Two Caramel Ice Creams

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Goat's Milk Caramel Ice Cream

I got this saucepan for Christmas from my parents. It's the most beautiful piece of cookware I own. Solid copper, even the copper handle riveted to the body with copper rivets. Pour spout. 2qt Mauviel sugar saucepan.

Copper Saucepan

I wanted its first few uses to be special, so naturally I had to make caramel in it. First, I made the Pear-Caramel Ice Cream from The Perfect Scoop. It's an interesting process; I'm so used to two-pot dairy caramel at this point that just caramelizing plain sugar with no water or interfering agent and then dumping chopped pear directly into it seemed a little bizarre. And indeed, the caramel sizzled and seized and spat a bit when I did it, but lo, it worked out just fine:

Pears & Caramel

After cooking it a bit longer it melted back down, liquid seeped from the pear and I had a nice caramel-pear base simmering.

Pears & Caramel

Mix that with some cream and salt and some other random stuff and hit it with a hand blender for a while (right in the saucepan! Easiest cleanup ever!) and I had a perfect ice cream base, ready to freeze. If I'd really wanted the creamiest results possible, I could have strained the tiny pear grit out with cheesecloth, I guess, but I didn't bother and it was still extremely creamy & smooth.

Pear-Caramel Ice Cream Base

I don't seem to have photographed the finished product. It was great.

OK, before the next one, let me extol the virtues of this saucepan. It's really a pretty amazing thing to cook with. I'd always read that copper conducts heat "very evenly," but I guess I always assumed that just mean I wouldn't get quite the same brutal hotspots on the bottom of the pan that I do with my cheap saucepans that invariably lead to uneven cooking and burning, scorching, and force me to keep the stove no higher than medium for fear it'll all get out of my control.

This saucepan heats so evenly that not only were there no perceptible hotspots, even the sides get really hot, too. I didn't even think about it until my spatula was caked with dried caramel and I went to scrape it off on the sides of the pan... and it cleanly scraped off, melted, and slid back into the pan! Unheard-of! Yes, this does mean the handle gets scorching hot, too. I just use a dishtowel to hold it. It's well worth it: I can just dump straight sugar into this pan, turn the stove on highest heat, and comfortably stir it as the sugar evenly melts and caramelizes, with no fear I'll burn it. It's really amazing.

OK, on to the next ice cream. I was at Teo the other day, and Matt, the proprietor with whom I lately have a decent rapport, offered me tastes of various gelatos until we came to the "Salty Caramel" gelato: a golden-colored gelato covered in glasslike shards of thin, dark amber caramelized sugar. I knew my choice was made for me. Then I started to eat it and noticed a little something unexpected, a funkiness in its finish, and I leaned over and quietly asked Matt,

"Have you ever made this with goat's milk?"

He looked back with a conspiratorial smile and nodded. "I can't put it on the sign because it freaks people out, but yeah, that's cajeta."

It was delicious. I knew I had to try it myself. I took David's Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream recipe and modified it with goat's butter and goat's milk instead of the bovine equivalents. At David's suggestion I just used goat's milk for both the milk and cream, and added 2 more egg yolks to compensate for the lost fat.

First, I made the crunchy caramelized sugar brittle:

Caramelizing Sugar

... and poured it out on a silpat with some fleur de sel to make as thin a sheet of the brittle caramel as possible:

Salted Caramel

Then I followed his recipe to the letter. Caramelize the sugar, take it off the heat, add the goat's butter and a cup of the milk. At this point the caramel has fully seized and I coaxed it slowly back into liquid form over medium-low heat for a while. When it finished, I added the second cup of milk, tempered the egg yolks with a bit of it, and poured them back in. At that point David's recipe says to cook the custard until it thickens, and predicts a temperature of about 160-170F. Mine didn't thicken up until 195F. I'm not sure if it's something about goat's milk versus cow's milk, or simply that I used all milk and no cream, but it was a bit confusing because mine had 7 egg yolks instead of his 5, so I'd expected it to thicken up especially fast.

Goat's Milk Caramel Custard

That said, oddly, it didn't curdle at all by 195F. Last time I made a custard with cow's milk was the creme anglaise for the other pear ice cream I made a while back, and I got a little carried away, and it curdled by about 185F. Again, maybe it's something about goat's milk. I dunno. But it worked.

I strained it into the bowl sitting in an ice bath with the third and final cup of goat's milk.

Goat's Milk Caramel Ice Cream Base

I refrigerated it overnight and then churned it. I think I'm finally getting the hang of this ice cream maker, thanks to tips from Lulu. It's really all about cranking my fridge and freezer both as cold as they can possibly go, to get the mix and the freezer bowl as cold as they can be. Now my results are nice and smooth; previously I just couldn't get the mix to freeze well enough in the bowl, and it'd get icy in its subsequent stay in the freezer. No longer; this stuff was fantastic.

Goat's Milk Caramel Ice Cream

The goat's milk caramel is fantastic. Funky and complex, but still deeply sweet and rich, I think it beats any cow's milk caramel I've ever had, hands-down. I could eat this stuff all day.

And, as David's recipe predicts, the bits of crushed caramelized sugar start to bleed into the ice cream, turn sticky, and it all works together beautifully.


At February 12, 2008 9:56 PM , Blogger davidL said...

glad they were both big hits!

At March 12, 2008 1:01 PM , Blogger Nora said...

uh... i keep waiting for you to cook something else to show me... from steph's friend nora


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