When I was finalizing the recipes in The Perfect Scoop, I wrote too many recipes and needed to make room for all the other stuff that goes into a cookbook. Although I did include a favorite recipe for Pear Caramel Ice Cream, which gets its smooth richness from caramelized pears, I decided since my first book had a great recipe for Caramel Ice Cream (that book was re-released as Ready for Dessert), I figured that recipe would suffice for caramel ice cream fans.
Then came along salted butter caramel, which back then, raised a few eyebrows. “Salt…in ice cream?” I heard more than once.
So today I’m re-presenting my very own recipe for Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream. I posted this about a decade ago, but I wanted to revisit it since so many people told me this was their favorite ice cream of all time. In this newer version I’ve reduced the sugar, which helps the ice cream firm up in the freezer, and made a few other tweaks.
Be sure to use good salt. I use fleur de sel, but if you don’t have it, a mild-tasting sea salt will do in a pinch, such as Maldon, fine gray salt, or kosher salt. Don’t use ordinary fine table salt; it’s far too harsh.In step 6, all of the caramel may not dissolve. Stirring it over very low heat should melt any stubborn bits. If not, don’t worry; they’ll be strained out later. Because of the caramel in this ice cream, once churned and frozen, it’ll remain nice & creamy.As noted, this is an update from a previous recipe which had 1 1/2 cups (300g) for sugar in the caramel custard, which some readers reported made the finished ice cream quite soft. I reduced it by 1/4 cup (50g). But if you like the caramel flavor stronger, you’re welcome to use 1 1/2 cups of sugar in step #5.
For the caramel praline (mix-in)
1/2 cup (100g) sugar
3/4 teaspoon sea salt such as fleur de sel (see headnote)
For the ice cream custard
1 cup (240ml) heavy cream
2 cups (480ml) whole milk, divided
1 1/4 cup (250g) sugar
4 tablespoons (60g) salted butter, cubed
scant 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
5 large egg yolks
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
To make the caramel praline, spread the ½ cup (100g) of sugar in an even layer in a medium-sized, unlined heavy duty saucepan: I use a 6 quart/liter pan. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or brush it sparingly with unflavored oil.
Heat the sugar over moderate heat until the edges begin to melt. Use a heatproof utensil to gently stir the liquefied sugar from the bottom and edges towards the center, stirring, until all the sugar is dissolved. (Or most of it—there may be some lumps, which will melt later.) Continue to cook stirring infrequently until the caramel starts smoking and begins to smell like it’s just about to burn. It won’t take long.