Salty Caramel Ice Cream

Summer is drawing to a close.

V’s of geese are cutting through the skies most evenings. The temperatures have cooled (slightly). A few ambitious trees have sent  leaves scarlet.

It’s been a good one–very hot, very dry, but good. The garden is full to bursting, we’ve logged many hours at the pool and we’ve made many, many quarts of homemade ice cream.

Ever since discovering Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams (which has since won a James Beard award), I have hardly used any ice cream recipes but hers. They are amazing. As good as any premium ice cream you can buy, but with only fresh ingredients that you’ve sourced.

You can read more about the cookbook here–if you enjoy homemade ice cream, I strongly recommend it. Britton Bauer has mastered the science of making perfect homemade ice cream at home and has shared the secret with you. Her seasonal flavors are innovative, yet leave plenty of room for experimentation.

Honestly, the only flaw is that it uses a lot of bowls–but it’s totally worth it. I often double the recipe and freeze half one day, let my ice cream bowl re-freeze over night, and make the remaining half the next day. If you’re going to dirty all of those bowls, you might as well get two quarts of ice cream out of the deal.

We have many favorites from the book, but Salty Caramel is near the top.

Salty Caramel Ice Cream
by Jeni Britton Bauer, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home

2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) cream cheese, softened
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons light corn syrup (can substitute tapioca syrup)
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Measure out the milk.

In a separate small bowl, add cornstarch. Take two tablespoons of your already measured milk and whisk it into the cornstarch until smooth.

In a large bowl, mix the salt and cream cheese. In a measuring cup with a spout, mix the cream and corn syrup.

In a large heavy bottomed dutch oven (at least 4 quarts if making a single batch, but I prefer larger to prevent boiling over), add the sugar. If you have a enameled cast iron pot, it works beautifully because the light-colored interior allows you to judge the caramel color best.

Heat sugar over medium until edges begin to color and melt. At this point, gently stir to melt completely. When caramel is golden-brown and completely melted, remove from heat.

While stirring constantly, add 1/4 cup of cream/corn syrup mixture. Stir until combined. CAUTION: it will sputter and spurt, and hot caramel can give you a wicked burn, so stir with a long wooden spoon and keep little ones away from the stove.

Continue adding a little cream at a time and stirring until it is all incorporated and the mixture is smooth.  Return to medium heat and stir in the milk.

Bring it to a rolling boil and boil for four minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the milk/cornstarch slurry. Return to heat and a boil, boil for one minute, whisking until thickened.

Pour through a fine-meshed sieve to remove any lumps.  Gradually add to cream cheese and whisk until smooth.

At this point, you can let the bowl cool and cover it with saran wrap for a nice chill in the fridge. The batter must be COMPLETELY chilled before freezing. It will take several hours in the fridge (I typically make my batter in the morning and freeze ice cream in the late afternoon.)

Alternatively, you can use Britton Bauer’s method of putting the mixture in a ziploc bag and submerging in ice water for 30-60 minutes.

When mixture is chilled, freeze in an ice cream maker.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge–it will stay perfect for many, many days. Good luck keeping it that long.

We enjoyed this with chocolate sauce and dry roasted peanuts, but it’s just as good plain out of the container.

More recipes to enjoy:

Hot Fudge and Frozen Chocolate Mousse
David Lebovitz’s Mint Chip Ice Cream
Butterscotch Ice Cream
Sour Cherry Ice Cream
Summer Ice Cubes from Culinary Tribune