I would say that ice cream is relatively easy to make. It requires only a little stirring, some whisking, and low amounts of heat. What really anchors most ice cream recipes is the time spent in that helpful little kitchen tool, the ice cream maker. And what’s that all about? The ice cream maker is really one of the few tools that has only one function, to make ice cream, sorbets, and slurpees. To churn whilst freezing. Okay, maybe technically two functions.
But unlike most other tools, the blender, the food processor, my dearly beloved stand-up mixer Paulo (who lives far away in California), the ice cream can’t turn out a variety of foodstuffs. Only ice cream. And yet, it really is quite necessary for ice creamery.
Once you get your hands on an ice cream maker however, the possibilities for ice cream creation are endless. Since the base for ice cream is relatively easy to master, once you get going on the ice cream train, it’s hard to stop. On average, one carton of eggs can contribute to three different batches of homemade ice cream. A half gallon of milk makes about four batches of ice cream, as does a quart of cream.
You see, once you get going, it’s just really impractical to stop. Chances are, you have everything for ice cream in the kitchen already.
Today however, we’re going to focus less on the ease of making ice cream and rather on the ease of making a caramel. Caramel, one of the many beautiful things sugar transforms into. Nutty, golden, with wonderful toasted undertones, homemade caramel is a skill all should master, if only to have homemade caramel sauce consistently in the pantry. For David Lebovitz’s Salted Caramel Butter Ice Cream with Espresso, homemade caramel is everywhere. In the praline add in as well as in the base. In fact, the majority of the ice cream consists of homemade caramel.
Caramel, while perhaps daunting in theory, is really just melted sugar. And the trick to melting sugar is patience and attention. Sugar takes quite a while to get melted, but once it’s there it goes very quickly from lightly golden to deep amber. The trick, as it turns out, is to remove it from the heat as quickly as possible, and to stir in your cooler elements to halt the cooking.
For the caramel praline, all you have to do is remove the caramel from heat as soon as it turns a deep amber, sprinkle it with salt, and dump it onto a prepared pan. For the ice cream base, after you remove the caramel from heat you immediately whisk in butter, cream, salt, vanilla, milk, etc. The mixture will steam violently, so make sure to watch your hands. But here’s the thing. If you can master this ice cream, then you have the basics of caramel in your repertoire. Obviously, you should make this ice cream not only because it is delicious, but because it is clearly educational as well.
Recipe on the following page.