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Saturday, May 12, 2012

Sweet Treats Saturday: Salted Caramel Ice Cream

You know those tubs of ice cream you keep around for those days that never end, or chick-flick nights?  This delicious ice cream would be perfect cradled in your lap while you dab your eyes with a tissue, while re-watching The Notebook.  This ice cream is so yummy and decadent.  I can't compare it to the recent almond praline ice cream as they just don't relate, but if you're a sucker for sea salt and caramel - make this.

Now, if you're afraid of working with sugar, you could omit the candied caramel praline.  I kept it in but could see this recipe still being perfect without it.  My hubby has a fear of anything caramel-like in texture because of his sensitive teeth so that would be a perfect instance to remove it.  In my case... well darn, I guess I can't share. :)

I have to throw in another plug for Brown Eyed Baker.  Sometimes I have to force myself not to make every recipe from her site, just to add variety to the blog, but really, her recipes are incredible.  If you're not already signed up to her feed, I highly recommend it.

Salted Caramel Ice Cream
Recipe from Brown Eyed Baker 
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Ingredients for the caramel (mix-in):
½ cup granulated sugar
¾ teaspoon sea salt, such as fleur de del

Ingredients for the ice cream custard:
2 cups whole milk, divided
1½ cups granulated sugar
4 tablespoons salted butter
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 cup heavy cream
5 egg yolks
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions for the caramel praline:
 1. To make the caramel praline, spread the ½ cup of sugar in an even layer in a medium-sized, heavy duty saucepan. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or brush it sparingly with unflavored oil.

2. Heat the sugar over medium heat until the edges begin to melt. Use a heatproof utensil to gently stir the liquefied sugar from the bottom and edges towards the center, stirring, until all the sugar is dissolved. (Or most of it—there may be some lumps, which will melt later.) Continue to cook, stirring infrequently, until the caramel starts smoking and begins to smell like it’s just about to burn. It won’t take long.

3. Without hesitation, sprinkle in the ¾ teaspoon salt without stirring, then pour the caramel onto the prepared baking sheet and lift up the baking sheet immediately, tilting and swirling it almost vertically to encourage the caramel to form as thin a layer as possible. Set aside to harden and cool.

Directions for the ice cream:
1. To make the ice cream, make an ice bath by filling a large bowl about a third full with ice cubes and adding a cup or so of water so they’re floating. Nest a smaller metal bowl (at least 2 quarts) over the ice, pour 1 cup of the milk into the inner bowl, and rest a mesh strainer on top of it.

2. Spread 1½ cups sugar in the saucepan in an even layer. Cook over medium heat until caramelized, using the same method described in Step #2.

3. Once caramelized, remove from heat and stir in the butter and salt, until butter is melted, then gradually whisk in the cream, stirring as you go. The caramel may harden and seize, but return it to the heat and continue to stir over low heat until any hard caramel is melted. Stir in the remaining 1 cup of the milk.

4. Whisk the yolks in a small bowl and gradually pour some of the warm caramel mixture over the yolks, whisking constantly. Scrape the warmed yolks back into the saucepan and cook the custard using a heatproof utensil, stirring constantly (scraping the bottom as you stir) until the mixture thickens. If using an instant-read thermometer, it should read 160-170 F.

5. Pour the custard through the strainer into the milk set over the ice bath, add the vanilla, then stir frequently until the mixture is cooled down. Refrigerate at least 8 hours or until thoroughly chilled.

6. Freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

7. While the ice cream is churning, crumble the hardened caramel praline into very little bits, about the size of very large confetti (about ½-inch).

8. Once your caramel ice cream is churned, quickly stir in the crushed caramel, then chill in the freezer until firm.

Note: As the ice cream sits, the little bits of caramel may liquefy and get runny and gooey, which is what they’re intended to do.

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