If you have a soft spot for sweet smooth custard served cool with a hard crack sugar shell... this is the ice cream for you. Part of the appeal of the classic French dessert is in the fact that the custard remains cool while the top is exposed to extreme heat to caramelize the sugar. Saucy got to thinking... what if an ice cream could have the same appeal... but be even colder?
It worked. The ice cream is a super-smooth, creamy treat. It has a different consistency of regular ice cream. You might think that since most ice creams are frozen custard, that would be the way to make an ice cream inspired by custard. Saucy thought not. Simply freezing a vanilla custard would be - vanilla ice cream. This needed to have a somewhat different base.
The impact of creme brulee dessert comes from the burned sugar crust. The name actually means "burned cream" in French. Saucy decided to adjust her usual ice cream custard recipe and incorporate a heavily caramelized, almost burned sugar and cream mixture to it.
It sounds trickier than it is, really. This is what you'll need:
3/4 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 cup heavy cream
4 large egg yolks
pinch of salt
1 and 1/2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
In a heavy saucepan, combine the 3/4 cup sugar, the water and the lemon juice. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring with a wooden spoon until the sugar dissolves, one or two minutes. Stop stirring at this point and cook until the syrup is amber, 5 - 6 minutes (longer if necessary). Swirl, but don't stir the mixture to ensure even cooking. Watch it closely to avoid burning. If it burns, discard and start over.
Remove the pan from heat. Gently pour 3/4 cup of the cream into the hot syrup, taking care not to splash yourself. Stir with a long-handled wooden spoon until smooth. Place over medium heat and cook until bubbles form around the edges of the pan, about five minutes. Remove from the heat, cover, and set aside.
Meanwhile, combine the egg yolks, salt and the two tablespoons sugar with the remaining 1/4 cup cream in a bowl. Whisk until smooth. Stir in the milk.
Pour the milk mixture into the warm caramel and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon and keeping the custard at a low simmer, until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 4 - 6 minutes. Do not let the custard boil.
Remove from heat and strain through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl. Stir in the vanilla.
Place the bowl in a larger bowl that has been partially filled with ice cubes and some water. Stir occasionally until cool. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly on the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled, at least overnight or up to 24 hours.
Pour the custard into an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturers directions. Usually this will mean churning in the machine until it is partially frozen; transfer into a freezer-safe container with a lid and place in the freezer where it will fully freeze at least three hours or up to three days before serving.
This ice cream is especially smooth - just like creme brulee - because it is strained before freezing. Because of the real caramel base, it freezes a little differently than regular custard-based ice creams. It has more of a gelato texture, which is perfect.
Serve in little baking ramekins if you have them.
There are two ways to make the hard crack sugar for presenting this dessert. Saucy sprinkled white sugar into a saucepan lined with tinfoil and used her little blow torch to burn the sugar until it was dark amber.
You can, if you don't have a blow torch, put 1/4 cup white sugar and 2 tablespoons of water into a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat, swirling and not stirring the mixture. Bring to a rolling boil and watch carefully. Keep cooking and swirling the pan and eventually the mixture will turn amber. Once it begins to turn amber, watch it carefully. It can burn in the blink of an eye - you want it almost burned, but not quite. When the amber shade deepens, remove from heat and gently pour the burning (yes, burning - so watch yourself) sugar onto a tinfoil-lined pan, shiny side up. Move the pan gently from side to side to allow the sugar to spread out a little bit. Let it cool and harden at room temperature, then crack it into pieces to decorate your ice cream.