I love ice cream. It has been my most favorite food ever since I was a kid and in fact one of the first things I remember wanting to be when I grew up was an owner of a Dairy Queen. True story. My very first job was at a Dairy-Queen-like place in my hometown and I can easily ramble off some of the best places to get ice cream across the country off the top of my head (Herrell’s in Northampton, MA, Cones in New York City, Shatila in Dearborn, MI, Babcock Dairy in Madison, WI, see?) I would add Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream in Columbus, OH to this list only I have never actually been there. If I ever find myself in Columbus you can bet I will be stopping by, but until then I plan to work my way through Jeni’s cookbook. (Is it still called a “cookbook” when it’s all about ice cream?)
I decided to start with her Salty Caramel ice cream which is apparently her most popular flavor. I am always a fan of salty and sweet together so dove in even though the first step is to burn raw sugar in a saucepan which I found slightly daunting. I shouldn’t have. It was easy!
Jeni’s recipes don’t involve egg yolks which was a first for me when making ice cream and suited me just fine since it is easy to start to cook the egg yolks while making the custard and that is no bueno. No one wants a cooked egg bite when eating ice cream. Yick.
This ice cream is divine. You can taste the burnt sugar caramel-y goodness with the hint of the sea salt. It is creamy and smooth and all the things you want ice cream to be. It was also fantastic when paired with the gluten-free brownies I made earlier in the week– especially if you heat the brownies up a bit first! Mmm… Going for a jog now.
Salty Caramel Ice Cream (from “Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home” by Jeni Britton Bauer)
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 ½ ounces (3 tablespoons) cream cheese, softened
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 ¼ cups heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry.
Whisk the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth.
Mix the cream with the corn syrup in a measuring cup with a spout.
Fill a large bowl with ice and water.
Heat the sugar in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat until it is melted and golden amber in color. Remove from the heat and, stirring constantly, slowly add a bit of the cream and corn syrup mixture to the caramel: it will fizzle, pop, and spurt. Stir until well combined, then add a little more and stir. Keep adding the cream a little at a time until all of it is incorporated.
Return the pan to medium-high heat and add the milk. Bring to a rolling boil and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry.
Bring back to a boil over medium-high and cook, stirring with a heatproof spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat. If any caramel flecks remain, pour the mixture through a sieve.
Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth. Add the vanilla and whisk. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes.
Pour into frozen ice cream maker canister and spin until thick and creamy.
Pack the ice cream into a storage container, press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.