Sunday, August 31, 2014

Salted Caramel Ice Cream

DEBORAH CROMBIE: I may not have had garden tomatoes or cantaloupe this summer (there's still
time, right?) but I have had a couple of culinary adventures. I've made ice cream twice. First, butter pecan, made in the thirty-year-old ice cream maker that had been languishing in its box in the back of the hall closet for years. It was electric, at least, not hand-crank, and you only had to add ice, not ice and rock salt! Still, messy and noisy, and I'd been day-dreaming over up-to-date ice cream makers, especially the Cuisinart, which had great reviews.

Then one day Marcia Talley told me she was making Salted Caramel Ice Cream and that the recipe was to-die-for, and that her ice cream maker was a Cuisinart.  That was all the persuasion I needed. And I'll add my testimony--the Cuisinart is fabulous, and so is the recipe. So credit to Marcia Talley for the suggestion, and to for reprinting the recipe, which originally appeared in Gourmet magazine in 2009.


1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
2 1/4 cups heavy cream, divided
1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt such as Maldon
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup whole milk
3 large eggs

Equipment: an ice cream maker

Heat 1 cup sugar in a dry 10-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring with a fork to heat sugar evenly, until it starts to melt, then stop stirring and cook, swirling skillet occasionally so sugar melts evenly, until it is dark amber.
Add 1 1/4 cups cream (mixture will spatter) and cook, stirring, until all of caramel has dissolved. Transfer to a bowl and stir in sea salt and vanilla. Cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, bring milk, remaining cup cream, and remaining 1/4 cup sugar just to a boil in a small heavy saucepan, stirring occasionally.

Lightly whisk eggs in a medium bowl, then add half of hot milk mixture in a slow stream, whisking constantly. Pour back into saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until custard coats back of spoon and registers 170°F on an instant-read thermometer (do not let boil). Pour custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl,
then stir in cooled caramel.

Chill custard, stirring occasionally, until very cold, 3 to 6 hours. Freeze custard in ice cream maker (it will still be quite soft), then transfer to an airtight container and put in freezer to firm up.

Makes about 1 quart

Active time:
30 min
total time:
4 hr

Cooks' note: Ice cream keeps 1 week.

(DEBS'S notes: I'd never made caramel before and so burned it the first time. Probably everyone else knows how to make caramel, but if not, a warning--take the pan off the heat as soon as the melted sugar turns amber.  And the ice cream should keep more than a week. I've had a pint in the freezer for two weeks now, and it's still fine.)

Photo is courtesy of Rick Wilson. Food styling (with a few smudges on my yard-sale crystal ice cream glasses) courtesy of me.

And now, to complete your Labor Day weekend feast, here, if you're feeling adventurous, is what comes before the ice cream! Recipe is courtesy of our neighbor Jennifer, who brought us a bowl of just-picked figs from their tree.


Grill your choice of steak. We had organic New York strips, cooked on the rare side of medium rare.

Top with sliced fresh figs, crumbled fresh feta cheese, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Add fresh ground salt and pepper.

That's all there is to it, and it is wonderful!

Photo AND food styling courtesy of me.

Enjoy, and have a great holiday weekend!


  1. Wow . . . yum! What a marvelous-sounding meal. Thanks for the recipes; I see a trip to the grocery store in my future . . . .

    Wishing everyone a happy and safe holiday weekend . . . .

  2. This is enough to make me buy an ice cream maker.

    And can we talk about figs? Fresh figs don't grow here in New England but I know how good they can be, plucked from a bush in a backyard in Los Angeles. Our store-bought figs are either mealy or bland tasting. How do you tell a a really good fig from a blah one without tasting it?

  3. YUMMY! I adore salted caramel. And yes, it is RISKY to make!

    The steak recipe sounds fabulous too..but um, I don't like figs. Yeah, mealy. Maybe I have to move to LA. (But do they have lobsters?)

    I also don't like the other things that are like figs. Dates. Yuck.

    Happy almost end of summer..and ice cream for all!

  4. omg - you're killing me this morning!

    But. I do not have an ice cream maker.

    Has anyone tried this Nigella Lawson recipe for no-churn coffee ice cream? (there are other versions if you don't care for coffee). I have not tried it yet - today may be the day.

    Makes 1 pint

    1 1/4 cup (300 milliliters) heavy or double cream, well-chilled
    2/3 cup (175 grams) sweetened condensed milk
    2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
    2 tablespoons espresso liqueur

  5. Ice cream: I live in the Dairy State. Ice cream and custard abound. Really good stuff goes on sale all the time for as little as $2.50 for a 59-ounce tub, in flavors one never dreamed could exist (including salted caramel). My problem is that if I buy it, I'll eat it. I'm wearing many pounds of the stuff, so I try not to let it into the house-- and I think making it myself is a life experience I will probably never have.

    Figs: We have a lot of ethnic grocery stores. I've bought fresh ones, but I like the dried ones better (again, TOO well, so it's another food rarely allowed in the house).

    Steak: I used to be a total carnivore. Now I am finding that red meat appeals to me less and less. Not sure why that is, but I don't even seem to like it in jerky or sausages or burgers or chili. I use ground turkey instead, and now chili tastes funny to me when made with red meat. I buy turkey brats and Italian sausages, and now pork sausages taste funny-- fatty-- to me. I buy turkey hot dogs too-- the only beef things I THINK I still like are brisket/corned beef and salami/summer sausage, but maybe not even those.

