Fleur de Sel Caramel Ice Cream

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Everybody has their own unique ranking for Halloween treats.  The boxes of raisins, small bags of pennies and the toothbrush courtesy of the neighborhood dentist were, not surprisingly, my least favorite items as a child.  I mean, do those even qualify as treats?  Or as tricks?

What I wanted most, even more than the full-sized Snickers bars, the bags of M&Ms and the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, was a small slip of paper.  A slip of paper that entitled me to a free ice cream cone at Friendly’s.

The fact that these coupons provided delayed gratification was, in my mind, a bonus.  Because when all of the other candy was long gone, except for maybe a Necco wafer or two, there were still multiple trips to Friendly’s for a black raspberry ice cream cone, complete with chocolate sprinkles, to look forward to.

And while I certainly do my part to help keep Haagen-Dazs, Ben & Jerry’s (and even Friendly’s!) in business, I love to make homemade ice cream.   But if I’m going to go through the effort of unearthing the ice cream maker from the bottom of the packed-to-the-gills pantry, it’s gotta be something extra special.  You know… like a rich, creamy ice cream with the intense flavor of salted caramel.

I’m a girl who, if I’m not careful, could destroy an entire pint of ice cream in one sitting.  Not this ice cream.  It’s so rich and intense, you’ll probably want to dish it out in small servings.   I served it over a small, flourless brownie, but it would be killer on top of apple crisp or sandwiched between two ginger cookies.

Fleur de Sel Caramel Ice Cream

Yield: about 1 quart

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 6+ hours

Ingredients:

* 2 cups whole milk
* 1 cup heavy cream
* 1-1/2 cups sugar
* 1/4 cup butter
* 6 egg yolks
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel, or another sea salt

Directions:

In a small saucepan combine the milk and heavy cream over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Immediately remove from heat and set aside.

Place the sugar in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium high heat. Let it sit, without stirring, until the sugar begins to melt around the edges. Continue cooking the sugar, stirring frequently with a long wooden spoon, until the sugar has all melted and turned a dark amber color.

Carefully add the butter (it will bubble up quickly and might splatter) and then very slowly pour in the heated milk and cream mixture while stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture is smooth and it has come to a low simmer. Remove from heat and set aside.

Fill a large bowl 3/4 full of ice water and set aside.

In a medium bowl combine the egg yolks and the vanilla extract. Beat using a whisk or an electric mixer on medium speed until the mixture has roughly doubled. While continuing to whisk, slowly add a large ladle or two of the caramel into the egg mixture. Whisk until smooth. Now pour the egg yolk mixture into the saucepan with the caramel while stirring.

Place the saucepan back on the stove over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture can coat the back of a spoon. Do not let the mixture boil. Remove from heat and pour the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a heatproof bowl.

Set the bowl over the ice bath and stir until the mixture has cooled, adding fresh ice to the ice bath if necessary.

Remove the custard mixture from the ice bath, cover and refrigerate for at least three hours or overnight.

Freeze the mixture in an ice cream making according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to a freezer-safe container and stir in the fleur de sel or other salt. Taste and adjust salt, if necessary. Place the ice cream in the freezer for at least two hours to harden.

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