Alchemy: Hot fun -> Cold fun

salted caramel

Inspiration:
On a Facebook discussion of our favorite sources of ice cream recipes, a friend of a friend was raving about the Salted Caramel ice cream recipe in Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones, the recipe book from Bi-Rite, a creamery/bakery in San Francisco (the beauty of all the cone recipes, by the way, is that they use up egg whites — which are currently abundant in my fridge now that I have managed to succeed at the yolk-heavy custard-style recipes). The Salted Caramel recipe indeed looked delicious, but also quite dangerous. Their method for making the caramel was to actually melt sugar, by itself, in a heavy pan, and then let it keep cooking until it darkened to a mahogany brown… just shy of burning. It looked scary but also doable, and since I knew all the kids and guests would be engrossed by Rock Band for a while, I took the leap.

Recipe:
While it is tempting to list the recipe here, I would feel remiss because you would miss the four information-packed and photo-heavy tutorial pages for working with the dry method of making caramel. Serious Eats included it, though, so you can give it a try if you like and my conscience will be clear. But if you are unfamiliar with this technique, please please please be careful… the melted sugar you’ll be working with will be around 400 degrees Fahrenheit, can burn very quickly, and will bubble and steam like whoa when you add the cream. I used my Miu heatproof spatula, and it worked great.

Results:
I was worried, because when I followed the directions — that is, to let the caramel reach “dark mahogany” brown before removing it from the heat — it smelled burnt. After adding the rest of the ingredients and letting the mixture cool in an ice bath, of course I had to taste it… and it also tasted scorched and bitter, especially the aftertaste. I persevered, though (mostly because I didn’t have a back-up plan for my guests), and poked at it anxiously as it spun in the machine.

And then… alchemy was achieved. This super-hot, almost burned, bitter and sweet mix magically transformed into magnificent silky soft drifts of creamy fluff, with a deep rich smoky toasted flavor that made everyone who tasted it moan with delight.

TL;DR: Buy this book.

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