Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream

Master dessert man and author of amazing books such as Ready for Dessert and The Perfect Scoop, David Lebovitz created this recipe when asked to by a devoted fan. He is a godsend. And funny, too.

Jut make sure to use a fine kosher or, preferrably, a good sea salt. Regular table salt is just a bit too harsh here.

Final note: Mr. Lebovitz describes his ideal for making a good caramel as "[Taking] it to the edge of darkness, then stop it there with the addition of a few pats of salted butter." I love that. "The edge of darkness." Caramel should be very slightly burnt, but not actually burnt, and if it doesnt get to that point, it'll be nothing but sugar syrup. You'll know when it's right, but keep a close eye on it. Sugar melts faster than you might think.


For the Caramel-Praline Mix-In:

1/2 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon sea salt, such as fleur de sel

For the Ice Cream Custard:

2 cups whole milk, divided
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 tablespoons salted butter
scant 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cups heavy cream
5 large egg yolks
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract


To make the caramel praline, spread the 1/2 cup of sugar in an even layer in a medium-sized, heavy duty saucepan. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or brush it sparingly with unflavored oil (I used Canola which worked perfectly).

Heat the sugar over moderate heat until the edges begin to melt. Use a heatproof utensil to gently stir the liquefied sugar from the bottom and edges towards the center, stirring, until all the sugar is dissolved. (Or most of it—there may be some lumps, which will melt later.)

Continue to cook stirring infrequently until the caramel starts smoking and begins to smell like it’s just about to burn. It won’t take long.

Without hesitation, sprinkle in the 3/4 teaspoon salt without stirring, then pour the caramel onto the prepared baking sheet and lift up the baking sheet immediately, tilting and swirling it almost vertically to encourage the caramel to form as thin a layer as possible. Set aside to harden and cool.

To make the ice cream, make an ice bath by filling a large bowl about a third full with ice cubes and adding a cup or so of water so they’re floating. Nest a smaller metal bowl (at least 2 quarts/liters) over the ice, pour 1 cup of the milk into the inner bowl, and rest a mesh strainer on top of it.

Spread 1 1/2 cups sugar in the saucepan in an even layer. Cook over moderate heat, until caramelized, using the same method described above.

Once caramelized, remove from heat and stir in the butter and salt, until butter is melted, then gradually whisk in the cream, stirring as you go.

If the caramel hardens, return it to the heat and continue to stir over low heat until any hard caramel is melted. Stir in 1 cup of the milk.

Whisk the yolks in a small bowl and gradually pour some of the warm caramel mixture over the yolks to temper them, stirring constantly. Scrape the warmed yolks back into the saucepan and cook the custard using a heatproof utensil, stirring constantly (scraping the bottom as you stir) until the mixture thickens.

Pour the custard through the strainer into the milk set over the ice bath, add the vanilla, then stir frequently until the mixture is cooled down. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.

Freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

While the ice cream is churning, crumble the hardened caramel praline into very little bits, about the size of very large confetti (about 1/2 inch).

Once your caramel ice cream is churned, quickly stir in the crushed caramel, then chill in the freezer until firm.

Then...enjoy, mon amis!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Maple Bread

I snagged this recipe from the always-awesome The Wednesday Chef who in turn adapted it from this Florence Fabricant article from the late 1980's. That was a good decade. I was born, this bread was written about, and MJ and Madonna rocked the airwaves. Happy baking!

Makes 1 large loaf


1 cup milk
1/4 cup maple syrup
4 tablespoons sweet butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 package active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
1 teaspoon sugar or maple sugar
1 egg beaten
4 cups (approximately) unbleached all-purpose flour (or a combo of wheat and white)


Place milk, maple syrup, butter and salt in a saucepan and scald. Allow to cool to lukewarm.

Dissolve yeast in warm water along with the sugar. Set aside for five minutes until the mixture becomes frothy. Transfer the milk mixture to a large bowl, stir in the yeast mixture and then stir in the egg.

Stir in two cups of the flour. Then add more flour about one-half cup at a time until a ball of dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead for about eight minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic, adding more flour as necessary to keep the dough from sticking. Place dough in an oiled bowl, turn the dough to oil on all sides, cover lightly and set in a warm place (I usually use the top of my stove, with the oven turned on) to rise until doubled, about an hour.

Punch down dough, turn onto a lightly floured board and knead for another minute or so. Roll dough into a rectangle about nine by 12 inches, then roll tightly, jellyroll fashion, starting from the narrow side. Pinch the seam and ends closed. Fit the dough seam side down into a greased bread pan.

Cover and set in a warm place to rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place bread in the oven and bake about 45 minutes, until well browned. Remove from pan and allow to cool, then slice up. I usually wait a solid 5-8 minutes to slice off a hunk. It's just too good to resist, but try if you can.