After my two-week hiatus from posting (one week of which I spent in England and one week of which I spent watching television), I’m back with a fabulous triumph: the Salted Caramel Ice Cream recipe I made on Friday!
Ice cream making is hard. I’ve made ice cream maybe five or six times, and it’s only worked once (excluding this occasion). However, I finally figured out what I’ve been doing wrong – I’ve been under-cooking the custard!
Yes, my friends. Ice cream is made with only a few simple ingredients: cream, milk, egg yolks, sugar, and whatever flavoring you decide to add (salt and vanilla, chocolate, or salted caramel, or whatever tickles your fancy). These ingredients are extremely similar to those used to make custard, and the process is also familiar. The cream is heated and then a fraction of it is added to the egg yolks and sugar to temper them before all of the ingredients are combined and cooked over a low heat for a period of time (5 – 10 minutes) until the custard coats the back of the spoon.
Since I recently learned how to make custard, I was confident that I could successfully make an ice cream that inflated and became ice cream rather than flavored soup with the help of my sister and two good friends.
First, we made the salted caramel by melting sugar over the heat, stirring frequently, and praying that it wouldn’t become a burned, hardened mess. Then we added the cream (wearing oven mitts, because adding the cream to the caramel results in hot bubbles and splashes) and heated the caramel some more because the cold cream turned the caramel from a liquid to a solid mass. (I’ll admit it: this was my fault, as I decided for some unfathomable reason that the temperature difference between lukewarm cream and refrigerated cream was minimal.)
Next, we mixed together the egg yolks and some sugar before adding about 1 cup of the hot cream mixture to the eggs, whisking constantly so the eggs wouldn’t scramble (or curdle, as the baking lingo flies). After adding the eggs back into the saucepan, we cooked the mixture until it coated the back of the spoon and held a clear path when some brave soul dragged their finger through the custard.
The custard was then placed into an ice-water bath, which didn’t overflow (it seems like a simple thing to prevent, but it’s really not) because my sister is a genius, before placing the base (the ice cream making term for the custard) into the refrigerator for two hours.
Finally, I was able to breathe easily, because the worst was over. Once the custard is made, ice cream making is smooth sailing: you just refrigerate the base, churn it in an ice cream maker, and let the ice cream solidify in the freezer.
And that’s what we did! We refrigerated, then churned for 35 minutes, and then froze the ice cream for an hour while watching The Mummy (the original, because it’s fabulous). The amount of ice cream the recipe made was the perfect amount – 1 quart is just enough for four ice cream sundaes! The ice cream was delicious. The sweetness of the caramel was enhanced by the salty flavor, and the texture was so smooth and amazing! My first ice-cream making success!