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this is your brain on woohoo!

Recipe: chocolate caramel ice cream

If you are looking for a great all-body workout, backcountry skiing may be your answer. It is one of my favorite activities in spring when the winds are a little less antagonistic than in winter, the temperatures are comfortable enough that your pack isn’t bursting with tons of high-loft layers, and the snow feels good when you sit in it. Unlike resort skiing, in backcountry skiing YOU ARE THE SKI LIFT. That means you earn your turns and then some. But the solitude and beauty of our beautiful mountains are worth it. Jeremy and I skin up for hours, talking with one another, sometimes just listening to all of the different bird calls, inhaling that glorious forest smell, and noting any natural slides on the high peaks. We usually break for a late snack at the high point. That’s where we rip (climbing) skins, get some turns, and then ski back (which is super fast!).


gearing up in the parking lot

this frozen alpine lake has lots of beautiful wildflowers in summer

jeremy admires the indian peaks as he skins up

bacon in the backcountry – does it get much better than this?!

hoofing it to take a few more laps



It’s like hiking, but on skis and in the snow. Backcountry skiing is a lot more exertion than hiking, but I just love it so much. We bring snacks with us – nothing heavy. Neither of us likes to eat much food while skinning up – just enough to keep the stomach from getting gurgly and grumpy. Typically we’ll devour half of our snacks in the car on the drive home. As soon as we get home we somehow manage to simultaneously address the dog’s pee/poop clock, unpack our gear to dry, and cobble together a meal that is supposed to make up for the three we haven’t eaten yet. But this time, there was homemade ice cream in the freezer for dessert. Jeremy was excited for the new experimental flavor because it combines two of his favorites: chocolate and caramel.

chocolate, vanilla, milk, cream (divided), eggs, sugar (divided), flake sea salt

chop the chocolate

heat cream and sugar in separate pans



Actually, chocolate caramels are my favorite caramels in the world. I’m not so crazy for chocolate, but I love caramel. Combine the two and you have that “the whole is greater than the sum of the parts” thing going on. When I was little, our piano teacher would give our family a big chocolate sampler every year for the holidays. I always sought out the chocolate caramels (there were two in the whole box). It was my obsession. How hard could it be to make chocolate caramel ice cream if you already know how to make caramel ice cream? Well, it’s quite simple – you just add chocolate.

heating sugar in the pan until it caramelizes

pour in the hot cream

it will bubble like a mofo, keep stirring

stir in the chocolate

add the salt



If you’ve never made caramel, you need to be careful with the sugar. Molten sugar not only burns like crazy, but it likes to stick to human skin or anything for that matter. It’s a good idea to keep a bowl of ice water nearby just in case you need to dunk a finger, hand, whatever into the water. When I added the cream to the caramelized sugar, some of the caramel hardened and stuck to the bottom of the pan. This was probably because I was photographing instead of stirring constantly. I set the pan over low heat and stirred for about 30 minutes until it was mostly dissolved. After incorporating the chocolate and sea salt, I poured the chocolate caramel into a bowl. There was still a little bit of hard caramel on the bottom of the pan, but it dissolved easily enough when I made the custard in the same pan (yay! fewer dishes!).

heat cream, milk, and sugar

temper the egg yolks with the hot cream mixture

cook then strain the custard

stir in the chocolate caramel

the caramel is much thicker than the custard



A note about the salt. If you like salted caramel, then a half teaspoon may or may not be enough for your tastes. I bumped the salt to one teaspoon because I like salted caramel, but I think it results in a squishier ice cream. That is to say, it won’t freeze as firm as normal ice creams because of the salt. You may or may not care. If you do care, keep the salt to a half teaspoon (as listed in the recipe).

add vanilla and chill the custard

churn in an ice cream machine

very soft (but wonderful)



I am so very fond of this ice cream because it tastes just like chocolate caramels without the part where they stick to your teeth. It reminds me of certain chocolates that have a lovely malty flavor to them. The chocolate caramel ice cream is rich, to be sure. Most of the time a single spoonful will satisfy me for the day. Jeremy prefers a bowl. Definitely a delightful reward after a day of backcountry skiing in the hot sun!

get your scoop on



Chocolate Caramel Ice Cream
[print recipe]
modified from this recipe

1 1/4 cups sugar (1 cup + 1/4 cup)
2 1/4 cups heavy cream (1 1/4 cups + 1 cup)
5 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 tsp Maldon flaky sea salt (or some other flake sea salt)
1 cup whole milk
5 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract

