So the plan was to make salted caramels and write about how easy it is to make them. I watched Ina Garten seamlessly make them on the Barefoot Contessa, and decided I should make them too. Ina says to use a candy thermometer to ensure that the mixture reaches a certain temperature, but I thought "I don't need the gear. I'm a really awesome cook." I should also add that I made them during the Holidays, and they turned out pretty good but not the perfect texture. Unlike in the book The Art of Eating In (the author establishes a pattern of worrying about ruining every dish she's cooking, but everyone always ends up loving it), I actually screw up the stuff I cook sometimes. This time around the caramel tasted addictively delicious, but even after spending 24 hours in the fridge, it didn't set.
I knew it wasn't acceptable to keep eating runny caramel by the spoonful, so I used it to make an ice cream flavor. I stirred together a quick ice cream base using this reliable recipe from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams, and I let it chill overnight.
Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 1/2 ounces cream cheese, softened (3 tablespoons)
- 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- Fill a large bowl with ice water. In a small bowl, mix 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch. In another large bowl, whisk the cream cheese until smooth.
- In a large saucepan, combine the remaining milk with the heavy cream, sugar, corn syrup and vanilla bean and seeds. Bring the milk mixture to a boil and cook over moderate heat until the sugar dissolves and the vanilla flavors the milk, about 4 minutes. Off the heat, gradually whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Return to a boil and cook over moderately high heat until the mixture is slightly thickened, about 1 minute.
- Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth. Whisk in the salt. Set the bowl in the ice water bath and let stand, stirring occasionally, until cold, about 20 minutes.
- Strain the ice cream base into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Pack the ice cream into a plastic container.
- Press a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the ice cream and close with an airtight lid. Freeze the vanilla ice cream until firm, about 4 hours.
I specifically chose this eggless base because the caramel was already very rich. When the ice cream was finished churning, I alternately layered ice cream and caramel in a freezer safe container until it was all gone. I would venture to say it was better than any ice cream you could buy at the grocery store. It was made with quality ingredients like grass fed dairy and real vanilla bean. The salty, buttery caramel layered with the creamy and cold ice cream was a texture sensation, and the vanilla flavor really stood out. It only lasted in the freezer for 2 days!
Ingredients Breakdown: Homemade Caramel Swirl Ice Cream vs. Edy's Slow Churned Caramel Delight
Homemade Ice Cream: Cream, Milk, Sugar, Light Corn Syrup, Corn Starch, Vanilla Bean, Salt
Edy's Ice Cream: Milk, Skim Milk, Sugar, Cream, Caramel Swirl (Sweetened Condensed Milk, Sugar, Corn Syrup, Water, Coconut Oil, Pectin, Salt, Baking Soda, Vanilla Extract), Corn Syrup, Whey Protein, Egg Yolks, Tapioca Maltodextrin, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Buttermilk, Mono and Diglycerides, Butter, Cellulose Gum, Natural Flavor, Baking Soda, Guar Gum, Carrageenan, Dextrose, Vitamin A Palmitate.