Sunday, July 01, 2007

David Lebovitz's Salted Caramel Ice Cream

salted butter caramel ice cream

I think I'm trying to recreate Bi Rite Creamery in my kitchen this week. (Have I told you that I'm contemplating a special trip to San Francisco just to check this place out?) Last night it was Salted Butter Caramel (phenomenal), tonight it was Lemon Buttermilk Sherbet (very good) and tomorrow (or the next day) will be Vanilla Raspberry Swirl. I made the bases/syrups all at once, and they are - or were - waiting in the fridge.

I know, all of these desserts and not a chocolate one in sight - but I have to say, I think my preference may be to eat the chocolate on or under the ice cream, rather than in it. There's nothing better than a scoop of really good vanilla or creme fraiche ice cream with a side of Boulevard Hot Fudge, some warm caramel sauce, or a sprinkle of malt powder. Brandied cherries and toasted sliced almonds don't hurt either.

But I digress. I have to tell you how good this Salted Butter Caramel ice cream is. It's so good, that I actually became angry today - downright mad - when I finished the tiny afternoon spoonful that I allowed myself, and realized I'd have to wait until after dinner to taste it again. It's so good that I actually want to horde it and ration it out (which is not my usual m.o.) It's definitely the best ice cream I've ever made.

I saw the recipe a while ago on his blog, and looked for it in the book The Perfect Scoop - but it's not there. It's here and only here, as far as I can tell. It's a little more complicated than some other ice cream recipes because it requires the cooking of sugar not just once, but twice. It's really not difficult though, and it's sooo worth it. I promise.
caramel ice cream base

I did have a tiny bit of trouble getting mine to freeze. It took nearly an hour and was still fairly soft, but I suspect that could be due to one of two problems that are easily fixed. First, I might not have cooked my custard quite long enough. I have a tendency to overcook custards waiting for them to thicken, so I took it off at about 163 degrees. Next time I think I'd cook it about five degrees further.

The second (and more likely) possibility is that the base just wasn't chilled down quite enough when I put it in the freezer. It was a very hot day (at least 80 in the kitchen) and my ice water bath melted (as you can see above) so it didn't really do much to chill it down. I put it in the fridge for about two hours, and it was cool, but really the custard should be thoroughly chilled - eight hours or so is optimal unless your ice bath really works. Ultimately it came together, but I think it would be creamier if it hadn't churned for so long. (On the plus side, it's relatively soft straight out of the freezer!)

One suggestion I do have is to make the caramel for crushing right before you churn the ice cream. It gets very sticky after about an hour or so, and if I had chilled the base overnight, I would have had to figure out some way to store it. By morning, I suspect it would have been a sticky mess.
caramel in the pan

The Silpat was fantastic for this project - and David really isn't kidding when he says don't stop to scratch your nose before pouring out the caramel. I tried to stir in the salt, and the caramel burned in just that amount of time (you don't need to.) You have to stop when it's dark but NOT reddish - if it is, you've gone too far. The good news is that it's a quick process, so doing it over really isn't such a hardship (lucky for me). The picture above shows the caramel when it's almost there. Once it starts to darken, it happens fast.

The ice cream itself is creamy, buttery and sweet, with crunchy bits of burnt sugar and salt. It melts fast, and goes down even faster.

Too fast, if you ask me.

I used Maldon sea salt, organic milk and cream, and Plugra butter. Since the Plugra wasn't salted, I added an extra sprinkle of salt. I also added a couple of generous pinches during the cooling process to suit my personal taste.

I'll be back sometime soon with a catch up post about where I've been lately, and more about the farm tour. Have a good week everyone!


  1. I am assuming it was really good since you referred to it as crack.

  2. I want this book sooo much! I've been seeing David's recipes pop up everywhere and they're all getting rave reviews.

  3. looks amaaaaaaazing. god, i need to make that one!

  4. Cheryl - indeed it was. I just made another batch this morning and it wasn't quite as magical though - maybe it needed more salt.

    Brilynn - it's a good one! for some reason, the ice cream doesn't seem to freeze as hard as homemade ice cream sometimes does. Maybe it has something to do with the way you stir in part of the milk into the cooked custard? I'm not sure, but every recipe I've tried has been great.

    Maia - yes you do! :-)

  5. Yes, I wont be making this since I know I would eat it all the time! YUM.

  6. I have to make this ice cream, it looks and sounds amazing. And I have to get this book. I've heard nothing but rave reviews.

  7. we made this at Tante Maries and it was indeed wonderful. I wonder why he didn't put it in his book?

  8. Cool story as for me. It would be great to read more about that topic. Thanks for posting that material.
    Sexy Lady
    Escort services