salted caramel ice cream

May I introduce you to one of my favorite sweets/ice creams/things to eat, period?

caramelized sugarcaramelized sugar after butter and cream are added

Yep, that’s burnt sugar. Like, cooked to the point where it starts smoking, and if you don’t do something about it within seconds, you’re ruined. I mean, it’s ruined. But it is pretty depressing to destroy a whole pan of sugar. So, what can you do once it starts smoking? Throw butter at it!

This part makes me really happy for some reason.

caramelized sugar as butter is added

This is where the caramel really roils. It’s almost like it’s saying, “REALLY? You burn me to the point of smoking, then throw salty grease at me? REALLY?! Not a smart move, lady!” When you try to tame it further by slowly whisking in some heavy cream, it might just roll over and die a.k.a. seize. No worries, though, you can return it to a low flame to melt any lumps.

Next you’ll temper some yolks, cook the custard to 170, then ice-bathe it. If possible, freeze your ice cream bowl for a couple of days beforehand, and definitely chill the custard to below 40. I’ve had problems getting this ice cream to freeze when I get impatient. Which is almost always. I haven’t proven this yet, but I believe I had an easier time with it when I used 1 cup of sugar versus 1 1/2.

1 cup of sugar=a slightly more bitter ice cream that, surprisingly to me, had undertones of coffee. Tasty.

1 1/2 cups of sugar=a slightly sweeter treat. But possibly more difficult to freeze? Tasty.

Decisions, decisions.

in the ice cream makerpink himalayan sea salt

Up there is a much-appreciated gift of pink himalayan sea salt. I feel so fancy! I’ve come to believe that caramel just isn’t caramel without salt. Last fall in New York (ahhh, fondest memories!) we happened upon the nunu chocolates booth at Madison Square Market. They had chocolate-covered salted caramels that were so good I ended up pushing my flight back the next day so I could go back to re-stock. That, and I had to get some amchoor powder from Kalustyans. New Yooooooooooork! (I kind of want to go back.)


Salted caramel ice cream. It’s good stuff.

a scoopa spoonful

If you really want to take this over the top into ridiculous territory, you could alternate layers of ice cream with swirls of caramel. Just throwing that out there. I used Trader Joe’s salted caramel sauce. Or there’s a good homemade version here.

caramel ice cream with a swirl of salted caramel sauce


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Salted Caramel Ice Cream (from David Lebovitz)

makes one quart

2 cups whole milk

1 to 1 1/2 cups sugar

4 tablespoons salted butter, room temperature

scant 1/2 teaspoon mild sea salt

1 cup heavy cream

5 egg yolks

3/4 teaspoon vanilla

Make an ice bath. Pour 1 cup of the milk into the inner bowl, then rest a strainer over the top. Set aside.

Spread sugar evenly over the bottom of a heavy 2-3 quart saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the edges begin to melt. Using a heat-proof spatula, gently stir the liquefied sugar from the bottom and edges towards the center. Stir occasionally until all the sugar is dissolved. If there are a few lumps, that’s okay, they’ll melt later. Soon the caramel will start smoking and smell like it’s about to burn. Be ready to remove it from the heat and quickly stir in the butter and salt, until the butter is melted. Then whisk in the cream.

The caramel may seize, but you can return the pan to the flame and stir over low heat until any hard lumps are melted. Stir in 1 cup of the milk.

Whisk the yolks in a small bowl, then gradually add about a half cup of the hot caramel mixture, whisking constantly to temper. Scrape the yolk mixture back into the pan of caramel. Cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly and being sure to scrape the bottom and edges, until the mixture thickens. It should be 160-170F.

Pour the custard into the awaiting strainer/milk/icebath. Stir until cool, then add vanilla. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled to under 40F.

Freeze mixture in your ice cream maker, then transfer to a container and freeze for a couple of hours, until firm.

7 responses to “salted caramel ice cream”

  1. sarah says:

    Lovely!! I made a similar recipe not too long ago and it was a huge hit! Looking forward to trying yours soon!

  2. Yum! What a playful swirl you’ve garnished with. This is a great finish to any impressive dinner party.

  3. RavieNomNoms says:

    Oh my goodness gracious!! That is like sinfully amazing! So gorgeous. I bet it tastes SO GOOD!

  4. Jenni says:

    Now I absolutely have to make this! Salted caramels are my favorite. We have a local chocolatier that makes Margarita Salted Caramels!!

  5. Sarah says:

    I love salted caramel! Great recipe!!

  6. Christy says:


    looks amazing, btw.

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