Monday, January 14, 2013

Rivers & Tides

When I was a senior in highschool, my boyfriend and I watched the documentary "Rivers and Tides." Ever since, I've been mildly obsessed with Andy Goldsworthy's environmental art, specifically the way it evolves over time. He makes ice sculptures that melt when the sun comes up, big stone cones that get covered when the tide comes in, and leaf formations that get blown away by the wind. Well, my friends, I bring you the Andy Goldsworthy of ice cream flavors.

I hesitate to call this Vanilla Bean w/Caramel Crackle (hence the label on the pint), because the caramel changes. On day one, you have crunchy flakes of caramel. But, by day three or four, it starts to become more of a caramel swirl. Regardless, no matter what day you eat it, it is delicious. So so delicious.

Vanilla Bean w/Caramel Crackle
(adapted from David Lebovitz's Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream and Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream)

For caramel crackle:
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon fleur de sel (or maldon/other high-quality salt)

- Line a baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper, or lightly spray the sheet with a non-flavored oil.

- Spread the sugar evenly in a medium saucepan and set over a moderate flame. Leave it be until it shows signs of melting (it will either brown around the edge or become transparent in some spots). At that point, gently stir until all of the sugar has dissolved and you begin to smell it burning ever so slightly (very soon after it's all dissolved).

- This next part should be done quickly. Immediately sprinkle in the salt and pour the caramel onto the prepared baking sheet. Quickly lift the baking sheet and tilt it so that the caramel creates as thin a layer as possible. Set it aside to cool.

- Once cool, use your preferred utensil (I use a combination of my hands and a rolling pin; David Lebovitz uses a mortar and pestle) to break the caramel into small pieces -- the size of large confetti. You can wait to do this part while the ice cream is churning.

For ice cream:
2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon cornstarch
3 tablespoons whipped cream cheese
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/4 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped

Before you make the base...
- In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of milk into a slurry.
- Measure out the whipped cream cheese and sea salt into a medium bowl (if you don't have whipped cream cheese, you can whisk the two together).

- In a medium saucepan, combine the cream, sugar, corn syrup, vanilla bean pod & innards, and remaining milk and bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat. While you're waiting for it to boil, fill a large bowl with ice and cold water and set it aside. Boil the mixture for four minutes, keeping an eye on it so it doesn't boil over. Remove from heat and slowly add the cornstarch slurry, whisking constantly.
- Bring the mixture back to a boil, stirring frequently, and boil for approximately one minute, or until it's slightly thickened. Remove from heat and gradually whisk the hot mixture into the cream cheese, starting with a very small amount to make sure the mixture is perfectly smooth. 
- Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag, and place the bag in the prepared ice bath until fully cooled. This usually takes about 30 minutes, and you'll need to add more ice as it melts. If you don't want to churn the ice cream right away, you can cool the mixture in the fridge overnight.

- Discard the vanilla bean pod and pour the mixture into your frozen canister (I do so by cutting a hole in the bottom corner of the bag). 
- Churn according to your machine's instructions. When the ice cream is just about done, add the caramel crackle for the last minute of churning.
- Pack the ice cream into a quart-sized or two pint-sized containers, press parchment paper on top, and seal the container with an airtight lid. After 4+ hours in the freezer, your ice cream will be ready to eat.


  1. Well, now I will have to pull out my old ice cream maker. Congrats on the blog and happy churning :)

    1. Thanks! No better time to pull out the old ice cream maker than during your birthday week!