Make the chocolate caramel: Heat 1 cup of sugar in a medium saucepan (I used a 3 qt. saucepan – don’t use a shallow pan!) over medium heat. Stir it around until the edges begin to melt. Then stop stirring, but occasionally swirl the sugar in the pan to get it melt more evenly. When the sugar turns a deep amber color, stir in the 1 1/4 cups cream. It will bubble up like crazy, but keep stirring to incorporate the cream into the caramel. Continue to stir until the caramel is dissolved. Stir the chocolate and the salt into the caramel until the chocolate is melted. Pour the chocolate caramel into a large bowl and set aside.

Make the ice cream: Using the same pan (without washing it – score!), heat 1/4 cup sugar, 1 cup cream, and 1 cup milk. If there are any hardened bits of caramel in the pan, keep the heat on medium low and keep stirring until the caramel dissolves into the liquid (it may take a while, but it will happen). Place the egg yolks in a medium bowl. When the cream-milk mixture is hot (steaming), whisk a half cup into the egg yolks. Whisk in another half cup until incorporated. Whisk in the remaining liquid. Scrape the egg-cream-milk mixture back into the saucepan and set on medium heat while constantly stirring the bottom and corners of the pan until the custard thickens (takes a few minutes or more). Strain the custard through a fine-mesh sieve into the chocolate caramel and stir until combined. Stir in the vanilla extract. Cover with plastic wrap and chill thoroughly in the refrigerator. Churn the custard according to your ice cream manufacturer’s instructions. Pack the soft ice cream into a vessel and freeze. Makes 1 quart.


more goodness from the use real butter archives

chocolate caramels chocolate ice cream salted caramel ice cream chocolate caramel pretzels

17 nibbles at “this is your brain on woohoo!”

  1. Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar says:

    This ice cream flavour is seriously unreal. LOVE this.

  2. farmerpam says:

    Wow. Just wow.

  3. Kristin says:

    I’m with farmerpam. Wow. Oh ok, I’ll add a YUM!

  4. Christina @ but i'm hungry says:

    I keep getting a perfect visual of sticking that tasty-looking piece of bacon into a big bowl of this amazing ice cream. My mind won’t stop doing it. Hmm… pregnant much?!

  5. Rocky Mountain Woman says:

    bacon in the back country..

    tee hee – I’ll remember that one for a while

  6. Kate says:

    I love that you bring bacon for your outdoor snacks. ;) The ice cream sounds delicious, too. Have you every made ice cream or frozen custard without an ice cream maker? Mine was tragically lost to a bad move, and I can’t bring myself to buy another one right now.

  7. jill says:

    Your energy level constantly amazes me. I wish I had just an iota of that! And what a pleasure to come home and calorie up on something so heavenly!

  8. Pey-Lih says:

    Oh Y-U-M!!!!!! Love the combo. Just what I need after a long hilly climb on the bike. Thanks for sharing the recipe. I have an ice cream maker, and this is a recipe I will definitely try.

  9. Abbie @ Needs Salt says:

    This ice cream looks incredible! I’m loving all the step-by-step photos, too.
    Pinning!

  10. Anne says:

    Me want!!! That looks breathtaking! Your pictures are beautiful.

  11. Anna says:

    Yummy!! Your recipes are always amazing. I can’t wait to try this out once the weather gets warmer :) Thank you!

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  13. jenyu says:

    Thanks guys!

    Kate – I have made granita without an ice cream maker, but my ice cream machine gets a lot of use because we like to entertain with ice cream as an option for dessert. It wasn’t too pricey – $30 years ago… Probably $40 or $45 today?

    jill – for Jeremy, yes! For me, I have to stay away from the dairy ;)

  14. Gary says:

    Awesome instructions. Thanks for sharing.
    Cheers.

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  16. Andrea says:

    I made this ice cream a few days ago. It’s absolutely delicious, but VERY soft – it’s like soft serve ice cream. Is this normal? I’ve made lots of other ice creams that firm up in my freezer, but this recipe is exceptionally soft. I’d like it to be harder because it melts pretty quick and is basically liquid for the last few bites. Thanks!

  17. jenyu says:

    Andrea – yes, it’s going to be soft because of the salted caramel. You could reduce the salt to a pinch instead and I’m guessing it would be slightly firmer.

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