Salted Caramel Ice Cream
Sweet caramel with a hint of salt. It’s a lovely, compelling flavor for ice cream. Sweet, salty, creamy, irresistible.
This is a “Philadelphia-style” ice cream – no eggs or egg yolks, so that the sweet complexity of the salted caramel can shine through unmuted. Creamy, rich, but not heavy or dense, this ice cream scoops beautifully and won’t become rock hard or icy.
Makes about 1.5 quarts.
- 2 cups (480 ml) heavy cream
- 2 cups (480 ml) half & half
- 1 cup (200 g) sugar
- 1/3 cup (80 ml) water
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) corn syrup
- 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons (6 to 9 g) sea salt, to taste
- ice cream maker
- 1.5 quart freezer-safe container (like a loaf pan)
1. Do ahead:
– Freeze the ice cream maker canister and the freezer-safe container for at least 24 hours.
2. Make the caramel ice cream base: (See TIPS)
– Combine the heavy cream and half & half. Keep nearby.
– Stir the sugar and water together in a medium, light-colored, heavy-bottomed saucepan (like stainless steel) over medium-high heat until the sugar is dissolved.
– When the sugar is dissolved into the water and begins to bubble, stop stirring. Just leave to bubble on its own.
- Keep a constant eye on your caramel. The browning of your caramel will start out slow, but then will speed up after some time.
- Swirl the saucepan, only if necessary, so that the caramel will brown evenly.
– As soon as the color of the caramel turns to a dark amber (or the color of an old copper penny), immediately pour some of the cream mixture, about a third of it, into the saucepan. (The mixture will bubble and foam.)
– Lower the heat to low. Stir until the caramelized sugar is completely dissolved into the cream mixture. Then remove from the heat.
– Stir in the remaining cream mixture, vanilla, corn syrup and salt.
- Start with 1 teaspoon salt (6 g) and then add to taste.
3. Chill the ice cream base thoroughly.
– Chill the mixture in the refrigerator at least overnight and up to 2 days.
4. Churn the ice cream.
– Pour the chilled mixture into the ice cream maker and churn for 25 to 30 minutes. (Follow manufacturer’s instructions.)
- The ice cream will be very soft (like very soft “soft-serve”). It will firm up nicely in the freezer. So, don’t be tempted to over-churn the ice cream or it will become butter.
5. Freeze the ice cream until firm.
– Remove the ice cream to the pre-chilled freezer-safe container.
– Cover the top of the ice cream with plastic wrap making full contact with the surface.
– Freeze until firm to your liking, 6 hours to overnight.
About this recipe
Salted caramel is lovely, intriguing and compelling. The sweet-salty flavor is strangely addictive and just so delicious in ice cream.
This ice cream is creamy and rich but not heavy or dense. There are no eggs or egg yolks so that the full flavor of the salted caramel shines through unmuted. (This is an “American-Style” or “Philadelphia-Style” ice cream.)
And the corn syrup? A little corn syrup helps prevent ice cream from forming ice crystals and becoming rock hard. When fully set, this ice cream will be beautifully creamy and scoop-able. And it will stay that way.
Here are just a couple of tips:
1) Caramelizing the sugar:
Dry vs wet caramel
There 2 ways to make caramel:
– Dry caramels are made by heating up sugar until it melts and caramelizes. Wet caramels require the sugar to be dissolved in water first.
The pros and cons of either method:
– Dry caramels cook faster and don’t crystallize, but they are more finicky and can burn easily if the sugar does not melt evenly.
– Wet caramels are less likely to burn and can be a bit more forgiving. But they take a bit longer to cook and can crystallize and make the caramel grainy.
- This recipe uses a wet caramel. I think wet caramels are generally easier. And because they take longer to cook, their flavors are more developed.
How to caramelize sugar (wet):
1. Start with a light-colored, heavy bottomed saucepan.
- Light-colored saucepans (like stainless steel) allow you to see the color of the caramel clearly as it changes.
- Heavy-bottomed saucepans allow more even heating of the caramel.
2. Stir the sugar and water together over medium-high heat until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture starts to bubble.
3. Then just leave it alone to bubble until the caramel darkens to a dark amber (or the color of an old copper penny, butterscotch, well-toasted bread crust, stained red oak, etc.).
4. Swirl the pan occasionally, if needed, so the caramel will color evenly.
- The darker the caramel, the more bitter notes your caramel will have. But you don’t want the caramel too light or it will taste flat. A good point to stop is when the caramel is dark amber or when you just start to see one or two small wisps of smoke.
5. Once you reach your desired caramel color, immediately pour in your cream.
- If you leave the caramel alone in the hot pan, even if it is off the stove, it will continue to cook and will burn.
- You can also submerge the bottom of the saucepan in a big bowl of ice to stop the caramelizing process.
How to avoid crystallization:
- Disturb the bubbling sugar water as little as possible. Swirl the pan only if necessary to get even coloring.
- If sugar has splashed on the sides of the saucepan and crystallized, drip water off a heat-proof pastry brush along the sides of saucepan while the caramel is bubbling away to “wash” down any clinging sugar crystals.
- Place a lid on the saucepan to allow condensation to “wash” down the sides.
- If the whole pot crystallizes, just add some water. Let the sugar re-dissolve in the water over low heat. Once the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is clear, go back to medium-high heat and resume the caramelizing process.
2) Everything needs to be cold, cold, cold!
The colder everything is when churning your ice cream, the smoother and fluffier your ice cream will be.
- Make sure you have frozen your ice cream maker canister, and chilled your ice cream base for at least 24 hours. This will ensure that your ice cream will churn to its fluffiest.
- Freeze the container(s) that you will be storing your ice cream in, too. This will help ensure that your fluffy churned ice cream will stay at its coldest and won’t melt from being placed in a room-temperature container.
Caramel’s beautiful bittersweet flavor comes from the Maillaird reaction. Learn about the Maillard reaction: