My son's favorite flavor of ice cream is Salted Caramel. I blame Grom and our trip to Venice a few years ago for his sophisticated dessert palate. It's not really something worth blaming... I love salted caramel, too... but it was a daunting flavor to attempt to make at home. Have you ever made caramel? Apparently, there are two methods: a dry burn method and one that involves water. Seeing as I'm a devotee of Jeni Britton Bauer and all her ice cream masterpieces, I figured I had to try to make caramel her way.... which is The Dry Burn Way.
If you read the description of the dry burn method in her Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home, I guarantee you will be intimidated. But, like so many things in life, it's important to do & conquer those things that intimidate us. I read through the instructions like 5 times, each time becoming more and more confident that goshdarnit, I can do this.
And, so I did. And, the result was amazing. So, I'm here telling you that you need to face up to the things that intimidate you. Monday Mornings, that Pile of Laundry, Your Boss, heck- Your Kid, and yes, the Dry Burn Method. You can do it!
I adapted the recipe slightly by folding in chunked up salted caramel torrone that I picked up at, of all places, HomeGoods. I figured while we're on the Salted Caramel Train, I may as go all the way. Hence, the subsequent pairing of the ice cream with my Gluten-Free Salted Brownies. I highly recommend the combo.
Salted Caramel Torrone Ice Cream, makes about 1qt
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 TBSP plus 1 tsp cornstarch
- 3 TBSPs cream cheese
- 1/2-1 tsp Maldon sea salt
- 1.25 cups heavy cream
- 2 TBSPs light corn syrup
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tsps vanilla extract
- salted caramel torrone bar, optional
Just like Jeni, I'm going to begin by running over the dry burn method for making caramel first. Read this through multiple times before starting this recipe. The dry burn method begins by adding granulated sugar to a pot over medium heat. Have a rubber spatula ready and just stand there watching your sugar burn. Do not stir the sugar until the bottom layer of sugar is browning and liquifying and there is only a thin layer of white unmelted sugar on top. My sugar took about 7 minutes to start melting. When the edges of the melting sugar begin to darken, nudge the edges towards the center of your pot with the spatula. Stir and push the sugar around until the entire pot of sugar is melted and amber. At this stage, let the sugar continue to cook until little bubbles begin to pop and give off dark smoke. (See, I told you this sounds intimidating.) Now, let it all go just another minute more before removing the pot from the heat. Immediately begin to slowly pour 1/4 cup of the heavy cream corn syrup mixture into the melted sugar, mixing continuously with your rubber spatula. CAREFUL- the melted sugar will pop and splatter as the cold cream hits it's hot surface. Continue adding the cream and stirring until the entire 1.25 cups of heavy cream have been added and combined. If you do this right, your caramel will not seize up. If it does seize up, just return the pot to medium heat and stir until the caramel melts and the cream and sugar are fully combined.
OK- have you read that a few times? If so, let's get to it. Time's a-wasting! Like all Jeni's ice creams, begin by mixing about 2 TBSPs of milk with cornstarch in a small bowl, creating a cornstarch milk slurry. In another small bowl, whisk together cream cheese and salt. Combine corn syrup and heavy cream in a large pyrex spouted measuring cup.
Now, do the dry burn technique described above. Once all of the heavy cream and corn syrup has been added to the pot, return the pot to medium-high heat and add the remaining milk. Stir and bring to a boil, letting the mixture boil for approximately 4 minutes. Remove pot from the heat and whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Return the pot to medium-high heat once more and stir with a rubber spatula for about a minute, until the mixture begins to thicken. Remove pot from heat and pour through a thin mesh sieve to remove any small solidified caramel specks, collecting hot caramel milk mixture in a large bowl.
Add salted cream cheese to the hot caramel milk and stir until fully combined. Finally, add vanilla extract and stir. This is your salted caramel ice cream base. Pour base into a ziplock bag and submerge in an ice bath for 30 minutes. After 30 min, spin down the ice cream according to your ice cream maker's instructions.
If you're adding salted caramel torrone (or any other mix-in... smoked nuts would be amazing), prepare the mix-in and fold mix-in into the ice cream as you pack it into your air-tight ice cream container. Cover ice cream with a layer of wax paper, seal tightly, and place ice cream in the back of your freezer for at least 4 hours before serving.