Friday, November 23, 2012

Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream

With the hoiday season now upon us, calories, thankfully, don't count.  At least that's what I keep telling myself every time I tuck into a luscious bowl of Captain Greg's Salted Caramel Ice Cream...

You may remember my gelato loving neighbor, Captain Greg, who provided us with some fabulous concoctions over the last year.  My personal favorite?  The Peanut Butter Cup Chocolate Chunk Gelato.  Filled with chocolate chunks and chopped peanut butter cups, the creamy gelato brought a minefield of goodness.  The end of summer, and ever so popular Plum Perfect Gelato made its rounds featuring plums harvested from Greg's tree with the help of some young neighbors, and the Lemon Lime version?  Tangy and reminiscent of a perfect margarita (minus the tequila), Captain Greg has what it takes to make people smile.

One of the kindest and most giving people I know, Greg is the Captain of a local Team in Training Chapter for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  Mentoring new members as they begin their marathon training, Captain Greg provides the positive support that keeps these runners moving and a love of life that is contagious to everyone he touches.  Included in that verve for life, Greg also has a touch with Gelato and other frozen concoctions that doesn't disappoint.

Join me as we sit with Greg while he chats up his newest creation!

Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream

Salted Butter Caramel Gelato Ice Cream...

So if you love gelato, I have got some bad news for you.  My love of gelato knows no bounds, and nothing thrills me more than designing a confectionery treat that exploits the intensity of this frozen churned dessert.  Its perfect consistency packed with flavors as limitless as your imagination begs me to be bold.  And it’s been sheer joy to take a familiar blast of citrus or a childhood memory of peanut butter and chocolate, then overlay it with chocolate chunks or a candy extravagance.  And viola, it’s gelato on steroids!  But this time, I failed.  Regrettably, undeniably failed…

Following the age-old Tuscan tradition of custard-based recipes, I allowed myself to dream of a Salted Butter Caramel Gelato.  I set out to capture the caramel essence of Crème Brulee infused with praline bits and a kiss of sea salt.  The vision: a ying and yang of salty-sweet perfection.  Well perfect it is, but gelato it ain’t.  One small problem got in the way:  Butter.  Sweet wonderful butter.  Kind of the mortal sin of gelato purity that tilts the scale to it’s sultry sister: “Ice Cream”!

Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream
Self-righteous gelato connoisseurs, you can protest loudly until you taste this exuberance of sophisticated sweet and salt!  Just one generous scoop and you’re hooked.  Its trademark prominence of flavor, rich and smooth, married with the freshest ingredients and salty undertones makes this an intense and wonderful recipe.

But I gotta’ call it the way it is:  it’s Ice Cream.   My Salted Butter Caramel Gelato Ice Cream bursts with sweetness and the mellow signature of barely-browned butter and sugar.  And bits of salted praline dazzle the flavor with a brittle crunch.  For a moment, put your smug pretensions of gelato purity aside and dig into ice cream Heaven.  It is seriously Good!  Thank God for the Butter!

Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream
Recipe copyright Greg Dowell, photos by Liv Life

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3 cups whole milk
3 cup heavy whipping cream
8 large egg yolks
6 cup sugar
8 Tbsp salted butter (1 Stick)
1 ½  tsp salt (I suggest Trader Joe’s Sea Salt – Fine Crystals)
Makes 2 Quarts

Salted Caramel Praline
Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat.

In a medium-sized heavy saucepan or skillet, spread 1 cup of sugar and gently stir over medium heat.  As the sugar begins to liquefy, gently stir it from the edges to the middle of the pan.

Heat until the caramel mixture is dissolved and starts smoking (don’t let it burn).  Don’t worry if a few sugar lumps remain.  Stir in 3/4 tsp of salt.

 Immediately pour the salted caramel mixture onto the baking sheet and tilt it to allow the mixture to form as thin of a layer as possible.  Refrigerate to harden.

Transfer the cooled praline into a ziplock bag and crumble into ½ inch bits using a rolling pin or kitchen mallet.  Return to the refrigerator until needed.

Salted Caramel Ice Cream Mix
Separate the egg yolks and lightly beat with a wooden spoon.  Combine yolks with 2 cups of sugar, stirring until the mixture is creamy, pale yellow and very thick.

Heat the milk and cream in a large saucepan until steaming, then whisk it into the yolk and sugar mixture.  Cook over a low heat stirring constantly until thick enough to lightly coat the back of a wooden spoon. Remove the custard from the heat.

In a separate saucepan (6 Quart), repeat the caramelizing method described above, combining 3 cups of sugar and 3/4 teaspoon of salt.  Remove from the heat and stir in the butter.

Gradually whisk in the warm custard mixture, stirring constantly.
Strain the caramel custard mixture into a large bowl through a fine mesh strainer.  Cool completely in the refrigerator (at least two hours).
Process in an ice cream maker.

Turn the ice cream into medium Tupperware, filling it halfway then sprinkling in some of the crushed praline bits.  Fill the remainder of the container, sprinkle on more, then swirl it with a chilled bread knife to disperse the bits.  Stir as little as possible.  Cover and freeze at least 24 hours.

The praline bits may melt slightly, but that’s O.K.  It will enhance the flavor and texture when scooped.

Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream


  1. Oh my gosh. I wanted this before I did any reading, but after reading Captain Greg's description, I just want to dive into that bowl. Heavenly.

  2. Wow, I don't care what you call it, this looks wonderful! I love everything about it, the flavor, color, texture, you-name-it!

  3. rich and decadent...looks wonderfully creamy!

  4. Oh my yummy goodness!! I LOVE IT! Amazing job, Captain Greg!

  5. 3 cups heavy cream and 3 cups whole that's ice cream!


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