Tuesday, May 4, 2010

TWD:Burnt Sugar Ice Cream

This week's TWD recipe, Burnt Sugar Ice Cream, combines two techniques that have caused me significant angst over the past two years: (1) making caramel, and (2) making custard. I knew this ice cream would be good if I got it right, but the chances of that seemed so remote that I almost skipped it.

My big problem with custard early on was that I didn't have any experience with it, so I really didn't know what it was supposed to look like when it was ready to come off the heat. Therefore, I was overly reliant on my (unreliable) thermometers, which consistently did me wrong. As I failed and failed again, I became an expert on what custard looked like right before the point of failure, so I felt more confident going into this that I would catch it in time and maybe, just maybe, not fail.

My main problem with caramel is that as soon as sugar starts boiling in my house, I think of one hundred other things that I need to be doing. Something about sugar boiling makes me ambitious (to do things other than watch the sugar). This time, I decided that if I needed to glue my feet on the floor in front of the stove, I would not walk away from the boiling sugar.

Keep your eyes on me. Yes, you.

Seriously? The laundry has been sitting in the dryer for two days! It can wait another ten minutes.

Do. Not. Go. Check. The. Mail.

How about you call and make that hair appointment AFTER you don't burn the caramel?

You know, I wouldn't worry as much about other people trying to take pictures while doing this, but you? You really need to put the camera down.

That's deep amber enough - next step!!

The next step is to lower the heat and add milk and cream, at which point Dorie warns us that things will get a little wild, what with all the bubbling and seething and hardening of caramel. All of the above did happen, but just as Dorie says it will, the hardened caramel smooths out as you continue to heat and stir. At that point you temper an egg yolk/salt mixture with the warm caramel/milk mixture, add the rest of the caramel/milk to the eggs, return all of it to the pan and cook over medium heat until the custard reaches between 170 and 180 degrees. I knew better than to rely on a thermometer to test for doneness, so I used the "spoon test" (the custard coated the back of a spoon); the "track test" (when I ran my finger down the bowl of the spoon, the custard did not run into the track); and the "instinct denial test" (in which my instincts told me to cook the custard for a few more minutes, and I ignored them).

The results - perfect custard!! Woo hoo!! This ice cream base tasted incredible. I could barely wait for it to chill sufficiently so I could churn it. In fact, I probably churned it a little sooner than I should have - it just couldn't chill fast enough for me.

My husband likes a lot of the desserts I have made, but I think this ice cream might have been his all-time favorite. He just could not take a bite without offering up a new compliment. I bake for praise, so I was all over that. I loved the ice cream too -- I found it to be veeeeeerrrry sweet, so sweet that I added hot fudge to my bowl to cut the sweetness a bit:

You know something is sweet when hot fudge neutralizes the sweetness. Still, this was far and away the best ice cream I've ever made, and possibly the best I've ever tasted. I sure hope that the caramel/custard success wasn't a fluke, because I can't wait to make this again.

Becky of Project Domestication chose the Burnt Sugar Ice Cream. Great pick Becky!


Audrey said...

Yesterday at work, a new employee playfully insulted one of the muckety-mucks at a staff meeting, and the chief muckety-muck said that proved we were now working as a TEAM. (Not so much, other than that, ma'am.) Anyway, maybe your testy caramel went to the same business school, since you two obviously ARE working well as a team! Congrats! I haven't made caramel since we made peanut brittle in eighth grade, so I'm very impressed!

Kayte said...

Yahoo, you mastered the whole caramel, custard thing...so happy for you. Important enough for your resume, definitely. Love the little pink ruffled bowl, never see enough of that. I figured people would be chocolate-ing up things a bit this week. I'm ready for it, but I can see that wonderful ice cream peeking out and it looks marvelous!

Leslie said...

YAY!! I'm so glad you conquered the caramel jinx! I am so distracted in the kitchen (laundry, mail, cats being just a few of the distractions) but I never allow myself to leave sugar on the stove. Way to go (and I was telling M. last night that this ice cream needs hot fudge).

Jess said...

Dang, that looks good. I will make this the minute my ice cream maker is unpacked. And yes, I too have been known to multitask in the kitchen, with disastrous results.

Anne said...

Awesome job Cathy! Your ice cream looks perfect and I love the pink bowl. I'm going to try again- your husband's comments inspired me!

Nancy/n.o.e said...

Shoot, I can burn sugar on the stove without walking away! Love your talking boiling sugar and I'm glad you listened to it and not to those pesky thermometers (or that instinct, which would have left you with scrambled eggs, no doubt). Very cool that this is D's favorite TWD recipe. So glad you made it!!

Mary said...

I always find something else to do too when there's caramel on the stove! Glad it worked for you--your ice cream looks great!

Tracey said...

Oh I can so relate Cathy - I walked away from my boiling sugar no fewer than 3 times to check my email, the score of the Bruins game, water my herbs.... I am convinced I don't have the capacity to focus on just one thing at a time. In any event, I'm so glad you had success with both the caramel and the custard this week! Though we didn't love the ice cream at our house, I think it's because we're just not caramel ice cream people. Glad it was so delicious - it really looks wonderful in your cute bowl.

Katrina said...

I did and said the same thing, add chocolate to cut the sweetness! Good stuff. Way to made the caramel and custard. Love your caramel commentary!

Di said...

I love the ongoing commentary on the caramel pictures. =) Congratulations on conquering both caramel and custard! Your ice cream looks delicious--love the bowl, as always.

Nickki said...

LOL! Love your little commentary along with the pictures :-)

Your ice cream looks delicious. We all love it here!

dharmagirl said...

love your post, cathy. i too dread the two C's, though custard is becoming more and more comfortable to make.

this ice cream was delicious after a lasagne dinner last night:)

Tia said...

how beautiful! that pink bowl is simply adorable. I need one... where did you get it?

Rebecca said...

Love you pink bowl! I was totally intimidated by the custard and the caramel process, but yours looks great

TeaLady said...

Way to go with the custard. Easy once you do it right once.

Too funny post!! LOL

spike. said...

love the instinct denial test! I should try that one sometime.

Mary Ann said...

I love your pictures! I had to laugh when I read about you always wanting to do other things as soon as you start your caramel.
After all the rave reviews, I actually made this tuesday night and was thinking about you when I was watching the caramel.
Pretty pics.
And it was really good!

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