Indulgent Caramel Ice Cream

Finished product--caramel ice creamIt is so nice to have a functioning ice cream maker again.  I missed it in the few weeks it was out of service, thanks to our dying fridge fan. Last week we made chocolate raspberry ice cream, which was pretty good but not spectacular.  This week we went with gusto for something much more indulgent.  Caramel ice cream, people.  Holy cow.  Mr. Pea made the selection, accepting that a) he’d be helping and b) there was no quick way to make this.  This was not a recipe we should even want to make by mixing half and half with some caramel ice cream topping, for example, in the blender (that’s been the easy way to make peanut butter ice cream, with great results, and the raspberry, with so-so results).  If we were going to do this, we were going to do it right. Here’s the process.
The Mr., making caramel

Mr. Pea began by making the caramel itself.  I’d only done this once, maybe twice, before, and it was a new project for him.  You add 1c of sugar to a saucepot, mixing in 1/4c water.  You turn the heat to medium-high and stir continuously.  It’ll start to bubble and within 5 or 7 minutes, it’ll start to brown.  You want a nice dark amber color.  Be careful, as once it turns, it turns fast.

While he did this, I mixed 2c whipping cream with 1c milk (1%) and 1.5t vanilla.  I also separated 5 eggs, putting the whites in the fridge for the next morning’s breakfast and beating the yolks.  We ended up swapping that task–you want to beat them until they’re light yellow, and I’m a weakling with tired biceps.  We also set up an ice bath, using a deep pasta serving bowl, water, and a bunch of ice packs.  We’re short on cubes, since I stole our one ice tray to make pesto cubes.

When your caramel is nice and brown, SLOWLY add the cream/milk mix.  I didn’t pay attention to that part and dumped it in quickly.  The sugar mixture seized up into caramel chunks.  Whoops.  Thankfully, these are easily melted by putting the pot back on the stove and stirring continuously for several minutes.  You’re supposed to do that anyway, cooking the mix into a custard, once the eggs are added.  But we were confused and just pushed on.

So here you are–you’ve got a nice, well-blended caramel cream mix.  You have eggs.  Take 1c of your caramel mix and very slowly add to the egg yolks, stirring constantly.  This tempers them so they won’t scramble in your custard, which would be vile.  Then add your yolky blend into the pot.  Stir, stir, stir. Add about 1t kosher salt.  Cook until the custard coats the back of the spoon–you should be able to run your finger through it, and that finger-path should stay put.  We didn’t bother with this step, purely on accident.  It all worked out.
Chilling baseNow put your custard in a bowl, and put your bowl in your ice bath to cool 10-15 minutes.  Then put it in the fridge for several hours to chill thoroughly.  We let ours sit overnight, and at 8 the next morning we froze it in the ice cream maker.  Makes 1-1.5 quarts, which will shortly disappear.

What I love about this process–complicated and long though it might be–is that it makes the richest, creamiest, densest ice cream I’ve ever had, short of some of those backroad farm stands where they also make their own stuff.  But what I love the most is that I know what goes into this.  I know what the ingredients are.  There are no mystery items, no stabilizers, no fillers, no corn syrup.  This makes me happy.  Since it has no travel time, you know this stuff is very fresh, too, which also makes me happy.  It’s the little things that bring me joy, and caramel ice cream is now on that list.

Recipe comes from Chow.

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