Time for another Secret Recipe Club recipe. This month I had A Little Bit of Everything. And I have to say that it was easy to pick a recipe because this Salty Caramel Ice Cream just jumped up and sang to me. Although I knew it wouldn't really be a part of my life without swimming in some chocolate chips. (Kip's swam in some chocolate sauce too. We have trouble with chocolate limits around here.)
I should tell you a few things about this recipe.
1. It's very good. It was the smoothest homemade ice cream I think I have ever made.
2. I was nervous about this method of sugar melting since I tend to burn my sugar unless using this fool proof caramel recipe, but Julie's method of sugar melting worked very well.
3. It's even better with chocolate.
4. It is, as it says, salted. When I tasted the un-frozen liquid, it was a little too salty for me, but the freezing took care of that (I assume by making the concoction less dense). However, if you don't like salty caramel or like it just a little tiny bit salty, you should omit or reduce the salt in this.
5. The liquid was thick--almost pudding-like. I figured this would make freezing a snap. However, in my lowest-possible-end ice cream maker, it made it a bit too much of a snap as the outsides froze so quickly that the ice cream maker couldn't move enough to get the middle frozen. Kip ended up churning it by hand--holding the churny thing and turning it around and around. It only took 5-10 minutes and we lived, but if you have a low end ice cream maker, you may want to omit or reduce the corn starch or cook it with the cornstarch for a shorter period of time. [Alternately this would be the perfect ice cream to make in a non-traditional manner like a kid-friendly bag throwing recipe like this. The quick freezing of this ice cream would make it perfect for something like this.]
6. That said, this ice cream was intensely creamy for homemade ice cream and I'm pretty sure we've got the corn starch to thank for that.
7. Heat your cream to simmering!!! (Please notice the exclamation points.) Yes, that dirties one more pan and is a wee bit of a hassle, but it is not as much of a hassle as pouring cold cream into your amber sugar and having the whole thing seize up into one enormous hard caramel candy and then spending the next 30-45 minutes slowly stirring this hard candy thing around your pan until it finally melts. Which is what I did. So do yourself a favor and heat up that cream before you pour it in.
8. This recipe requires a few bowls. Not big obtrusive tough-to-shove-in-your-dishwasher bowls, but yes several. Three to four bowls and 2 pans to be exact. In this way, it's not exactly the perfect weeknight dessert dish (unless of course your kids are throwing bags of it around, in which case it's great). For a warm Sunday afternoon, however, there's nothing better.
9. Julie recommends that when the liquid is done cooking, you throw a bowl of it onto ice to cool it quickly. This is what you should do if you want your ice cream right now. However, I was way to lazy for that and just put mine in the refrigerator overnight.
Salty Caramel Ice Cream with Chocolate Chunks
adapted from A Little Bit of Everything
Makes 1 quart
Prep time: Well, this took me a good hour due to my caramel seizing. I think that with warm cream it will take 20-30 minutes
Freeze time: 10 minutes
(milk: .26, cream cheese: .20, cream: 1.25, sugar: .12, chocolate chips: .90)
2 C whole milk
1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp cornstarch
1 1/2 oz (3 Tbsp) cream cheese, softened
1/2 tsp fine sea salt (reduce or omit if salty caramel isn't your thing)
1 1/4 C heavy cream
2 Tbsp light corn syrup
2/3 C sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 C chocolate chips, chopped so that some of big and some are small
1. Mix 2 Tbsp of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl.
2. Whisk cream cheese and salt (if using) in a medium bowl (this is the bowl where all your ice cream will end up so make sure it's big enough.
3. Put cream in a small pot to warm. You're going to bring it to just under a simmer. Have your 2 Tbsp corn syrup ready to put into the cream just before you pour the cream on the sugar.
4. Fill a bowl with ice if you're going to do the ice bath thing.
To make ice cream:
1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, spread an even layer of sugar over the bottom of the pan. Now heat it WITHOUT STIRRING until there is a full layer of melted sugar on the bottom, but still some white unmelted sugar on top. When the edges/bottom layer start to turn golden, gently pull the melted golden sugar towards the unmelted sugar with a heatproof spatula. In other words, nudge the sugar around until it's all melted and amber (dark goldeny orange) in color--like a penny.
2. As you're waiting for that bottom layer of sugar to melt, be sure your cream is heating up and go ahead and add the corn syrup to it. Give it a stir.
3. When the sugar is melted and golden, remove it from the heat and gradually whisk in the cream mixture. It may still seize a bit and it may bubble up a bit, but it should come together into a beautiful caramel. If there do happen to be chunks that are like hard (or soft) candy, just stir them around on medium low heat until they melt and incorporate into the mixture.
4. Return to heat.
5. Whisk in milk. Bring mixture to a rolling boil for 4 minutes.
6. Remove from heat and stir in cornstarch mixture.
7. Bring back to a boil and cook for 2 minutes until slightly thickened (Note: If you've got a low-end ice cream maker like I do, you may just want to stir this in until thoroughly incorporated and not give it the 2 minutes in an effort to keep it a little less thick so that your ice cream maker can handle it.)
8. Remove from heat. Pour this into your cream cheese mixture (whisking as you do this if you can; borrow an arm if you've got an extra around). Whisk until smooth. Add vanilla extract and whisk.
9. Place in ice bath if you want your ice cream now. Otherwise, cover it and put it in your fridge until you do want it.
10. Freeze in and ice cream maker according to manufacturuer's instructions.
11. Add chocolate chunks at end of freezing time.
12. Eat up. It's really good.