    Not sure how this happened. But I'm a total veggie freak lately. I'd rather have eggplant or summer squash on the grill than steak. (I use the little, long, thin Japanese eggplants and yellow summer squash, cut them lengthwise, toss in a mixture of olive oil and granulated garlic, grill till soft. Then either salt lightly or sprinkle with grated Parmesan, sometimes adding fresh lemon juice. To die for.)

  6. what a magnificent dinner Debs! but I think I'll wait for Hallie to buy the Cuisinart and make the ice cream:)

    I do love figs and dates. Hallie, I've only bought them at Bishop's Orchards in guilford CT, where those to-die-for peaches come from...they are never mealy...

  7. I have had three ice cream makers, including an electric one that was unbelievably messy to use, requiring salt and crushed ice. The Cuisinart is wonderful, and does not take up much space. It's only drawback is the requirement to freeze the tub for 24 hours before you try to make the frozen treat. If we did not have a separate freezer there would be no room for it.

    If you use a KitchenAid stand mixer, you might want to look into the ice cream maker attachment. It uses a very similar tub with freezing liquid inside, and also goes into the freezer for a day beforehand. But if you don't have room for more appliances and already have that massive mixer, this could be a solution.

    I'm curious, too, as to how to tell when figs are fresh. The first time I ever had a good one the difference from dried was just so amazing.

  8. Karen, we looked at the KitchenAid, as my daughter and I both have KitchenAid mixers. But the reviews on the Cuisinart were slightly better, and knowing someone who had one and loved clinched the deal. Yes, you should keep the bowl in the freezer all the time, but I have to take things out of my freezer to get the bowl in!

    When buying fresh figs, you wanted to avoid any that are looking shriveled or mushy. But you also want to eat them ripe, so you have to wait until they feel a little soft. I'm sure that's not very helpful--picking fresh figs may be something you have learn by experience...

  9. Ellen, we eat more meat now than we did for a long time, because we have a a local butcher/meat market. The owners also own the ranch the beef comes from. All the beef is grass fed, no antibiotics, etc.

    However we do turkey chili and turkey tacos. We just like the turkey better in these because it's less greasy.

    The steak in the photo came from Local Yocal, our butcher.

  10. Kaye, my friend Diane Hale has tried that or something similar. Maybe she will post about it:-)

  11. Kaye Barley - What do you do with those Nigella ingredients after you combine them? Thanks

  12. I have never made my own ice cream, but my husband grew up with a family that did that, and he has hinted recently at wanting to give it a try. At least thanks to you, Debs, I know what kind of ice cream maker to buy if and when we try. The salted caramel ice cream sounds and looks delicious.

    Kaye, as a coffee lover, the coffee ice cream is appealing to me. As Debs asked, what more is there to do for that recipe?

    I don't eat much beef these days, but we, too, are having steak today. My husband loves the boneless rib eye steaks, so he will grill them up later today. We will probably just have some baked potatoes and sauteed veggies with it. My mother-in-law makes a killer banana walnut bread with icing and gave us one for this weekend, so that will be dessert later tonight. In fairness, we plan to share our steak meal with MIL.

    A question about steak. When I was around 11 or 12, we had steaks and ate outside on the big picnic table for some holiday, probably Labor Day, and my sister and her boyfriend were in from college. The boyfriend, her future husband, put butter on his steak. Being an impressionable youngster who thought the college guy was cool tried it, too. It was yummy. I don't usually do that anymore, but occasionally I will try a bite with the butter. He was from northeast Ohio, east of Cleveland, and I've often wondered (don't know why I never asked) if that was something done in that area. Anyone else put butter on their steak?

  13. Kaye, Diane Hale here. Yes, the Nigella recipe works a treat. You whip the cream until it's soft peaks, then combine with the sweetened condensed milk, liquor, & espresso. Put it in the freezer, then enjoy. I love not having to make the custard.

  14. Kathy, many restaurants put butter on steaks and don't mention it. Many years ago, when I was on Weight Watchers, they told us that when we ordered steaks in a restaurant, we should specify that we wanted them cooked without butter or oil. They may still do so, or it could be something that was done in the Fifties and Sixties, but not anymore.

  15. OOPS!

    Just popped back and see your Nigella recipe questions and happy to see Diane knew the answer! Sorry I cut that part off - I must have copied it here before I had enough coffee this morning. oy.

    So now I'm craving ice cream AND steak.

  16. Happy Labor Day weekend everyone. I just got back to Houston from LaGrange where I went to the Fayette County Fair with my sister and heard Merle Haggard sing last night. He's still got it! I haven't made ice cream in ages, but I've been tasting it lately, mostly Blue Bell. Italian cream cake ice cream and salted caramel ice cream. Yum.

  17. All I can say is that the steak, fig, and feta combo was so delicious I didn't have room for the salted caramel ice cream. Thanks, Deb, for sharing!

  18. Thanks, Ellen. I didn't know that about restaurants and steaks, and I imagine that's where my brother-in-law picked it up.

  19. Butter with steak is very French, I think. And that's the way my daughter and son-in-law cook steak. They sear the steaks in a very hot cast iron frying pan on both sides, then put a little butter on the steaks and finish them in a hot oven. Compound butter is really good on steak, too. And the classic French Bernaise sauce is mostly butter.