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Caramel Ice Cream with Sea Salt

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Scoops of caramel ice cream in divided dish, close-up
David Munns/Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images
The combination of sweet and salty is an irresistible taste sensation, and some of the country's hottest pastry chefs have been playing with this combination. This recipe for caramel ice cream with sea salt is a complex explosion of flavors. Unlike many homemade ice creams, this ice cream is as good as, if not better, after some time in the freezer – the caramel and salt keep its texture soft and scoopable. It's imperative to use really good-quality flaky sea salt in this recipe – table salt or even kosher cooking salt just won't do. I like to use the brand Maldon.

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Cook Time: 18 minutes

Total Time: 58 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salted butter
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon good-quality flaky sea salt, such as fleur de sel, plus more for serving

Preparation:

  1. In a small saucepan heat the milk over medium-low heat until it's just about to simmer. Turn off heat but leave the milk on the burner.

  2. In a medium saucepan or saucier heat the sugar over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar melts and begins to turn golden brown. Stir unmelted sugar grains into the caramelized sugar and continue cooking until the sugar is completely melted and syrupy and a uniformly caramel color. Add the butter to the sugar, stirring to combine.

  3. Slowly add the warm milk to the caramel, stirring with a wooden spoon or a whisk until the caramel dissolves into the milk. The caramel will sizzle at first and might clump up, but over medium-low heat it will gradually melt into the milk.

  4. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the egg yolks, flour and salt, stirring with a whisk to combine. When the caramel-milk mixture is smooth and no clumps of caramel remain, gradually whisk the caramel-milk mixture into the egg mixture, about 1/4 cup at a time, whisking well after each addition. When nearly all the milk mixture has been tempered into the egg mixture, pour the combined ingredients back into the saucepan or saucier pan. Over medium-low heat, heat the mixture until it's thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon, stirring constantly with a whisk, about 5 minutes.

  5. Wash and dry the bowl that held the egg mixture, and pour the hot milk mixture through a colander into the bowl, straining out any bits of cooked egg. Let the mixture cool.

  6. Stir in the heavy cream and the vanilla and refrigerate mixture until completely chilled, at least 4 hours and preferably overnight.

  7. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. When the ice cream has reached the desired consistency, add 1 teaspoon flaky sea salt to the ice cream maker while it is running, so the salt gets stirred into the ice cream.

  8. Sprinkle a few flakes of sea salt over the scoops of ice cream before serving.

This recipe for Caramel Ice Cream with Sea Salt makes 8 to 10 servings.

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