Have you ever had an experience with so many fails in a row that you lose faith in your abilities and then, from that tiring process something amazing clicks and it becomes all worth it? That is the story behind this absolutely heavenly ice cream - created almost by accident but then really, totally on purpose.
Born from an unsuccessful attempt to make candy to hand out on halloween, comes not just apple cider ice cream but a caramelized version. My approach to sweets and baked good is always - if you can make it at home, then do so. Usually this works, but trying to make hard caramels for the first time proved a little more challenging than I expected. The first recipe I used, no matter how strictly I adhered to all instructions, refused to be a candy. I turned to a more reliable source, smittenkitchen who has a recipe for apple cider caramels which sounded just perfect for an end-of-october treat. But, full of anxiety to make sure this one worked, I hastily took it off the heat too quickly and because of this it would not set into candy. I waited a day to see if it would harden but once it was clear it wasn’t going to happen I poured it into a mason jar and stuck it in the fridge. For the next couple of days, every time I opened the fridge there it stared at me, reminding me of my failure but also waiting to be put to use. But then, it occurred to me that in its sauce-like consistency it could turn into a fab ice cream…
I tweaked the caramel recipe as I was adding a lot of milk and I wanted to really bring out the gorgeous flavors (more salt, more sugar and then swapped the brown out for muscovado) and made it about four more times to perfect it (and, ahem… because people kept asking for it…) and the result is just … *insert several heart emojis * Everyone who has tasted it has fallen deeply in love.
And guys - you can stop here and you’ll have something truly wonderful. But I, as I am wont to do, took it a step further. I love varied texture in ice cream so I added caramelized white chocolate chips for some crunch. The cider and cwc turn out to be a match made in heaven - the tartness of the apple marries perfectly with the sweetness of the deep white chocolate.
Apple Cider Caramel Ice Cream
I know, it seems kind of annoying to do this in so many steps when everything ultimately cooks together but it turns out, after many tries to remove step, they are necessary. You really have to make the caramel before you turn it into ice cream to get the right texture.
Speaking of removing steps: this article says you don’t need to temper the egg yolks if you add them to the cold cream and milk. I haven’t tried it but it makes sense when I think about the way I make lemon curd.
Interested in the caramelized white chocolate addition? Heat the oven to 250. Take a white chocolate bar, chop it up and place it on a cookie sheet (unlined). Bake it for about 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes until it reaches a caramel color and is liquidy. I have a step-by-step process in my instagram highlights.
In a pinch, you can use brown sugar instead of muscovado. Muscovado can be a bit expensive and hard to find, but it is absolutely perfect here so I encourage you to use it.
first, the caramel:
2 cups apple cider
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons flaky sea salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks
½ cup sugar, granulated
¼ cup muscovado sugar
⅙ cup heavy cream
now, the ice cream:
2 cups milk
1 cup cream
¼ cup muscovado sugar
4 egg yolks
First we are going to remove the water from the cider to intensify the flavor: in a small pot boil the cider on high for 30-45 minutes until it has been reduced to about ¼ of a cup. While it is boiling, prepare the rest of the caramel by putting all the caramel ingredients in a large bowl. In another bowl, add all the ice cream ingredients except the egg yolks. Add the egg yolks to a third bowl. Once the caramel has reduced, add the rest of the caramel ingredients and stir as the butter melts then don’t stir for a few minutes while it caramelizes. Once the temperature reaches 245-247 you have your apple cider caramel sauce. To the pot add the milk, cream, and second addition of muscovado sugar. Some of the caramel might harden and float to the top, just whisk it as it warms and it will melt into the milk. Whisk the egg yolks. Add a ladleful of the mix to the eggs and whisk again, do this 2 more times and then pour the egg mixture into the pot. Cook on medium until temperature registers 170, is thick and covers the back of a spoon. Sieve it into a bowl to remove any egg bits, cover and let it sit in the fridge overnight. This is a necessary step to cool the base.
the next day, prepare your ice cream maker or freezing machine and stick the container you plan to store it in in the freezer to chill so it is cold before you add the ice cream. Whisk your base together (it tends to set a bit at the top) and freeze according to your machine’s instructions. Store in the freezer in an airtight container.
if you’d like to add caramelized white chocolate chips: melt 1/4 cup of the cwc chocolate in the microwave, stopping every 15 seconds to stir. Once most of the chocolate has melted, remove from microwave and stir until it fully melts. Once your ice cream is done freezing in the machine, and as you add it to your container, drizzle over it some of the white chocolate. Layer ice cream on top and repeat.