Celebrating National Ice Cream Day with Salted Caramel Ice Cream

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Ever since I came back from San Francisco, I waited impatiently for the book Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones from Bi-Rite Creamery to arrive.  It came just in time to whip up a few batches of ice cream before National Ice Cream Month is over.  In 1984, President Ronald Reagan declared July as National Ice Cream Month and established the third Sunday of July as National Ice Cream Day.   He couldn’t have picked a better time to celebrate ice cream.  July is the peak of summer, and everyone needs a frozen treat to counter these warm days.  

I knew exactly which recipe to try first.  I wanted to recreate that magical moment when my taste buds were introduced to the salted caramel ice cream at Bi-Rite Creamery.  

The complex taste of sweet caramel heightened by a bit of salt.  Pure bliss.  I couldn’t be happier with the result.  

Three batches later and I still crave for salted caramel ice cream.  I appreciate recipes that deliver exceptional results and this couldn’t be more true of Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones.  While Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home wins the prize for originality and creativity, Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones takes the trophy for delivering consistency and taste.  If you are new to homemade ice cream, this book is a great resource.  Most recipes call for very few ingredients that are easily accessible through your local supermarkets and farmers market.  

Enjoy the rest of National Ice Cream Month whether you’re enjoying homemade ice cream from the comfort of your kitchen or ready-serve scoops at a neighborhood ice cream parlor!

Salted Caramel Ice Cream (from Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones)
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 ¾ cup heavy cream, at room temp   

5 egg yolks

¾ cup whole milk (the original recipe calls for 1% or 2% milk)

½ tsp salt
(the original recipe calls for 1 tsp)
caramel sauce (optional)
Toasted almonds (optional)

1. Get all the ingredients ready and set them near the stove.
2. For the caramel sauce, measure out ½ cup of sugar (the rest will go in the yolks).  Put 2 tablespoons of sugar in a nonreactive saucepan and set the pan on medium heat.  When the sugar is melted around the edges and starts to turn amber, about 2 minutes, stir the mixture gently and add another 2 tablespoons sugar to the pan.
3. Continue adding the remaining sugar to the pan 2 tablespoons at a time, stirring frequently and allowing most of the sugar to melt before adding more.  Watch carefully as the sugar darkens, stirring gently to help it melt evenly.
4. When the caramel becomes a dark mahogany color, remove the pan from the heat and immediately but slowly pour the cream into the pan.
5. The mixture will steam and bubble up so be careful not to burn yourself.  When the bubbling subsides, gently stir to completely blend the cream into the caramel.  If you see lumps of hardened caramel, put the pan over low heat and stir until the caramel is melted.
6. Once the caramel is completely smooth, stir in the milk and salt.  Put the pan on medium-high heat.  When the mixture approaches a bare simmer, reduce the heat to medium.
7. In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk the yolks just the break them up, then whisk in ¼ cup of sugar.  Set aside.
8. Carefully measure out ½ cup of hot cream mixture.  While whisking the eggs constantly, whisk the hot cream mixture into the eggs until smooth.  Continue tempering the eggs by adding another ½ cup of hot cream to the bowl with the  yolks.
9. Pour the cream-egg mixture back to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until it is thickened and coats the back of a spatula. 
10. Strain the base through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean container.
11. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziplock freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in an ice bath until cold, about 30 minutes.  Refrigerate the ice cream base for at least 2 hours or overnight.
12. Pour the ice cream base  into the frozen canister of your ice cream machine and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

13. Spin until thick and creamy about 25-30 minutes.

14. Pack the ice cream into a storage container, press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface and seal with an airtight lid.  Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.

15. When ready to serve, scoop the ice cream into bowl, drizzle with caramel sauce, and top with some toasted almonds. 

Caramel sauce
¾ cup heavy cream, at room temp
1 cup sugar
¼ teaspoon salt

1. Repeat steps 1-5.
2. Let the sauce cool until just warm.  If not using within a few hours, transfer the caramel sauce to a container and refrigerate.  Re-warm before using.


  1. This looks so good. I love the ziplock bag idea. I will have to this.

    I have a problem with my ice cream getting icy if I store it in the freezer. I read somewhere if you add a little alcohol it will keep it from getting icy. Does your book address this in anyway?

    And as always I just love your photography.

    1. hi Madonna. I couldn't find anything in both Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones and Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home regarding troubleshooting icy ice cream. I have heard about adding a bit of alcohol to help lower the freezing point and preventing large ice crystals from forming. Using more heavy cream in your ice cream base instead of milk helps too since milk has a high water content.