Let’s talk about salted caramel. Such a simple-seeming treat with a list of ingredients you can cook on one hand. But so, so easy to make wrong! Just a few seconds too long on the stove and POOF! You’re looking as some nasty burned sugar. Or become too impatient and stir it? Well you’ll just end up with some weird flaky clumpy sugar (trust me… I know from experience).
Truthfully, I think the reason we might have trouble making caramel now is because society has trained us all to be so used to instant gratification. I mean take Amazon Prime. You can find practically anything you could think of and with the click of a button it will be delivered to your doorstep in 48 hours or less.
But caramel is all about patience. Kind of like croissants, but not quite to that extent. You have to, HAVE to be patient and trust that the sugar will cook like it’s supposed to and NOT MIX IT. Doesn’t sound like it would be that difficult, but I dare you to put a spoon next to the stewpot while you’re cooking and not feel the urge to stir. So against everything that tells you to stir, do not do it!
But don’t think that means you can walk away. Because the second it starts to turn brown, you’d better watch that caramel like a HAWK. It will go from bubbling sugar to burnt really quickly.
If you can give yourself a pep talk to not stir and not walk away, I promise you’ll have this salted caramel ice cream recipe done easily.
1¼ cups sugar, divided
4 tablespoons water
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup whole milk
6 egg yolks
½ teaspoon flaky sea salt
1. Set the stewpot to medium heat and add ¾ cup of the sugar and the water. Give it one good stir.
2. Let the caramel begin to cook, and DO NOT STIR no matter how tempting it might be.
3. Allow it to keep bubbling and cooking until it starts to change color. Once it starts to brown, watch the caramel very closely
4. Keep cooking until it is a deep brown color. You’ll know it is done when you can smell the typical caramel scent.
5. Add a small amount of the half-and-half and whisk immediately. Be careful because once you add the half-and-half the caramel will begin to get very bubbly.
6. Once it seems to have calmed, add the rest of the half-and-half, milk, and remaining sugar. Again if needed only add a little of the dairy at a time so it does not bubble too much.
7. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then whisk for about 5 minutes until the sugar is dissolved. DO NOT boil, just a gentle simmer.
8. Once the sugar is dissolved, remove the stewpot from heat.
9. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks.
10. While whisking, slowly pour about ⅓ of the milk mixture into the yolks.
11. When that ⅓ of milk and yolks are fully mixed, pour the yolk mixture back into the rest of the milk mixture and whisk.
12. Bring the pot back to a medium-low heat and cook gently until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes.
13. Run the caramel milk base through a fine mesh strainer about 3 times. You don’t want any lumps of caramel!
14. Chill the mixture in the fridge for about an hour.
15. Churn in the ice cream maker according to your manual’s instructions for about 40 minutes.
16. When the ice cream is the texture of soft serve, remove from the maker and transfer into a freezer safe container.
17. Add in the flaky sea salt and fold thoroughly with a rubber spatula until incorporated.
18. Cover with plastic wrap so that it touches the sorbet; not allowing air to touch the sorbet will stop ice crystals from forming on the surface
11. Set 2 hours to overnight in the freezer.