Recipe: apple cider ice cream with apple cider caramel swirl
Last year, my friend, Andrew, went from owning 16 things that all fit in a backpack to owning a beautiful canyon home outside of Boulder. After traveling the world for over a year, he finally had a place to hang his hat. I visited, got the grand tour, and we agreed that we would have to cook dinner together in his new kitchen. That was 18 months ago. Every few months we’d touch base and our schedules just didn’t jive until last week. Andrew has hosted a lot of dinners at his house in that time, so his routine is dialed in. Except this time, he let me call the shots because I was guest cooking. I suggested a menu, prepared a few dishes in advance, and then we set to work Thursday afternoon.
which grocery store?
some kale, some apples…
Once at the house, Andrew tidied up (and sanded his deck – industrious fellow) while I took over the kitchen. As the sun dropped behind the canyon wall, guests began arriving. Some of my friends, his friends, mutual friends, and my mom! I usually try to take my mom out to dinner when my dad has poker night, but this time I was cooking at Andrew’s house, so we invited her to join us. Andrew led a few tours of his beautiful home as people trickled in.
miso butter roast chicken ready for the oven
the host with the most
We started with hot chorizo sweet onion dip (from Todd and Diane) and tortilla chips before sitting down to roasted carrot ginger soup, Oak’s shredded kale salad, miso butter roasted chicken (from Kathya), and a steamed rice blend with extra miso butter roast garlic sauce on top. Dinner was lively, fun, and I could finally relax since all of the cooking was done!
andrew serves up the miso butter chicken
dinner is served
my plate full of yum
For dessert, I served an ice cream I had made ahead of time at home. I’ve been feeling the love for apples of late, and that includes apple cider. A few weeks ago I was testing and tweaking an apple cider ice cream with apple cider caramel swirl. Instead of forcing apple cider caramel swirl on everyone, I decided to serve the caramel sauce on the side. Turns out everyone wanted the caramel anyway – I mean, who wouldn’t? The ice cream was declared a success and now that I’ve field tested it, I can share it with you. First, let’s get crackin’ on the ice cream.
eggs, apple cider, sugar, vanilla bean, sea salt, heavy cream, whole milk (not pictured: vanilla extract)
split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds out
warm 1 cup of cream with the milk, sugar, salt, and vanilla bean
reduce the cider in a saucepan
The apple cider ice cream is essentially vanilla ice cream with reduced apple cider. Be sure you get apple cider and not apple juice. It should be pressed, unfiltered, and preferably raw (unpasteurized). The first time I made the ice cream, I felt it could have used more concentration of apple cider flavor (2 cups cider to 1/2 cup), so the second time around, I simmered it down from 4 cups of cider to 1/2 cup which took me about 40 minutes. It will result in a syrupy and intensely apple flavor. When the syrup cools, it will be the consistency of a soft caramel sauce.
reduced apple cider
after steeping the cream for 30 minutes
add the reduced cider to the cream
temper the egg yolks
Make the custard, strain it through a sieve to remove any cooked egg bits, and then stir in the remaining cream and some vanilla extract. Add the vanilla bean into the custard to continue infusing with its magic. Let the custard chill thoroughly before churning it. While that’s happening, you can get started on the caramel.
custard is done when it coats the back of a spoon
strain the custard
stir in the cream
and add the vanilla extract
My first trial with the apple cider caramel was too thick. It just didn’t flow well and glopped together in big pools when I layered it with the ice cream. That led to an overabundance of caramel in some scoops (if there is such a thing, but I felt this was). So my second and third attempts resulted in a caramel sauce that flowed easily when heated, but was still soft and gooey at room temperature. Layering this softer caramel with the ice cream meant you could scoop it once the ice cream solidified.
apple cider, cream, vanilla extract, sugar, sea salt, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon
reduce the cider
down to 1/4 cup
You’ll notice that we are once again reducing apple cider and by the same proportions as we did with the ice cream. If you would like to save yourself some time, you can reduce all 6 cups at once down to 3/4 cup, which is what I did on my second round of the ice cream. While that’s simmering down, you can begin the caramel, because it will require some time (and patience).
heat the cream
melt the sugar in a pan
stir hot cream into the caramelized sugar
set on low heat and stir until the caramelized sugar is completely dissolved
I like the dry method of caramelizing sugar and have been using it more and more. It takes away the brick factor (when a seed sets off uncontrolled crystallization during the wet method). There are a few helpful things to note. First, add hot cream to the caramelized sugar. That will result in less hardened caramel than if you pour cold cream into the very very hot sugar. Second, you will probably get some sugar hardening in blobs or on the side or bottom of the pan. THIS IS OKAY. Set the pan on low heat and stir occasionally (or a lot) and eventually all of the sugar will melt and the sauce will thicken. I stirred mine for 20 minutes before it happened, but the important part is that it did happen. Once the sauce is smooth, stir in the rest of the goodies.
