18 January 2010

Caramel Swirl Icecream

Being as lazy as I am, there is nothing I hate more than wasting effort. Thus, after making the salted caramel cupcakes (awesome as they were) it somewhat irked me that I had some of the caramel drizzle left over. Since it had cream in it, I knew it wouldn't keep for long, so I had to do something fast unless I froze it. That gave me an idea.

Given that it has been disgustingly hot, there would be nothing better than cold, sweet caramel icecream. However, making caramel icecream traditionally involves making an egg based custard (it really doesn't work as a sorbet...!) - and who wants to heat up the kitchen using the stove unless they ABSOLUTELY have to??? Plus, I don't have an icecream maker... I then realised I could adapt the technique I picked up in boarding school - cooking eggs in the microwave - to make a microwave custard. Minimal mess, minimal fuss - and no hot kitchen!

This does take a while without an icecream maker. But the actual cooking only took half an hour - the rest of the time was taken trying to get the damn stuff to freeze... it was worth the wait though!

The only comment with this recipe is - when in doubt - WHISK! The more you whisk, the smoother it is!

So here it is - Caramel Swirl Icecream - Lazy Cook style!

You will need

leftover caramel drizzle from this recipe: I had about 1 1/3 cups (but however much you have will be fine!)
4 egg yolks (be sure to reserve the whites for your next batch of SMBC)
2 cups milk

(you can use more or less, depending on your quantity of caramel and how strong you like the icecream.... use 1/2 C milk per egg yolk and you're done!)

microwave +freezer
Glad resealable bags (or any sealable bag that can handle both heat and cold!)
measuring jug
microwavable bowl
freezable bowl
large heatproof glass
icecream container/plastic lidded container (1L)
frozen ice pack/ice brick (or similar)
wooden spoon
paper towels
  1. Set aside about 1/3 of the caramel mixture in a separate bowl - this will be your caramel swirl. Leave this in the fridge.
  2. Heat the milk to room temperature in the microwave.
  3. Whisk the egg yolks in your microwavable bowl. In a very thin, slow stream, add about 1/3 of the warmed milk, whisking all the while.
  4. Warm the remainder of the milk to just above body temperature (about the temperature you like your shower)
  5. Whisking the egg/milk mixture continuously, slowly add the remainder of the milk
  6. Heat the larger batch of caramel mixture until it is about as runny as water - I found this took about 2 minutes on medium high. Be sure to stir every 30 seconds! NOTE: clean the outside of the bowl before you do this, or your microwave will not look pretty afterwards! Cover with a paper towel while heating.
  7. Transfer the runny mixture into your measuring jug and SLOWLY (a few drops at a time to begin with), whisk into egg mixture. The idea is not to end up with scrambled eggs, but to bring the mixture up to cooking temperature very gently!
  8. IMMEDIATELY transfer to microwave. Microwave on medium high for 15 minutes (or longer if you need it), stirring (and this is important) every 30 seconds. Whenever it's out of the microwave, you should be whisking it!

    It won't seem to do much at first, but slowly, the colour will start to darken and the mixture will start to thicken.

    From this colour:
    To this colour:
    Notice how the custard has started to stick to the side of the bowl; that's how you can tell it's nearly ready! When it's done, the custard will stick to the side of the bowl like this:

  9. Stand up your (open) ziploc bag inside a heat resistant glass - this will make it much easier to pour the custard mix into the bag.

  10. Transfer the custard out of your bowl into a pyrex jug. Pour the custard into an upright ziploc bag - be sure to go no higher than the rim of the glass, or it will go EVERYWHERE! (I found I needed 2 for the whole mixture).
  11. Seal the ziploc bags (try to squeeze out as much air as you can). Place the ziploc bags in a freezer safe bowl (that way if something does go wrong, you won't end up with a freezer full of caramel custard...) and put in freezer. Set the bowl on an ice-brick (or similar) - most of the heat conduction will be by the bottom. If you have ice cubes, pack them around the bags.(I clearly don't have any!)
  12. Agitate every 45 minutes or so - pick up the bags and give them a (gentle) shake or squeeze, until semi-solid (this took me about 2.5 hours). Try not to keep the freezer door open for too long! As the mixture starts to solidify, make sure the solid bits get well mixed with the liquid - this will happen around the sides of the bags first, where the heat can be conducted most efficiently. Mixing this way will give it a nice creamy consistency and it means that the icecream will not end up as a solid lump. When semi-solid, scrape the mixture out of the bags into the sealable plastic container.
  13. Warm up the reserved caramel in the microwave (JUST TO ROOM TEMPERATURE - you only want to be able to spread it! 15 seconds on medium high was all I needed) and pour over frozen custard mix. Swirl it gently into the mixture with a fork and return to freezer.
  14. After 45 minutes, come back and give it a stir. Continue to gently stir every 45 minutes until it is quite stiff. If you want to stay true to the original cupcake recipe, sprinkle a pinch of salt over the finished product!
  15. If you have any caramel SMBC left over, top the icecream with it to serve - delish!

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