I’ve found my new favorite ice cream flavor.
I can’t even describe what salted butter caramel tastes like. The closest I could think of is an abrasive ‘dulce de leche’ that has a harsh overtone, but no, that’s not quite right. In fact, I’m licking away spoonful after spoonful, trying to figure out the right words to do this flavor justice.
Hm, now let’s see… I think the easiest way is to describe the experience of eating it.
It’s definitely creamy for one. Not like an orange-creamsicle creamy, but like a caramel pumpkin latte creamy that you get during the brisk days of fall. Digging the spoon into the carton is like digging your feet into sand. The ice cream gives away easily, leaving traces of a rugged trail. It’s as close to soft serve as you can get, but with the consistency of a hardened ice cream. And even when the ice cream melts, it turns into a thick, brown, golden puddle. When it refreezes, it unexpectedly retains some of its soft creaminess.
It’s also complex. When it first sits on your tongue, you can taste a strong toffee flavor. Let it linger, and that toffee turns sweet for the slightest second. In the final moment, the ice cream turns bitter, but not bitter enough to remain for the aftertaste. And the aftertaste? Well, it just tastes like pure caramel.
I love the way this custard base chills, getting thicker by the hour until it becomes reminiscent of caramel pudding. I love the way this ice cream churns, so smoothly like silk rubbing against your skin. I love the way this ice cream freezes, a shade darker than the moment before. I love everything about it, from the moment I crack and separate the yolks from the egg whites to the moment the spoon lands into my mouth. Everything about this ice cream is perfect.
Although Clare and Amy can’t see eye to eye with me on salted butter caramel ice cream, I know that Angela, Jenny, and Jungyon can. I gave them a teaser taste the night before this flavor was set to debut and it made my day just to see their eyes widen while marveling at this unknown flavor. And on the night when the ice cream did debut, we killed off a good 90% of it, going back for seconds, then thirds, and even fourths for some (ahem, Angela). Though we couldn’t finish the whole thing, we started right where we left off less than 10 hours later, for breakfast. This was so irresistible that I made a second batch… right after the three of them left.
Thank you David Lebovitz- you’ve made me a very happy girl.
Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream
Taken from David Lebovitz
I suggest that you check out David’s blogpost above, as he offers his own description and process. He also suggests adding a caramel praline mix, which I omitted because I thought the ice cream was perfect as is.
- 2 cups (500 ml) whole milk, divided
- 1½ cups (300 gr) sugar
- 4 tablespoons (60 gr) salted butter
- scant ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cups (250 ml) heavy cream
- 5 large egg yolks
- ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
In a large bowl, make an ice bath by filling it a third full with ice and adding a cup of water or two. The ice should be floating. Insert a smaller metal bowl, at least 2 quarts, over the ice. Pour 1 cup of the milk into the small bowl. Lay a mesh strainer on top of it and set aside.
In a saucepan, spread 1.5 cups of sugar in an even layer. If your saucepan isn’t big enough and the sugar lays on in a thick layer, that’s fine. Cook over moderate heat, making sure to stir when the sugar caramelizes. This is the tough part because while you don’t want the caramel to burn, you want it to cook long enough so that the nutty notes peek through the sugary caramel. The easiest way to tell when it’s ready is when the caramel begins to smoke and bubble and is on the edge of burning. Take it off the heat and stir in the butter and salt.
You’ll get a seizing reaction where the butter bubbles wildly in the caramel. Gradually whisk in the cream, stirring as you go. If the caramel gets too hard, return it to the heat and continue to stir over low heat until any hard lumps are melted. Stir in the other 1 cup of the milk.
Whisk the yolks in the small bowl and gradually temper the warm caramel mixture over the yolks. Scrape the warmed yolks back into the saucepan and cook until it turns into a custard like consistency. Scrap the bottom as you stir. The ideal temperature is 160-170F, and a good indication is when it coats the back of a wooden spoon evenly.
Pour the custard through the strainer into the milk that’s in the ice bath. Add the vanilla and then stir frequently until the mixture is cooled down. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours or until thoroughly shilled. The mixture will actually get thicker as it chills.
Freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Note: While David suggests using la creme de la creme of salts (fleur de sel), I am too cheap to splurge $12 on a carton of salt so I stuck with seasalt. If this is what salted butter caramel ice cream tasted like with sea salt, then I can’t even fathom what fleur de sel does to it. In other words, good sea salt should be sufficient.