Saturday, August 17, 2013

Salted Caramel Ice Cream

Salt is interesting. You need salt to live, but too much can be bad for you. Salt makes food taste good, but on the other hand, you don't want food to taste like salt.

And ... you have the choice of adding salt so it blends into whatever you're making, or you can add the salt so it's an accent. Like on pretzels. Or when you use a finishing salt, like on fresh tomatoes or a salad.

Or when you salt meat so the outside of the meat has a saltier flavor. Or when you sprinkle a bit of salt on top of something sweet, like chocolate truffles.

For this salted caramel ice cream, I added some salt to the ice cream mixture, and then I added some swirled into the ice cream at the very end. The salt still melted into the ice cream - it's not like you would find little salty crunchy bits in the ice cream. But there were little teeny pockets of saltiness that hit your tongue and wake it up.

I don't know if anyone would realize that it was salt, but they'd notice sudden bursts of more intense flavor. Just like magic.

Mmmmm. Salt.

I didn't add a lot more salt to this ice cream than I've used in other ice creams - it's the way it's used that's different. I suggest that you use a slightly larger crystal salt than table salt. Not those big rocks that you grind in a salt grinder, but a more substantial kosher salt is lovely.

Now that we're past the salt, let's talk about that caramel. Because this recipe starts with sugar, not with a caramel that you buy. Yup, you're cooking your own caramel before you make the ice cream.

But don't be frightened. I'll be right here with you.

Heh. I'll probably be eating ice cream. But I'll be here ... somewhere.

Salted Caramel Ice Cream

3/4 cup sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons rum
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

In a heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat, heat the sugar, butter, and salt. Heat it slowly, stirring often, until the sugar melts.

This is a teeny bit tricky, since you've got butter that burns at a lower temperature, and sugar that you want to get melted and then brown. But you can do it. Just keep watching it, and don't let parts of it get too brown.

Continue cooking until you have a medium-ish brown product. You don't want it to get too brown, or it will go bitter on you. And you don't want it to burn, because that's just bad. Better to stop a little short, if you're worried.

Add about half of the cream - it will bubble up like crazy, but just keep on stirring. The caramel will want to solidify and might simply ball up around your spoon or whisk. Just keep cooking and stirring until the caramel melts again and you've got a smooth sauce.

Hey! Look! Caramel sauce!

Turn off the heat and add the rest of the cream, along with the milk, vanilla extract, and rum. Stir until well combined, the transfer to a storage container and refrigerate until fully chilled. The next day is fine. You've got a fairly warm mixture, so it's going to take some time to chill well.

When the mixture is well-chilled, churn it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. When it's done, transfer to a storage container, sprinkling on tiny amounts of salt as you add layers of ice cream to the container.

If you like, give the ice cream a quick swirl or stir when all the ice cream is in the container and all the salt is added - but don't stir to much or the salt will get too well distributed in the ice cream and you won't get those pops of flavor.

Freeze the ice cream until firm.

This post was part of #IceCreamWeek organized by Kim of Cravings of a Lunatic and Jen of Juanita’s Cocina, along with more than 20 of their bloggers. If you’d like to check out today’s #IceCreamWeek recipes, drool over the blogs below:

Mint Chocolate Chip Brownie Ice Cream Cake by Cravings of a Lunatic
Ice Cream Crunch Cake by Juanita's Cocina
Birthday Ice Cream Bombe by girlichef
Japanese Yuzu Citrus Ice Cream by Ninja Baker
Coconut-Key Lime Pie Ice Cream Cups by The Kitchen is My Playground
Salted Caramel Ice Cream by Cookistry
Chocolate Malt Ice Cream Cake by Food Babbles
Funfetti Ice Cream Krispie Cupcakes by The Spiffy Cookie
Brownie Fudge Ripple Ice Cream by Poet in the Pantry
Wild Blueberry Ice Cream Smoothie by Foodness Gracious