It’s already August and if you haven’t used your ice cream freezer yet, the time has definitely come. There are very few multi-generational activities that evoke as many summer childhood memories as making and eating ice cream. Those of us who are lucky enough to live in the Seattle area not only have access to all sorts of delicious ingredients for making our own ice cream, there are also several shops where you can buy hand-crafted locally made ice cream (I’ll give you a list at the end of this post). Think balsamic strawberry, Vivace coffee, fennel seed, Olympia marionberry even Estrella Farms “Partly Sunny Blue Cheese” with hazelnuts. With all of these tempting flavors locally available, why make your own? Because it’s fun and that’s what summer is supposed to be all about.
I chose to make Salted Caramel Ice Cream after seeing a recipe on gourmet. com. Granted, it’s a little on the sophisticated side for kids but with a couple of chocolate chips sprinkled on top, Lily was more than happy to be my taster. The complex flavor of this intriguing combo depends on getting the salty-sweet balance just right. Don’t be tempted to add a couple sprinkles of salt on top, this recipe is right-on just the way it is.
The first step is making a “dry” caramel which is basically melted sugar — tricky because it is super-hot and reportedly hard to control. If you pay attention during this fairly fast process and don’t try to multi-task, it’s surprisingly easy and gorgeous to look at. My custard, on the other hand, turned into sweet scrambled eggs on my first go-round. I now think that was because I was using raw milk (from Dungeness Valley Creamery). I’ve since noticed that raw milk tends to thicken faster, even when heating it for my tea. I can’t find any evidence to document this as a problem in general when cooking with raw milk. It certainly tastes great but I had to toss my first batch of custard. Second time around, I added the hot milk to the eggs VERY slowly and had much better results.
Salted Caramel Ice Cream Recipe
1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
2 1/4 cups heavy cream, divided
1/2 t flaky sea salt
1/2 t vanilla extract
1 cup whole milk
3 large eggs
Heat 1 cup sugar in dry, large heavy skillet (using a light color skillet allows you to see the color of the caramel more easily) over medium heat, stirring with a fork to heat sugar evenly, until sugar starts to melt. Once it’s melting, stop stirring, pick up the pot (using pot holders, of course) and swirl it around so the sugar melts evenly. It’s done when all the sugar is melted and it’s a dark amber color.
Add 1 1/4 cups cream and cook, stirring until all the caramel is dissolved. When you first add the cream, the caramel may initially become a big lump. Don’t worry, just keep stirring and it will eventually dissolve. Remove from the heat, transfer to a bowl, add sea salt and vanilla and let cool to room temperature.
Bring milk, remaining cup cream and remaining 1/4 cup sugar just to a boil in a small heavy saucepan, stirring occasionally.
Lightly whisk eggs in a medium bowl, then add half of the hot milk mixture in a very slow stream, whisking constantly. Slowly pour this mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining milk over medium heat. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until it thickens and coats the back of the spoon. Pour custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl. Stir in cooled caramel.
Chill custard several hours (3-6), stirring occasionally, until very cold.
Freeze with ice cream freezer following the freezer directions. Once it’s frozen, transfer to an airtight container and store in the freezer to firm up. It will keep about 1 week.
List of Hand-Crafted Ice Cream in the Seattle Area
Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream – Molly has shops in Wallingford and Capitol Hill. Every time I’ve driven by the Wallingford shop there’s a line out the door so it must be really good. They “combine creamy dairy from happy, healthy, hormone-free Western Washington cows with sweet and savory ingredients” and “focus on seasonal fruits and herbs.”
Poco Carretto Gelato is a “mobile gelato cart that offers up to 10 delicious gelato and 6 sorbetto flavors using local and organic ingredients made by Chef Holly Smith of the award winning restaurant, Cafe Juanita.” They sell at several farmers markets and cater private events.
Bluebird Homemade Ice Cream and Tea Room This neighborhood cafe and ice creamery on Capitol Hill is focused on bringing people together. Their ingredients are “almost entirely local, organic whenever possible.”
Empire Ice Cream Once again, local and organic rules. You can find them at the Ballard Sunday Farmers Market, the University District Farmers Market, Eat Local and the Paragon Restaurant & Bar.
Half Pint Ice Cream ” A small, owner-operated homemade ice cream company.” Their “ice creams are made fresh weekly with local dairy and eggs and other local ingredients when possible.” They sell at several farmers markets in our area.
I hope I haven’t left any one out. I know there are others not that far from home because every time I go to Orcas Island I pick up at least one flavor of Lopez Island Creamery Gourmet Ice Cream. Yum!