Rich, creamy, sweet, salty and decadent. This Salted Caramel Ice Cream is homemade at it’s best.
I like to give myself some challenges in the kitchen. Making this Salted Caramel Ice Cream was me laying down the ultimate gauntlet to my family.
Back in the summer of 2013 we holidayed in the South of France and found, on our very own campsite, a steady supply of Salted Caramel Ice Cream that each and every one of us agreed was the best ice cream we had ever tasted. We went back to the same place 2 years later. (I’m 99% certain that Chris’ only motive for returning was the hope of more ice cream). A few things had changed over these 2 years – the resort had expanded, a naturist beach had bizarrely sprung up next to our stretch of family friendly sand & sea but the ice cream, oh the ice cream… It remained as we remembered; silky, creamy, sweet and salty. Intoxicating frozen joy savoured by all of us, as often as possible, for the duration of the holiday.
Confession: for a long time I decided that I would never ever attempt to make my own Salted Caramel Ice Cream because I wasn’t sure I could face the disappointment of being told, 3 times over, that the stuff in France was much better.
However, the years keep on rolling by, we have a long list of holidays to fit in before the kids leave home and a return to the same campsite, just for the sake of the ice cream, seems just a bit too far-fetched. So I committed to making my own, doing the best job I could and living with the cruel remarks that would, inevitably, flow.
And here it is.
In the space of 2 weeks I’ve made this ice cream 3 times. My first attempt was much darker in colour than the one photographed today. And it had a slight burnt note to the caramel. Trust me, this was not a bad thing. The sweet caramel, slightly bitter, burnt undertones and salty kick blended extremely well with the creaminess of the ice cream. It was a wonderful first batch – I was proud of it.
However, because I’m always seeking family approval absolute perfection I made the same recipe again, but cooked the caramel a little less. This time it was mid-amber in colour rather than dark amber. The difference this made to the colour of the final ice cream is phenomenal. I do wish I’d taken a photograph of the first batch to show you the transformation it made. But the proof is in the tasting…. once the family got wind of what I’d made, the ice cream didn’t last long enough for photographs.
Though I was slightly disappointed when I noticed the difference in colour second time around, I couldn’t argue that the salted caramel taste was spot on. Pure, deeply addictive, salty caramel all wrapped up in smooth, creamy ice cream.
What I like best about Salted Caramel in general is how the saltiness tones down the overtly sweet nature of caramel, bringing a slightly savoury edge to the mix. And just like the intensity of the caramel, the saltiness is something that can be adjusted to suit your own palate. The recipe I’ve listed below gives my ideal blend, but feel free to play around.
And the ultimate test: the family verdict…. a surprisingly good match to the stuff of dreams in France. Remarkably close. A very close second. Oh blimey.
- 150 g/ 3/4 cup Caster sugar
- 2 tbsp Water
- 300 ml/ 1 1/4 cups Double (heavy) cream
- 300 ml/ 1 1/4 cups Whole milk
- 6 Egg yolks
- 1 tsp Vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 tbsp Caster sugar
- 1 1/4 tsp Sea salt crystals
Put the water into a heavy based saucepan. Spread the sugar on top in an even layer
Set the pan over a medium heat and allow the sugar to gradually melt. As it melts you can gently swirl the pan a couple of times to ensure the caramel cooks evenly, but do not stir it
Meanwhile put the sea salt into a pestle & mortar & crush lightly
Once the sugar has melted, the caramel will begin to darken. Continue to let it cook until it reaches a lovely mid amber colour - but keep a close eye on the caramel as it can burn easily. Let it go darker for a more intense, almost burnt flavour
Add 1/4 of the cream and the salt, taking care as it can bubble up and is extremely hot. Mix with a small handheld whisk until fully incorporated. Add another 1/4 cream, stir well then add the remaining cream, whisking until thoroughly blended
Remove from the heat
Put the milk into a medium saucepan and heat to just below boiling
Meanwhile beat the sugar, vanilla and egg yolks with an electric beater until pale and thick (about 3 minutes)
Gradually pour the hot milk onto the egg mixture, beating constantly
Pour the custard into the saucepan, along with the caramel and stir well. Cook on a low heat, stirring constantly until thickened. It is vital to heat slowly and stir constantly to avoid the custard splitting
Once the mixture coats the back of a spoon, take off the heat, cover with a layer of clingfilm (to stop a skin forming), let cool, then chill for 4 hours (or overnight)
Pour the custard into your ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer's instructions
Serve immediately or transfer the ice cream into a freezer-proof container, cover the surface directly with greaseproof paper or foil and store in the freezer. (Remove from the freezer 10 minutes before serving).
Pour the ice cream into a suitable freezer-proof bowl, cover and put it in the freezer for 1-1 1/2 hours. The sides should be beginning to freeze, but the centre will be soft and slushy
Remove from the freezer and, working quickly, use electric beaters to beat the ice cream until the ice crystals are uniform. Cover and place back in the freezer
Repeat this process 4-8 more times at 1 hour intervals - the better the texture will be the more the process is repeated
Cover the ice cream with greaseproof paper or foil and freeze for a further 3 hours or overnight
Remove from the freezer 10 minutes before serving
Vary the level of salt according to taste. Play about with the intensity of the caramel - for a slightly burnt edge to your ice cream cook the caramel to a dark amber, but take care NOT to properly burn the caramel as you cook it.
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