On Sunday night we got to go to a special dinner at Gerrit’s parents’ house. Some of their friends from 20+ years ago, friends from when Gerrit’s dad was in the army and they lived in Germany, have just moved to town and we all had dinner together. Gerrit’s mom said she didn’t think they had seen each other for 17 years, but they’ve stayed in touch through the years and now they are all going to be living in the same town for a while (and they are so excited). And it was so special to get to watch them reconnect.
For Gerrit’s parents they were the kind of friends that were family during their army days, the kind of friends that I think you feel lucky to have in your life. We had those kinds of friends when I was a kid (and still do), and I hope that as our kids grow up they’ll be able to point to our friends and know they have strong support system that extends well beyond our biological family. I want my kids to know there are friends we can always call, friends who will always be there in good and bad, and whose kids will almost be like cousins.
I brought dessert for Sunday night. Gerrit wanted me to make brown-butter blondies, but I was really in the mood to try a new recipe. So, I decided on some ice cream to go with the blondies. And trust me, when I say “go with”, I mean really it. A brown butter blondie and a spoonful of salted caramel ice cream together make the perfect dessert bite.
My recipe makes 2 quarts, which was enough for 7 people that night plus plenty of leftovers the next day. And there is still some in my freezer, which is a dangerous thing to keep around the house. Especially when there is one more row of blondies left in the pan, too.
I have not always been a fan of caramel, but I think that's because I am not a fan of those little sticky caramel squares that I always got in my trick-or-treat bag at Halloween. No, caramel flavor is delicious and rich, and when you add in a bit of sea salt it creates a wonderfully complex ice cream flavor. The sweetness hits your tongue at first, and then the saltiness comes in along with the richness and you think, because it is so rich, you might not be able to handle another bite, but you keep going back for more. And if you want a dessert even more addictive, try pairing this ice cream with brown butter blondies.
- For the caramel:
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- For the ice cream base:
- 2 cups milk
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 6 large eggs
- Begin by making the caramel. Place the sugar in a large saucepan (you want a good amount of surface area on the bottom) and cook over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has turned a dark amber color.
- Pour the 2 1/2 cups of cream into the cooked sugar, stirring as you pour (it will sizzle and steam, and I find it helpful to wear a potholder on my stirring hand and stand back just in case). Continue to stir until smooth.
- Pour the caramel mixture into a medium-sized heat proof bowl. Stir in the sea salt and vanilla, and then set aside to let cool.
- Now on to the ice cream base. In a large saucepan, whisk together the milk, cream, and sugar. Place over medium heat, and bring just to a boil, stirring occasionally.
- Meanwhile, whisk the eggs together in a separate medium-sized bowl.
- When the milk/cream mixture is warm, begin ladling just a bit into the eggs, whisking constantly. Continue to add the warm milk mixture into the eggs, always whisking, until you've added about 1/3 of it. Then stir the eggs into the pot, whisking constantly. Cook the mixture until it reaches 170 degrees F. (Be sure not to let it boil!)
- Pour the ice cream mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a large bowl. Then stir in the caramel.
- Place the ice cream mixture in the fridge until thoroughly chilled, at least 3 hours. Then freeze the ice cream in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.
- Pour into a container and place in the freezer to firm up before serving.
adapted from epicurious