Salted-Caramel Ice Cream

Okay, I can’t help myself.  I am now on an ice cream-making roll before the summer turns into winter.  In just a couple of weeks the temperature here in Minneapolis dropped some 20°F.

Friends, family and co-workers are complaining about how cold it is now.  For me, it’s finally at a temperature where I feel civilized.  This ice cream de jour was inspired by one scooped at the Izzy’s Ice Cream shop now in Minneapolis, MN.

In a side-by-side comparison, the caramelized sugar is more pronounced in mine than in their version.  My guess is, I took my melted sugar to a darker amber.  Some would call it burnt sugar.  My brother referred to the taste as creme brulée — burnt sugar; go figure!  It’s a personal preference and both are delicious.  If you want to take if over the top, serve it with a a sprinkle of course sea salt.

Yield: Makes about 5 cups

6 large egg yolks, preferably organic/free range
1 cup (7 oz) granulated sugar, divided
3 tablespoons water
1 ounce (2 tablespoons) salted butter
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 cups whole milk
½ teaspoon fleur de sel

Place a fine mesh strainer over a medium bowl that is set in an ice bath (a large bowl containing ice water).

In another medium bowl, whisk the eggs yolks and ¼ cup (1¾ oz) of sugar until pale yellow.  Set aside.  Do not pour the sugar over the yolks without whisking together.  If you do the sugar will “burn” the yolks and you will end up with tiny shards of yolk that will never dissolve.

In a medium saucepan, add the water and remaining ¾ cup (5 ¼ oz) of sugar.  Gently stir just until the water and sugar combine.  Then, swirl to evenly cook the sugar to the color of dark amber.  Brush down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush if needed.

(“If needed” means; if sugar crystals have “jumped” up on the inside of the of the pan, they need to be washed back into the melting sugar.  Otherwise those very crystals will cause the melting sugar to seize into a sandy mess.  It doesn’t mean that the “sandy” sugar should be thrown away, it just cannot be used for this application.  It can be used for another type of candy though, which is an entirely different blog entry for another day.)

Once the caramel is ready, remove the pan from heat and immediately add the butter, cream and salt (mixture will bubble vigorously and seize).  Return to the heat and stir until the caramel re-melts, to about 175°F.

Whisk half the warm milk mixture into the beaten yolks, 1/2 cup at a time, until combined.  Whisk the milk-yolk mixture back into the remaining milk-caramel mixture in the saucepan; set the saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until steam appears, foam subsides, and the mixture is slightly thickened or an instant-read thermometer registers 185°F. (Do not allow to boil the mixture.  Doing this will curdle the eggs to curdle and the result will be scrambled egg caramel.)

As soon as it reaches 185°F, immediately strain the custard into the bowl that has been set in the ice bath.  Cool the custard to room temperature, stirring occasionally.  Cover and refrigerate until an instant-read thermometer registers 40°F or lower, at least 3 hours or up to 24 hours.

Pour the custard into the ice cream machine canister and churn, following the manufacturer’s instructions, until the mixture resembles soft-serve ice cream.

Transfer the ice cream to an airtight container, press plastic wrap flush against the surface, cover the container, and freeze the ice cream until firm, at least 2 hours.  The ice cream will keep for up to 4 days.

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