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Salted Crème Fraîche Caramel Ice Cream

Jon
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| Servings: 1 to 1 ½ quarts

Author’s Note

Salted caramel is a new standard, and there is hardly an ice cream shop without their spin on this flavor. This version is finished with crème fraîche, which adds a bright dimension to the wonderfully deep flavor of the caramelized sugars. This recipe also features a dry caramel, whereby the sugar is added to a hot pan bit by bit. The flavor grows deeper and deeper as each successive spoonful of sugar is added, until you have a complex layered caramel.
Take extra caution when adding liquid to caramelized sugar — caramel can cause really bad burns! (I can show you the divots in my right forearm, where hot caramel landed over ten years ago.) The cream will sputter less if it’s warmed before it’s added to the molten sugar, but just in case, keep a little bowl of ice water at the ready. You can also take precautionary measures and cover your hand with an oven mitt or dish towel as you add the cream.
Crème fraîche can be purchased from a grocery store, or you can make your own. The crème fraîche is acidic, and if you cook it with the ice cream base, it will curdle. Instead, wait to add the crème fraîche until the ice cream base has cooled completely. – Dana Cree author of ““Hello, My Name is Ice Cream: The Art and Science of the Scoop“.

Ingredients

  • Cream (20%) 200 g | 1 cup
  • Sugar (15%) 150g | ¾ cup
  • Milk (40%) 400g | 2 cups
  • Glucose syrup (5%) 50g | ¼ cup
  • Egg yolks (10%) 100g | 6 large yolks
  • Crème fraîche (10%) 100g | ½ cup
  • Sea salt 10g | 2 teaspoons
  • Cornstarch 10g | 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon, mixed with 20g | 2 tablespoons of cold milk (This is my texture agent of choice)

Instructions

  1. Make the caramel. Place the cream in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat, then remove it from the heat. Place a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat and sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sugar over the bottom of the pot. When the sugar has started to take on color, sprinkle 2 more spoons of sugar over the bottom of the pot and stir gently with a heatproof spatula. Continue this process, 2 spoonfuls at a time, until all the sugar has been added to the pot and the sugar is a deep amber. To test the color of the caramel, carefully dip the corner of a piece of white paper into it. When the color of the caramel is no lighter than a newborn fawn and no darker than a cup of black tea, remove it from heat and immediately add the warm cream, bit by bit, carefully avoiding any hot splatters that might come from the pot. Place the pot back over medium-high heat, and whisk until the caramel is smooth and even. Remove the pot from heat.
  2. Prepare an ice bath. Fill a large bow! two-thirds of the way with very icy ice water and place it in the refrigerator.
  3. Boil the dairy and caramel. Whisk the milk and glucose into the caramel. Cook over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally to discourage the milk from scorching. When the mixture comes to a full rolling boil. Whisk into the simmering dairy the cornstarch mixture and then cook for 1 minute.  Then remove the pot from heat.
  4. Temper the yolks and cook the custard. In a medium bowl, whisk the yolks. Add ½ cup of the hot dairy mixture to the yolks while whisking so the hot milk doesn’t scramble the yolks. Pour the tempered yolks back into the pot of hot milk while whisking. Place the pot over medium-low heat and cook, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pot constantly with a rubber spatula to avoid curdling.
  5. Chill. When you notice the custard thickening, or the temperature reaches 180°F on a kitchen thermometer, immedately pour the custard into a shallow metal or glass bowl. Nest the hot bowl into the ice bath, stirring occasionally until it cools down.
  6. Add the creme fraiche and salt, then strain. When the custard is cool to the touch (50°F or below), add the crème fraîche and salt, and stir until evenly combined. Strain it through a fine-mesh sieve to remove any bits of egg yolk. (Straining is optional, but will help ensure the smoothest ice cream possible.)
  7. Cure. Transfer the cooled base to the refrigerator to cure for 4 hours, or preferably overnight. (This step is also optional, but the texture will be much improved with it.)
  8. Churn. Place the base into the bowl of an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The ice cream is ready when it thickens into the texture of soft-serve ice cream and holds its shape, typically 20 to 30 minutes.
  9. Harden. To freeze your custard ice cream in the American hard-pack style, immediately transfer it to a container with an airtight lid. Press plastic wrap directly on the surface of the ice cream to prevent ice crystals from forming, cover, and store it in your freezer until it hardens completely, between 4 and 12 hours. Or, feel free to enjoy your ice cream immediately; the texture will be similar to soft-serve.
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