Brown sugar ice cream with a bitter caramel swirl


It’s hot here in my corner of France. After the summer disguised as fall that we’ve been experiencing for the last few weeks, temperatures finally got above 90° this week. Not that I really needed the excuse of heat to make my first ever real home-made ice cream. I talked about my family being here in my post for a delicious nectarine and lime curd tart. One of the many huge, wonderful, amazing perks of my mother coming was that she had decided to give me the ultimate gift for my birthday: a new Kitchenaid Artisan stand mixer. Let’s just take it as a given that I was beyond excited. I was ecstatic not only about the fact that I could finally make proper frosting, bread and cookies in the blink of an eye, but also because I had also ordered the ice cream maker bowl attachment.


During the weeks leading up to the trip, my mom had to tell me what my big birthday gift was going to be because she knew that if she didn’t, I might end up buying myself one before she got the chance. After initial squealing, we started talking about all the delicious things we were going to make when she got here. She sent me several recipes for ice cream, and I bookmarked all of them. The first few days of her visit were spent in Paris, and the last week or so at my place in Normandy, anxiously awaiting the delivery of my mixer. Unfortunately we found out when we ordered that the ice cream maker wasn’t available right away, and thus our dreams of home-made frozen delights came to an abrupt end.


I did manage to put the machine to good use while the family was here by making double chocolate macarons that I’ll blog about later. Since they left, I also used it extensively to make this divine boozy chocolate and hazelnut cake for my birthday. And then IT arrived. And finally it was hot out. I was home alone and needed some inspiration. After a few minutes of browsing, I decided on brown sugar ice cream (yum!) with a caramel swirl (double yum!). It seemed like the perfect balance of something not too extravagant and yet surprising and sweet.


I set out to make it right away, and was amazed at how easy it was. Yes, tempering eggs can be scary, but it’s actually nothing to worry about it. Two ice creams down and not a single eggy lump. My advice is not to fret about it. Just pour slowly and steadily, make sure your bowl is anchored down and whisk away. It was also incredibly delicious. The ice cream itself was subtle and not too sweet. The brown sugar wasn’t obvious. And the bitter caramel swirl? Genius. I think you should make this ice cream right away, before summer slips away!


Brown sugar ice cream with a bitter caramel swirl
Adapted from Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones via Epicurious

Ice cream:
5 egg yolks
1/2 C brown sugar
1 3/4 C heavy cream
3/4 C milk
1/4 t salt

Caramel (will make more than you need, but goes great with salted dark chocolate, straight from the bowl!):
1/2 C sugar
3 T salted butter
1/2 C heavy cream

To make the ice cream, begin by beating the egg yolks and half of the brown sugar until well combined and slightly foamy. In a large saucepan, heat the cream, milk, salt and remaining brown sugar over medium high-heat. Once the mixture begins to simmer, lower heat to medium and begin to temper the eggs.

You will need to remove about 1/2 C of the simmering cream mixture and incorporate it slowly and steadily into your eggs. I recommend placing a heavy saucepan on your countertop and placing a kitchen towel inside it. Then place your bowl containing egg yolks on top of the saucepan; this should help to keep it from moving as you’ll be whisking and pouring at the same time and not able to hold it steady. Pour in the first 1/2 C of egg yolks and sugar, whisking constantly. Add a second dose, continuing to whisk. Your eggs are now tempered! Add this mixture back to the original saucepan and continue to cook, whisking often if not constantly, for about 6-8 minutes more, until the mixture is thick and coats the back of a spatula. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature before refrigerating for 2-3 hours. Once the mixture is completely cooled, follow your ice cream maker’s instructions.

For the caramel, place the sugar in a large saucepan over moderately high heat. You’re looking for a very deep burgundy color, but the line between bitter and burnt is very thin. You’ll want to swirl the sugar as it cooks to ensure that it browns evenly, and don’t hesitate to remove the pan from the heat periodically if it starts smoking to much or cooking too thickly. Once the sugar has completely dissolved and turned a deep mahogany color, add in the butter. Swirl to incorporate, using a wooden spoon if necessary. Remove from heat before adding the cream and swirling again. Let cool.

Once the ice cream is firm enough (slightly thicker than a milkshake), remove it from your ice cream maker and place 1/3 of it into the recipient that you’ll use to store it. Drizzle a few spoonfuls of caramel sauce over and repeat with the remaining ice cream and caramel. Using a knife, swirl through the ice cream to distribute caramel evenly. Freeze a little while longer until it reaches your desired consistency and enjoy!


12 thoughts on “Brown sugar ice cream with a bitter caramel swirl

  1. Pingback: Crème fraîche and vanilla bean ice cream | à l'américaine

  2. Pingback: Herb-roasted salmon with cherries and cherry tomatoes | à l'américaine

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