When I first started seeing salted caramel treats popping up around LA, I loved it. I’ve always been a salty-sweet fan — as I kid, I’d sprinkle salt on top of my chocolate chip waffles — so the salted caramel trend was right up my alley, and I felt a bit special for being “in” on it. Now, it’s everywhere, and starting to feel a bit played-out. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t want to be an elitist, especially about something so tasty. It’s more that I think a dash of sea salt and a squirt of caramel onto any dessert dish is a cheap way of saying, “I’m hip to the culinary trends,” when you’re actually saying quite the opposite.
Still, the popularity of salted caramel speaks volumes about the power of the actual flavor profile. It’s popular for a reason, and that reason is that it is absolutely, undeniably delicious.
If you like salted caramel, homemade salted caramel ice cream is a must. It’s smoother than any gelato and richer than any caramel ice cream you can buy in a carton. If the final product isn’t salty enough for you, do like they do at Sweet Rose Creamery in Santa Monica: ditch the chocolate sprinkles and toss a pinch of sea salt over your ice cream instead.
Salted Caramel Ice Cream
Recipe from Epicurious
Yields 1 quart
1 1/4 cup sugar, divided
2 1/4 cup heavy cream, divided
1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt such as Maldon
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup whole milk
3 large eggs
1. Heat 1 cup sugar in a dry 10-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring with a fork to heat sugar evenly, until it starts to melt, then stop stirring and cook, swirling skillet occasionally so sugar melts evenly, until it is a dark amber color.
2. Add 1 1/4 cups cream (mixture will spatter) and cook, stirring, until all of caramel has dissolved. Transfer to a bowl and stir in sea salt and vanilla. Cool to room temperature.
3. Meanwhile, bring milk, remaining cup cream, and remaining 1/4 cup sugar just to a boil in a small heavy saucepan, stirring occasionally.
4. Lightly whisk eggs in a medium bowl, then add half of hot milk mixture in a slow stream, whisking constantly. Pour back into saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until custard coats back of spoon and registers 170°F on an instant-read thermometer (do not let boil). Pour custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl, then stir in cooled caramel.
5. Chill custard, stirring occasionally, until very cold, 3 to 6 hours. Freeze custard in ice cream maker (it will still be quite soft), then transfer to an airtight container and put in freezer to firm up.