What was I thinking, not making salted caramel ice cream until now?
Here it is; six months and many flavors since getting my ice cream machine and I am only just now getting around to whipping up a batch.
Holy moly, this stuff is good. I should only make it once every six months because I am tempted to eat the entire quart in one sitting. And pairing it with coffee was a sheer stroke of genius. I call it a float, but one could get all fancy and call it an affogato, which is simply a scoop of ice cream topped with a shot of espresso. (I don’t have an espresso machine handy, so I just went with some super strong coffee).
This delight takes me to a special, Nirvana-like place in a way that no other food has recently. And with everything that’s on my plate at the moment, finding Nirvana isn’t so bad. Especially when it tastes so good.
This recipe is from the fabulous Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home. And I may not search for another salted caramel ice cream recipe ever again. It is the most decadent balance of salty, sweet and oh-so creamy.
Making Jeni’s ice creams is like a science experiment (and appeals to my scientist nature). Warning: it takes a lot of bowls – but go with it and do the extra dishes, it will be worth it. She calls for the use of corn syrup, cornstarch and cream cheese in her ice creams, always with delicious results. The corn syrup provides glucose (in contrast to granulated sugar which is sucrose) and prevents ice crystals from forming. Cornstarch absorbs extra water molecules. And all that water come from milk, which is 90% water, and having molecules that will bind up all the water will result in a creamier, more elastic ice cream. And cream cheese (perhaps the most unexpected one of the bunch) brings extra casein proteins (also found in milk) which helps to bind up all the ingredients. How cool is that? Ice cream making is like a science … wait, ice cream making IS a science. I love it.
Salted Caramel Coffee Float
makes about a quart
from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home********** 2 cups whole milk 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon cornstarch 3 tablespoons cream cheese 3/4 teaspoon grey sea salt 1 1/4 cups heavy cream 2 tablespoons light corn syrup 2/3 cups sugar 2 teaspoons vanilla extract **********
In a small bowl, whisk the cornstarch with about 2 tablespoons of the milk to create a slurry. Set aside.
In another large bowl (this will be the final bowl holding the ice cream base, so make sure that it is large enough. I like to use an 8-cup batter bowl that has a spout.) whisk the cream cheese and the salt together until smooth. Set aside.
In a 2-cup liquid measuring cup, mix the corn syrup and heavy cream. Set aside.
Heat the sugar in a deep-sided pot over medium heat. Patience is key for caramel making. This is a dry-burn technique. Make sure the sugar is in a uniform layer in the pot and leave it alone until the sides start to melt and darken. Once this happens, take a heat-proof spatula and bring the melted edges in towards the center of the sugar to help melt the remaining sugar. Continue to push the melted sugar inwards until all of the sugar is melted and is evenly amber in color. Once small bubbles start to burst with dark smoke, remove from heat and slowly, SLOWLY (and be careful of exploding hot sugar) pour 1/4 cup of the heavy cream into the sugar and stir furiously. Continue adding all of the cream until it is incorporated. Stir in vanilla.
Return to medium-high heat and add the milk. Bring to a roiling boil and cook for 4 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in cornstarch slurry. Bring back to a boil and cook for a minute longer, until slightly thickened.
Pour through seive into the salted cream cheese and whisk until smooth.
Chill completely. (Jeni says to transfer to a ziploc bag and submerging it into an ice bath, but I usually just stick my batter bowl into the fridge and wait a few hours. I’ve always been pleased with my results.)
Freeze in your ice cream maker. Transfer to a freezer-safe container and freeze for at least 3 hours in the coldest part of your freezer.
For the coffee float: Scoop salted caramel ice cream into a mug and top with strong, hot coffee.
It changed my world.