add the reduced apple cider
and the spices
the yield is about 1 1/4 cup
I have made the caramel sauce with spices and also without the nutmeg and cloves (but kept the cinnamon in). They’re both great. So if you aren’t a huge fan of the “autumn” spice mix, then ditch the other spices or even the cinnamon if you are hardcore pure apple cider flavor all the way. The salt shouldn’t be omitted though, because caramels without salt taste flat and overly sweet to me. Before you churn the ice cream, make sure the custard is chilled and the caramel sauce is completely cooled to room temperature.
pouring custard into the ice cream machine
layering caramel and ice cream
Freeze the ice cream completely or else you’ll just be smooshing ice cream and caramel around when you try to scoop it. One thing to note about the harder caramel is that it eventually does soften after about 4 or 5 days to the point of being scoopable. However, the harder caramel is more interested in staying in one gigantic piece than mingling with the ice cream in a swirl. This is why I upped the cream to sugar ratio in my caramel so it would be more amenable to scooping. As I said above, you can serve the caramel as a sauce on the side if you would rather not deal with the swirling. This is perfectly acceptable. The main thing to remember is to enjoy the ice cream and share the love.
i like them apples
creamy dreamy good
Apple Cider Ice Cream with Apple Cider Caramel Swirl
apple cider ice cream modified from The Farmers Cow
apple cider ice cream
4 cups apple cider
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean
6 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup apple cider caramel sauce (recipe below)
apple cider caramel sauce
2 cups apple cider
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 tsps vanilla extract
Make the apple cider ice cream: Heat the 4 cups of apple cider in a medium saucepan on high heat. Bring it to a boil and let it boil down to 1/2 cup in volume, stirring occasionally. This took me about 40 minutes, but keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn. While the cider boils, heat 1 cup of heavy cream, 1 cup whole milk, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, and a pinch of salt in another medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Cut the vanilla bean open lengthwise with a sharp knife and scrape the seeds out. When the cream mixture just starts to boil, add the vanilla bean and seeds, cover the pan with a lid and turn off the heat. Let the cream mixture steep for 30 minutes.
Stir the reduced cider (it should be gooey when cooled) into the hot cream until dissolved. Place the egg yolks in a medium bowl and slowly ladle some of the hot cream into the yolks while whisking to prevent the yolks from cooking. Repeat until you have whisked in half of the hot cream. Pour the cream-egg mixture back into the saucepan with the rest of the cream mixture. Set the saucepan over medium heat while stirring constantly, making sure the scrape the bottom of the pan. When the custard thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, remove it from the heat and strain it through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl. Stir in the remaining cup of heavy cream and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Keep the vanilla bean in the custard. Chill the custard completely.
Make the apple cider caramel sauce: Heat the 2 cups of apple cider in a medium saucepan on high heat. Bring it to a boil and let it reduce to 1/4 cup in volume, stirring occasionally. This took me 30 minutes (but again, like with the ice cream, keep an eye on it to avoid burning). Meanwhile, heat the cream in a small saucepan until just boiling. Cover with a lid and turn off the heat. Pour the sugar into a medium saucepan and set on medium heat. It will take a few minutes, but eventually the sugar will begin to melt. Gently swirl it around to help the dry granules melt. When the sugar is completely melted and begins to turn a dark amber (you choose how dark you want it, but dark amber is the baseline – darker will have a more burnt and complex flavor), stir in the hot cream. The cream will bubble up and sputter, but just keep stirring it in. Every time I make caramel like this, there are hard bits of caramelized sugar stuck to the bottom of the pan. The trick is to set the cream/caramel mixture over low heat and give it a stir from time to time until everything dissolves and the caramel thickens. It works. Really. Just be patient. When the caramelized sugar is completely dissolved, stir in the apple cider reduction, spices, salt, and vanilla extract. Makes 1 1/4 cups.
Assemble the ice cream: Remove the vanilla bean from the custard. Churn the chilled custard according to your ice cream machine manufacturer’s instructions. In a tupperware or baking dish, layer a quarter of the soft ice cream. Drizzle 1/4 cup of the caramel sauce over the ice cream. Repeat until you have a final layer of caramel sauce. Freeze. If you prefer, you can just freeze the ice cream as is and then serve the sauce on the side. Makes 5-6 cups.
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