Those of you who know me, know that ice cream is my weakness. I can never say no to it. There was a time when I thought I was a true ice cream addict and this is no joke. I used to dream about it and crave it every night like any other addict. I used to plan my evening time around my bowl of ice cream. Cookies and cream was my drug of choice. Nowadays, I have learned to control those cravings by telling myself…“Everything in moderation, you must eat everything in moderation”.
When I started thinking about what flavor of ice cream to make, I kept going back to something with caramel. I thought of caramelized apples, burnt sugar, butterscotch… I’m not sure why but that was the flavor I was craving. So I just took my basic vanilla ice cream recipe but instead of granulated sugar, I decided to use demerara sugar. Demerara sugar is a large grain, amber-gold natural sugar with some original cane molasses left in it which makes it a perfect sugar to caramelize. When cooked, it turns into a rich, dark and potent caramel. Perfect for I wanted. And of course, I needed to add some salt because what is caramel without salt, right? I started with half a teaspoon but had to increase it to one and a half.
After I churned the ice cream, I tasted it and reminded me of something else but I couldn’t figure out what that was. I thought and thought and realized that this ice cream tastes just like Werther’s caramels! That was my candy of choice for a few years when I was in college. My great friend Beñat and I must have eaten thousands of Werther’s one year… Great memories.
As for the type of ice cream machine one must use… well, there are different models out there. I own a Krups that works decently but nowhere near the texture you get with professional ice cream machines. These home-use machines tend to deliver a grainy, uneven ice cream but it will do for now. I like the White Mountain ice cream maker the best for home-use. I used it at a friends house and it made a fairly good batch. But of course, if you can get your hands on a commercial one, please do so!
SALTED CARAMEL ICE CREAM
350 grams of organic whole milk
450 grams organic heavy cream
120 grams organic egg yolks
100 grams organic demerara sugar
1 ½ tsp sea salt
½ vanilla bean, split
In a small saucepan, simmer the whole milk, heavy cream and the split vanilla bean scraping all the vanilla seeds.
In a large saucepan, we are going to make a dry caramel with the demerara. Heat the saucepan and sprinkle about half of the sugar on it. The sugar will slowly start to melt and turn brown, keep sprinkling more sugar over it until you have incorporated all of it. Stir with a wooden spoon so it caramelizes evenly. It will start to turn darker and it might even have a burnt caramel smell. This is what we want but be careful that it does not burn. Turn the heat off.
Slowly whisk half of the warm milk and cream mixture into the caramel. This mixture will start to bubble up so be careful not to add too much at once or it will over flow. Keep whisking until bubbles disappear and add the remainder of the milk.
If you feel there are crystallized caramel pieces in the bottom of the pan, turn heat on and let them melt again.
Temper the caramel mixture into the egg yolks. Pour this back into the saucepan and cook until thermometer reaches 82ºC. Be careful not to overcook it because it will curdle. Remove from heat and add sea salt. This is going to be the ice cream base.
Strain the ice cream base into a clean bowl and place it on an ice bath so it cools down quickly. Refrigerate it for at least 4 hours before churning it in the ice cream machine. I usually leave it in the refrigerator over night. Churn it according to your machines’ instructions and freeze it.
My husband brought some Indian spiced cashews from London a few weeks ago and I sprinkled those on top of the ice cream. I know, odd combination but they actually complemented the ice cream really well… My mouth is watering right now…