This is a lovely soft delicious Salted Caramel Ice Cream that’s so much better than anything I can get in the store. Homemade ice cream may be a bit of work, but it’s well worth the time and energy. Salted Caramel no longer has to be only a topping!
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Custard ice cream recipe
This type of custard-based ice cream that uses eggs, is technically called French ice cream, though I think that many Americans call it frozen custard. A custard ice cream is where you make a custard (a pudding-like dessert) base, cooking it on the stove with eggs and cream until it’s thick and rich. This custard is mixed into more cream and the flavorings.
Custard ice creams have a great texture. There are no icy crystals to get in the way of the creaminess and flavor. They tend to be richer, softer, and easier to eat than the no-churn or no-cook ice creams.
Custards require slow cooking and gentle heat in order to prevent separation, or curdling. For this reason, custards are often made in a double boiler, or a pan set over gently boiling water.
For this Salted Caramel Ice Cream custard base, you don’t have to do the double boiler method, so it does save a bit of time, but you need to make sure to watch and stir the custard constantly. To make sure it doesn’t curdle.
Homemade sauce or store-bought caramel topping?
I highly recommend making your own homemade salted caramel for this recipe. It’s buttery. It’s rich. It’s so good. And, you will be so happy with it.
But, if you want to save yourself a step, and I totally get that, you can easily use a jar of salted caramel sauce from the grocery store or from Amazon like this one. Go with a good brand, and if you can find it, go with a salted caramel sauce over a plain caramel. The added flavor will make a better end ice cream.
Salt in the salted caramel!
Fleur de sel is a salt that forms as a thin crust on the surface of seawater as it evaporates. I love the beautiful pure flavor that it has. Typically, it’s used as a finishing salt, meaning it’s sprinkled over the food right before serving.
But, in this ice cream I wanted that sweet pure flavor. Fleur de sel can be expensive, so if you want to use another salt, it will work just fine. Try to use a salt with a good flavor, like Kosher or sea salt, and avoid simple table salt which can have a metallic flavor.
Pretzel salt is nice big crystals of salt that look pretty and have a good clean taste.
Be sure to taste for the amount of salt in the cream mixture before you add it to the machine for final churning. I knew I wanted to garnish it with the large crystals of pretzel salt, so I went light on the salt inside the caramel ice cream.
Also, the level of salt in the caramel that you use in the recipe will effect the flavor, so again, I highly recommend you taste it before putting it in the ice cream machine to see if you’re happy with the salt level.
Where was salted caramel invented?
Salted caramel originated in France in the late 1970’s, by a chocolatier by the name of Henri Le Roux. Le Roux’s father, Louis, owned a pastry shop.
Because there was so much high quality salted butter in the region, Le Roux highlighted that ingredient by coming up with a salted butter caramel with crushed nuts.
More recently, Pierre Hermé, a Parisian pastry chef, invented a salted caramel macaron in the late 1990s. Bringing salted caramel to the popularity that it is today!
Why does sweet and salty taste good
Don’t ask, just eat!
But really, there are five primary tastes that our taste buds are able to pick up: sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami. The two flavors of sweet and salty combined, equals twice the flavor. Also, salt is a flavor enhancer, so it makes caramel taste even better.
Ice cream machine
I love my ice cream machine (this is the brand and model that I have now), and use it all the time. Even if I didn’t write a food blog, I would use it.
I’m currently on my second ice cream machine. My first one developed a scratch in the frozen bowl part, and the chemical liquid inside seeped out. So, treat those bowls with kindness. Never use anything metal in them. Clean them out as soon as possible after using, and store them in a cool dry place.
I just have one of the canister style ones. They’re less expensive and work great. And they take up less room that some of those big ones!
Just place the canister in the freezer until completely frozen. When you’re ready to make ice cream, remove the canister from the freezer, insert it into the machine along with the beater bar, turn the machine on, and pour the cream mixture into the canister.
Just to repeat, I always turn on the machine before adding the cream, because that way the beater bar won’t get stuck on any frozen bits of cream that may have already formed.
After the ice cream is made, you’ll want to store some of it in the freezer (you know, the amount you didn’t eat right then and there!). I love this ice cream container that you see in the picture. It’s insulated to help keep the ice cream soft and fresh.
Toppings or mix-ins
- Toasted pecans
- A drizzle of more caramel sauce
- Large grain salt like pretzel salt
- Hot fudge sauce
- Magic Shell
- Marshmallow topping
- Crumbled chocolate chip cookies
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Salted Caramel Ice Cream Recipe
Salted Caramel Ice Cream
- Place the milk, 1 cup cream, and sugar in a medium saucepan and bring just to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
- Whisk the eggs in a medium bowl just until frothy.
- Slowly add half the hot milk mixture to the eggs, whisking constantly as you pour the milk mixture in; then pour this mixture back into the saucepan.
- Place the saucepan back over medium-low heat, and cook the custard, stirring constantly, until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon; keep a close eye on it, as it should never come to a boil. When thick enough, the custard should register 170°F on a candy thermometer. Pour the custard through a fine-mesh strainer into a large bowl, and set it aside.
- Wash and dry the saucepan, and add the caramel, remaining ¼ cup cream, salt, and vanilla. Cook and stir the mixture over medium-low heat, until completely smooth, stirring often. Thoroughly stir the warm caramel into the warm custard, leaving no streaks. Cover the surface of the custard mixture with a piece of plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 or up to overnight.
Taste the cream mixture for salt, adding more if desired. Freeze the custard in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Transfer the finished ice cream to an airtight container and place it in the freezer until ready to serve. To serve: top with a sprinkle of pretzel salt and a drizzle of caramel, if desired.