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salted caramel ice cream & ice cream basics

Ice cream is one of my favorite things to make (although I don’t do it nearly enough).  It’s always so much quicker and easier than I expect it to be.  It’s also really fun to watch it churn and go from a liquidy base to ice cream – like magic! I love my Cuisinart ice cream maker; it’s really reasonably priced, works well and comes in so many cute colors! I have the red, but I really like the turquoise and the lemon too.  The only trouble with these lower priced models (whether you go Cuisinart or KitchenAid) is that they aren’t self-freezing, so the bowl needs to spend at least 24 hours in the freezer before churning.  So, you either need to plan ahead a bit, or just store the bowl in the freezer all the time.

When it comes to ice cream cookbooks, David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop is my go to, although I also have and like Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams.  Her techniques are a little unconventional – she uses small amounts of cream cheese and corn syrup, and explains the science behind why her recipes help keep ice crystals from forming – but result in creamy, delicious ice creams.  Both David and Jeni provide recipes for both traditional and an array of unique flavors.

Typically, ice creams fall into one of two styles: Philadelphia-style and French-style.  The main difference between the 2 is that French-style uses eggs to create a custard base, while Philadelphia-style does not.  I tend to prefer the flavor of French-style, but you do need to have an instant-read thermometer handy in order to cook the eggs to a safe temperature without scrambling them.

Anyway, on to the recipe.  I love caramel anything, so it’s no surprise that I love this salted caramel ice cream.  It’s very sweet, so a little goes a long way, but the flavor is great.  When I decided I wanted to make this flavor, I turned immediately to The Perfect Scoop – only to discover there’s no recipe for it in the book! Luckily, a quick Google search revealed that David has one on his blog.  Enjoy!

*Note – David adds a caramel praline to the salted caramel base in his.  I went without it, but if you’re interested in that just check out his blog!


  • 2 cups whole milk, divided
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • heaping ½ teaspoon sea salt (fleur de sel if you have it)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract


To make the ice cream, pour 1 cup of the milk into a metal or glass bowl (large enough to hold at least 2 quarts), and rest a fine mesh strainer on top of it.

Spread the sugar in the medium-sized, heavy-bottomed saucepan in an even layer. Heat the sugar over moderate heat until the edges begin to melt. Use a heatproof rubber spatula to gently scrape the liquefied sugar from the bottom and edges towards the center, until all the sugar is dissolved (or most of it—there may be some lumps, which will melt later.)  Try not to stir the sugar much, or it will clump together.  Continue to cook until the sugar is melted and has turned a deep amber color and is just starting to smoke.  You want to make sure it gets dark enough to truly be caramel, but not so dark that it burns – which can happen quickly.  You get a feel for it after you’ve done it a few times!

Once caramelized, remove from heat and stir in the butter and salt, until butter is melted. Gradually add in the cream, whisking constantly.  When you add the butter and cream, the caramel may bubble violently; just keep whisking.  The caramel may harden and seize, but just return it to the heat and continue to stir over low heat until any hard caramel is melted. Stir in 1 cup of the milk.

Add the egg yolks to a small bowl and whisk briefly.  Gradually pour some of the warm caramel mixture over the yolks, stirring 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 and reaches 160-170°F on an instant-read thermometer.

Pour the custard through the strainer into the milk in the previously prepared bowl, add the vanilla, and stir.  Place the bowl over an ice bath (ice and a little bit of water set in a larger bowl), stirring frequently until the mixture is cooled down. From here, most people recommend refrigerating at least 8 hours or until thoroughly chilled.  I find that if you leave the ice cream base over the ice bath long enough (45 min-1 hour), and the bowl to your ice cream maker is cold enough, you don’t need the refrigeration step.  Your call!

Once the ice cream base is thoroughly chilled, freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  Chill in the freezer until firm (usually about 4 hours).

Source: Adapted from David Lebovitz

Related posts:

Desserts, Ice Cream

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