Is it ice cream weather with you?
Let me rephrase that: Isn’t it ice cream weather with you?
As you probably know, this month is in celebration of Hannah’s wonderful new book, Season of Salt and Honey. We’ve given you honey pie, novel-themed music , a contest for fabulous books and now… ice cream to read by.
Remember the pirate craze of a few years ago? The ubiquitous Halloween costumes, the not-so-punny greeting cards, the jokes about raucous letters of the alphabet (What’s a pirate’s favourite letter? Arrr!). We all love a good pirate, says I. [Especially the pirate-attributed epithets and euphemisms–please, I beg you, check out this pirate insult generator right now. Go. I’ll wait.]
I think that’s why I love food that’s even vaguely piratic-sounding. Which, admittedly, has little to do with Hannah’s book, but is entertaining nonetheless. This ice cream has little to do with actual pirates and, happily, there are no dogs in it either. But lest you be disappointed and about to click over to some hilarious cat video, it does star caramel, the salted kind, and chocolate, the dark kind, and hazelnuts of the toasted variety. Which is going to be way better than a cat in an elevator, trust me. AND, it pairs up well with Season of Salt and Honey with its caramel-honey tones, and salt undercutting the sweetness. And dare I say the hazelnuts add a crunchy contrast that adds texture–complexity of character, if you will?
I know not everyone has an ice cream maker at home. If you know someone who will lend you one, try it. Homemade ice cream is a thousand times better than store-bought. And you can add whatever you please to invent jolly flavours like this one, me hearties.
I’ve included Jeni’s original description of the dry burn technique for making caramel because it can be tricky and I don’t trust myself to explain it any better than she does. After that, I use her basic recipe but take a few liberties and short cuts and then wander down the garden path with the chocolate and the hazelnuts. You can find the unadulterated recipe here.
Salty Dog Ice Cream (aka Salted Caramel with Chocolate Freckles and Toasted Hazelnuts)
Adapted from Jeni Bitten Bauer’s Salted Caramel Ice Cream
Caramel Ice Cream:
2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon plus
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) cream cheese, softened
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons light corn syrup (I use golden syrup here)
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Dark Chocolate Bombe Shell:
Good quality dark chocolate
Toasted hazelnuts, chopped
Danger! This is the dry-burn technique. Caramelizing sugar dry means it goes faster, but you have to watch it more closely and be ready with your cream. Here is an overview of what you are going to do:
Stand over the pan of sugar with a heatproof spatula ready, but do not touch the sugar until there is a full layer of melted and browning liquid sugar on the bottom with a smaller layer of unmelted white sugar on the top. When the edges of the melted sugar begin to darken, use the spatula to bring them into the center to help melt the unmelted sugar. Continue stirring and pushing the sugar around until it is all melted and evenly amber in color — like an old penny. When little bubbles begin to explode with dark smoke, give the sugar another moment and then remove from the heat. Immediately but slowly pour about 1/4 cup of the cream and corn syrup mixture into the burning-hot sugar. Be careful! It will pop and spit! Stir until it is incorporated, then add a bit more cream and stir, then continue until it is all in.
Mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry.
Whisk the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth.
Mix the cream with the corn syrup in a measuring cup with a spout.
Heat the sugar in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat until it is melted and golden amber in color (see note above). Remove from the heat and, stirring constantly, slowly add a bit of the cream and corn syrup mixture to the caramel: It will fizzle, pop, and spurt. Stir until well combined, then add a little more and stir. Keep adding the cream a little at a time until all of it is incorporated.
Return the pan to medium-high heat and add the milk. Bring to a rolling boil and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry.
Bring back to a boil over medium-high and cook, stirring with a heatproof spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat. If any caramel flecks remain, pour the mixture through a sieve.
Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth. Add the vanilla and whisk. Cool the mixture in the saucepan, or another container, in the fridge until cold throughout. If it gets a skin, just stir it in; I find it doesn’t affect the texture of the ice cream.
To make the chocolate bombe shell:
Melt the chocolate carefully on the stove or in the microwave, then melt the coconut oil by adding it to the warm chocolate and stirring. This keeps in a jar in the fridge for at least a month. You can easily halve the recipe as well.
Pour into your ice cream maker and spin until almost done—soft serve consistency. At this point, pour the cooled chocolate bombe shell sauce into the still-churning ice cream to create small bits—freckles—of frozen chocolate. Continue churning until the ice cream is slightly firmer, about 1 minute.
Pack the ice cream into a storage container, adding toasted chopped hazelnuts between each layer, or however much you like. Press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid.
Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.