January 2, 2012

Vanilla Bean Salty Caramel Ice Cream

WARNING: This ice cream is extremely addicting! The vanilla and the caramel are the perfect duo. I served this alongside my Old Fashioned Apple Pie, and as good as the pie was, everyone came back to get second servings of the ice cream. I bought pint sized containers that I could fill with this ice cream to give out to friends and relatives during the holidays, and it was a wonderful gift. The ice cream is essentially two different recipes that are layered once completed. If using an ice cream machine where it is necessary to refreeze the canister, you can make both recipes on day one, freeze the vanilla in the ice cream maker on day one, and then freeze the caramel on day two.

3 cups half-and-half
2 cups sugar
8 egg yolks
3 cups heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean split and scraped

Heat the half-and-half, sugar, vanilla extract, and vanilla bean in a large saucepan over medium heat.

Whisk the egg yolks.

Pour half of the heated half-and-half mixture into the egg yolks while continually whisking (this is called tempering the eggs and will prevent them from cooking when added to the hot pan later).

Pour the egg mixture back into the large saucepan over medium heat. Continually stir with a rubber spatula until the mixture thickens (may take between 5 and 10 minutes). The mixture will become very thick, but stop cooking before you see any chunks of cooked egg visible.

Pour into bowl with heavy cream and stir until combined. Chill and then freeze in ice cream maker. I had to freeze in two batches, as all of the mixture would not fit in my ice cream maker.

Put the completed ice cream in the freezer and allow to get firmer overnight or for 8 hours.

Makes about 2 quarts.

1 1/4 cups sugar
2 1/4 cups whipping cream
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup whole milk
3 eggs

First, to make the caramel, heat 1 cup of sugar in a large saucepan. Use a long handles metal spoon to continually stir until the sugar turns dark amber. 

Add 1 1/4 cups whipping cream. The mixture will bubble and is very hot. Be careful not to burn your skin while continually stirring. 

Once all of cream and sugar is combined and most of the bubble dissipate, transfer to a glass bowl and add vanilla extract and sea salt. Allow to cool.

In a large sauce pan, heat while milk, 1 cup of whipping cream, and 1/4 cup of sugar just to a boil. 

Whisk eggs in a bowl. Add half of hot mixture to eggs while continually whisking. Once incorporated pour all of contents back into saucepan over medium heat and stir until liquid reaches 170 degrees (or until mixture begins to leave a thin film on rubber spatula). 

Pour contents of saucepan into a bowl. Stir in the caramel. Chill the mix and freeze in ice cream maker.

Place in freezer to allow to get firmer. The caramel ice cream is very rich and not as firm and icy as the vanilla. This is okay because when layered with the vanilla, it has the perfect texture to complement the texture of the vanilla ice cream.

Makes about 1 quart.

Layer the completed vanilla bean ice cream with the salty caramel ice cream. Use a rubber spatula to help spread the ice cream. 

Total yield: about 3 quarts.