Salted Caramel Ice Cream

Salted Caramel Ice Cream
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churning ice cream
Whirr! Ice cream a churnin’.

This is part of the secret that we mentioned last month (see this post). Now, if you quickly flitted back to that post, you’ve probably figured out our secret plans. If not, stay tuned, and you’ll find out tomorrow. But, whether you’ve figured out our secret or not, let’s scratch out some custard and churn some ice cream.

This recipe came from Ample Hills Creamery, by Brian Smith and Jackie Cuscuna, and was just one of the many interesting-sounding recipes for ice cream (and other treats) from which to choose. We selected this particular recipe based on the number of egg yolks. Yep, the number of egg yolks. This one takes six for a quart of ice cream, which, while the most of any recipe in the book, it was the closest to a French-style ice cream. Basically, rich, creamy, dreamy, with a billion calories per scoop.

Salted Caramel Ice Cream

Yield: 1 quart

Salted Caramel Ice Cream


  • 1 1/2 cups (300 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Abbreviated Instructions

Heat sugar over medium-high heat in a heavy bottomed saucepan, stirring often with a heatproof rubber spatula. When the sugar is melted and smooth, remove spatula and continue to cook, without stirring, until smoke begins to rise. Count to ten, and remove from the heat.

Carefully stir in butter until melted and smooth. Add salt and stir in.

Slowly add cream while stirring -- careful, it'll spatter -- then add milk.

Place over medium-low heat and cook, stirring, until it reaches a temperature of 110°F. Remove from heat.

Whisk egg yolks, and, while whisking, slowly pour in about a cup of hot milk and cream mixture. Return egg mixture to pan.

While stirring continuously, cook custard until it thickens, about 180°F. Stir in vanilla extract.

Pour into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and chill thoroughly, preferably overnight.

Churn custard in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's directions.

Ingredient discussion:

Obviously, if you’re making ice cream and not buying it, you want it to taste outstanding, so use the best ingredients you can find. Preferably organic cream, since it won’t have thickeners and won’t have been ultra-pasteurized. Same advice goes for the milk. And the eggs, of course, are from those happy free-range hens, so your ice cream will taste the best it can.

As an aside, we apologize for the dearth of pictures. It’s always difficult (and dangerous) to take pictures around hot sugar and while making custard. Things need to happen when they need to happen and they just won’t wait.

Procedure in detail:

egg yolks
Separate the eggs when cold, it’s easier.

Mise en place. Separate the eggs. Measure out the cream and milk. Put the sugar in the pan. Cut off the 1/2 stick of butter. Get out a thermometer. Get everything ready so you can make this. It’s not hard, but it will require attention and care.

melting sugar
The sugar will start to melt in just a few minutes. But watch it, so it doesn’t burn.

Melt sugar. Place the pan of sugar over medium-high heat, and, using a heatproof rubber spatula, stir. At first it’s seem as if nothing’s happening, but then you’ll notice trickles of melted sugar on the bottom. Keep stirring until it’s completely melted and smooth, then remove spatula.

melting sugar
As it melts, there will be clumps of sugar in suspension. They’ll melt in.

Wait. Let the sugar cook, without stirring, until it begin to smoke. Not a lot of smoke, just a wisp. It will happen very soon, so pay attention, or you’ll have a blackened mess in your pan. At the first sign of smoke, start counting. When you reach ten, take it off the heat.

Stir in butter. Carefully stir the butter into the hot sugar. It’s very hot, probably over 350°F, and sticky. Meaning it will make a nasty burn if any splatters on you. We know. Trust us. Keep stirring until the butter melts and the mixture is smooth.

Add salt. Sprinkle on the salt, and stir it into the caramel.

Yes, we should be stirring, but our stirring hand is operating the camera.
Yes, we should be stirring, but our stirring hand is operating the camera.

Add cream. Slowly pour the cream into the sugar mixture while stirring. Again, be very careful, as the sugar is still very hot, which will make the cream boil in an instant, releasing steam which will burn you. We know. Trust us. Mix in the cream until smooth. If there are a few lumps where the caramel has hardened, either on the spoon or the pan, don’t worry, it’ll dissolve as we progress.

Add milk. By now, the caramel will be cooled enough so it’ll be less dangerous when you add the milk; it shouldn’t spatter. So, pour in the milk and stir until the mixture is a uniform caramel color.

warming caramel cream
Waiting for the caramel cream to reach 110°F.

Heat. Place the pan back on the stove, this time over medium-low heat, and cook, stirring continuously, until the temperature is 110°F, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat.

Temper eggs. Give the egg yolks a quick whisking so they’re smooth, then, while whisking rapidly, slowly, ever so slowly, pour in about a cup of hot liquid. If possible, start out with just a few drops of the hot liquid and gradually increase the amount. You don’t need to measure the amount of liquid added as it isn’t critical. What is critical is to heat the egg yolks without cooking them. Once you’ve added about a cup of hot liquid to the eggs, pour the egg mixture into the pan.

Cook custard. Place the custard mix back over medium-low heat and cook, stirring continuously, until the custard thickens, about 30-40 minutes. The temperature should be around 180°F. Remove from heat.

Add vanilla. The original recipe didn’t call for vanilla, but when we tasted the custard, we thought that was a great loss. So, add a teaspoon of vanilla extract and stir it in.

Chill. If you wish, you can strain the custard through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl set in ice. This will ensure that the custard and your ice cream won’t have any little bits of caramel to interrupt that super creamy deliciousness; plus, your custard will chill rapidly. We just poured ours into a bowl, covered it with plastic wrap, and put it in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Every 30 minutes or so, we gave it a stir until it was quite cold. Let the custard chill overnight.

churning ice cream
Whirr! Ice cream a churnin’.

Churn. Set up your ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s directions.

Pack. Once churned, either pack so it can freeze solid, or serve as soft serve ice cream.

This is a pretty good ice cream (well, all ice cream is good, right?), but we think it might be a little too sweet for our tastes. Plus, it’s very rich. Very. We can’t see how anyone could eat more than a scoop. At least, one scoop was enough for us. It did have a good caramel flavor, but, if anything, it could have used just a touch more salt for contrast. Still, we think Salted Caramel Ice Cream is better than anything you’ll find at a store, so five stars.

Worth the trouble?

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