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Monday, May 27, 2024

We All Scream for Ice Cream

From gardening to grilling out to lounging poolside, summertime is filled with outdoor activities most of us will never grow out of. As a kid, one of my favorite activities on a hot summer day was making homemade ice cream. Back then, we used the crank-style makers (which made it difficult to lift the spoon after so much cranking), but nowadays, as technology takes the manual labor out of most endeavors, all it takes for that same delicious, creamy, homemade ice cream is a little bit of patience — and some close observation for good measure.

Recently, I have fallen in love with salted caramel, which satisfies my savory cravings and massive sweet tooth at the same time. I decided to try my hand at creating my own, coupling it with my first batch of chocolate ice cream. After trying several ice cream recipes, from custard-style to a simpler cream-style, I’ve found the custard base creates a much richer and creamier taste — a winner for this ice cream enthusiast.

With these recipes, you can duplicate my flavor combination or experiment with one of your own.

You’ll Need a Few Pieces of Equipment:
• Large mixing bowl (and space enough for it in your freezer)
• Hand mixer or whisk
• Rubber or silicone spatula
• 2 medium-size sauce pots (preferably with a heavy bottom for even heating)

Custard Ingredients:
• 1 ½ c. heavy whipping cream 
• 1 ½ c. whole milk 
• 2 eggs 
• 1 c. granulated sugar

Caramel Ingredients:
• 1 c. granulated sugar 
• 1 c. heavy whipping cream 
• 1 tsp. vanilla extract 
• 1 tsp. fine sea salt

To begin the caramel, heat the dry sugar on medium-low heat, resisting the urge to turn up the heat and speed up the process (you’ll burn the caramel!). Allow the sugar to melt and brown, stirring occasionally, until it takes on a deep amber color (approx. 10 minutes). Once all of the sugar is sufficiently melted, continue cooking for another 30-60 seconds (it should be smoking slightly at this point), then remove from the heat and add the cream. This will cause the caramel to bubble vigorously — that’s normal. Return it to the stovetop, add the vanilla and salt, and cook for another 1-2 minutes, stirring until it becomes smooth again. Pour into a storage container and set aside, allowing it to cool. (Advice: Wash the sauce pot sooner rather than later.)

While the caramel is cooling, pour the cream and milk for the custard into another sauce pot and turn the heat to medium-low. Again, patience is the key. You want the cream to heat to just below the boiling point, thoroughly warming it without reducing. At this point, I added 1 ½ tablespoons of cocoa powder to the cream, stirring to fully incorporate it into the cream. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs in a large mixing bowl (allow room for a bit of expansion) until they turn a uniform pale yellow. Slowly whisk in the sugar and set aside until the cream is finished heating. As soon as the cream rises to the correct temperature, remove it from the heat and begin to gently whisk it into the egg/sugar mixture. Be careful not to add too much cream too fast, or you will begin to cook the eggs.

Once fully mixed, the fun transformation begins. Let the mixture chill in the freezer, stirring with a whisk or hand mixer every 30-45 minutes. The key is to not let it sit too long or you’ll have undesirable large ice crystals forming. After the first 2 cycles of mixing, the caramel and custard mixtures should both be chilled enough to stir them together and get a nice swirl. Transfer to another sealable container for storage. Enjoy!

Note: The custard base works well for other flavor combinations. I recommend either blackberry and sage or blueberry and fresh tarragon.

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