baking sheet....still worth it, though!

Frieda Loves Bread said...

Good to find you on FB ~ I "liked" your page!

katek1111 said...

This looks beyond amazing and worth investing in buying all the equipment---I'm drooling just looking at the pictures!

Kim@Bellevue said...

My favorite flavor.... maple bacon ice cream at Molly Moon's in Seattle.

Marsha Estefan said...

As we speak I am eating ice cream from a local shop called "The Kick". It's vanilla and coconut with habanero chiles. DELICIOUS!!
I already like your page and would love a recipe book!

Faith said...

I have specifically asked for an ice cream machine for my birthday this year. I feel like this ice cream would be incredible!!! I would lovvvveee the book!

Patti said...

Oh my...Yum!! That's one I'll have to try. I bought an ice cream maker a couple months ago and have been making ice cream about once a week.
BTW...your Lemon Curd ice cream rocks!!
My all time favorite homemade ice cream right now is peanut butter. It's easy, quick, no cook and I can top it with chocolate and bananas! Yum!
I think my favorite ice cream of all though is Strawberry. If I could find a really good creamy recipe for strawberry ice cream I'd be in heaven!
Thanks for the chance to win David Leovitz's book! I have just about all of his ice cream recipes from his blog bookmarked online.:)

Patti said...

I like you on Facebook! :)

Norma's Nonsense said...

I love homemade ice cream...I love your blog. And I follow you on FB. Keep up the good work

kimt said...

i love to make white chocolate ice cream with really great white chocolate

Mom24 said...

I love a good Pralines & Cream Ice cream

Amber said...

I just love your blog! I really enjoy all the pictures you share! This book sounds wonderful!

Lorrie said...

OOOOOh Debby you kill me with this recipe! My fav ice cream is and always will be peppermint (pink please! I often use leftover candy canes from Christmas time) I adore being one of your foodie friends. xoxo

Melinda said...

Pistachio Almond Ice Cream is my FAVORITE!

Lorrie said...

Ooooo Debby you are killing me with this recipe. My fav ice cream will always be peppermint- pink please! I will use leftover candycanes from Christmas to make. I love being your foodie friend. xoxox

Joanne said...

I'm fairly certain I could live off of salted caramel if it were in any way socially acceptable...this ice cream looks amazing!

My favorite flavor ever has to be a pumpkin cheesecake ice cream I had in Boston when I lived there...SO GOOD.

dorotheaspears964 said...

Usually, I favor ice cream with dark chocolate - either as a chocolate base, covered in chocolate or, with chocolate flakes or brownie bits stirred in ... but, my-oh-my, you certainly make me want to give this recipe a try!

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

After reading the mint chip ice cream recipeon Sticky Gooey Creamy Chewy the other day I realized just how much I WANT this book. Now I really hope I'll win. Maybe I'll get lucky. I'm not generally a lucky person. I don't win many random contests except for in the food blog world. I enjoy food blog swag! One day I want to have a big big giveaway of my own.

This ice cream does look wonderful. I have been making a nice recipe from Chow.com that I love,but I think this one looks even better.

Kathy said...

I always love your blog. The caramel ice cream looks intimidating, but I'm sure like most things, if you just start somewhere, you find that's it's not so bad. I have a few favorite flavors that are like a bong goes off around my spine when I taste one of them. Caramel has always been one of those.

All Things Yummy said...

I tried to make caramel once and burned it. So sad. Your ice cream looks delicious.
My favorite ice cream is peach. yum!

All Things Yummy said...

I'm a fan on facebook. :)

Allie said...

My mouth was watering reading this post! I am SO excited that I have an ice cream maker so that I can actually make this :) I tweeted about your giveaway and I already like your Facebook page! Fingers crossed!!

esther kimchi said...

That looks so awesome!!!

My favourite ice cream is actually Dulce de Leche :D

itztofu said...

Favorite ice cream is cookies n cream!!! The oreo cookies mix perfectly with the ice cream!! ^^

itztofu said...

I liked you on facebook as well! :)

danceswcooks said...

Lordy! This is the closest I've ever come to licking my monitor.

Anonymous said...

I will be making this ice cream as soon as I get a new ice cream machine. Mine died trying to make Lemon Frozen Yogurt at Easter. This looks divine!

Welcome summer--almost!!

PS: Debbie I have an american address even though I live in Canada if that is OK. If not, that's OK too! I love your site.


Gail

Anonymous said...

I liked your Facebook Fan Page too

Gail

A Feast for the Eyes said...

****GIVEAWAY COMMENTS ARE NOW CLOSED**** However, thank you for visiting, and please leave a general comment!

Chris and Amy said...

yum yum yum yum yum. this ice cream looks fantabulous. great post!

Monica H said...

This does look awesome and I'm bummed you didn't send me the picture last week when you said you would. That's okay, all if forgiven because I'm now drooling :-)

Those praline bits about to be mixed into the ice cream look like candied bacon and the thought of that excites me a bit! ha!

bellini said...

This ice cream screams out to be made. My favourite flavour is salted caramel and this is in that same category!!!

Global said...

Ice cream is liked by each and every person and the way you made this, it's taste yummy and the only thing is that you have to kept in mind is that not to burn the sugar.
Gluten Free Recipes

Jen_from_NJ said...

I need to bust out the ice cream maker for this one! I love salty and sweet combinations - amazing!

Ingrid said...

Amen!
~ingrid

Mary Hodsen said...

Like Jen from NJ, the ice cream maker is coming out this weekend!

Anonymous said...

I just made this ice cream! It's in the freezer at the moment begging to be eaten. I did a taste-test of the custard and it tasted divine. A little on the sweet side but still heavenly. My chilled mixture didn't freeze or harden up in the ice cream maker as well. It was thick but quite runny. So I googled the "problem" and found David Lebovitz's tips for making homemade icecream: http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2007/07/tips-for-making-1/

So according to David, sugar doesn't freeze, and we know that his salted caramel icecream is loaded with sugar! But he also advises that one shouldn't reduce the sugar content in his recipes as it would affect the smoothness of the icecream. I'm so glad I stuck with the recommended amount of sugar in the recipe (I tend to reduce sugar in most of my cooking).

Anyway... Fingers crossed that my ice cream will turn out smooth and creamy :).

- Elaine in Sydney, Australia

A Feast for the Eyes said...

Dear Anonymous:
I had the same problem, with the ice cream being very soft. The next day, though, it hardened just right-- very creamy and smooth. I hope you love it as much as we do. It is a bit more work, but such a lovely and rich custard.

Linda said...

This salted butter caramel ice cream is perfect for the holidays because it's continually one of the best ice cream recipes too.