In doing the research for the layout of my cookbook, Cupboard Cooking, I went back and looked at some of my old cookbooks (and, I have a bunch!). I came upon one co-written by Jean-Georges Vongerichten (definitely one of my favorite chefs) and Mark Bittman (one of my favorite food writers). Bittman recently wrote Food Matters, a book that explores the links among global warming, obesity and lifestyle diseases, and the overproduction and of meat, and junk food. Food Matters presents easily adaptable strategies for eating sanely and consciously. So, there’s a special place in my heart for Bittman, as he’s one of the people who is instrumental in the food revolution and social change.
But I digress… In the Jean-Georges book, I came across this recipe for Caramel Ice Cream. The ice cream is bitter, hardly sweet at all, definitely not for kids, despite all the sugar, because when sugar is cooked to the dark-brown stage, it loses its sweetness. I’m also very happy with the low number of ingredients… sugar, milk, and eggs (that’s it!)… how amazing when things are so simple. Make sure to use a heavy saucepan to make the caramel. I also used my heat diffuser to make sure there were no hot spots in the pan.
I wanted to make beer brittle to go with the caramel ice cream. So, I went to BevMo to get Old Rasputin, unfortunately, they were all out. But, the Stone Brewing Co. guy suggested Stone Imperial Russian Stout as an alternative. (He was really nice and knew lots about beer- even beers that weren’t from his company.) I think the Stone IRS works well in this brittle- it has coffee notes and its dark roasty flavor and color compliments the ice cream.
The brittle wasn’t difficult to make, but it does get really hot (310°); make sure to resist the temptation to stick your finger in it! And, I wouldn’t want to make this on a hot summer day, as the temperature of the kitchen went up substantially as I brought the candy up to temperature.
The combination of bitter ice cream and roasty brittle is fun. And, I must say, that I’m pretty happy with the results (even though I’m not generally a fan of beer).
- 1 ¼ cups sugar
- 1 quart whole milk
- 12 egg yolks
- Put sugar in a large 6 to 8-quart saucepan with a heavy bottom, and turn the heat to medium-high. Cook, occasionally shaking the pan but not stirring (you can scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula, but don’t stir the sugar itself) until the sugar liquefies, bubbles, and turns dark brown, at least 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, then carefully add the milk- very carefully, as it will bubble up, and this mixture is hot and sticky. Turn the heat to medium, and cook, stirring with a wire whisk, until the sugar dissolves; remove from heat.
- Use an electric mixer to beat the egg yolks until they are light yellow. And thick. Pour about a third of the milk mixture into the egg mixture and stir, then pour that mixture back into the remaining milk mixture.
- Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches 175° to 180°, or is slightly thickened; do not boil. (There will be a thick coating on the back of the spoon, one that will hold the outline of your finger after you pass it through.) Cool over a bowl of ice, and then place in the refrigerator for about 4 hours until completely chilled.
- Freeze the caramel custard in an ice cream machine, following manufacturer’s directions. You may add broken up crumbs of the beer brittle, or you may leave the ice cream simple as I have done, and serve it with beer brittle on the side and as a garnish.
- Makes about 1 quart, 6 to 8 servings
- ½ cup good dark beer (I used Stone Imperial Russian Stout)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
- Pinch salt
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup toasted nuts, such as slivered almonds or pistachios
- Line a rimmed cookie sheet with aluminum foil and grease lightly with cooking spray.
- In a large, heavy-bottom saucepan, combine beer, sugar and corn syrup. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to maintain a good simmer, stirring occasionally. Cook until a candy thermometer inserted reads 310°, and remove from heat.
- Immediately stir in the salt, vanilla and nuts (be careful, as the mixture will steam). Quickly pour the brittle into the prepared pan, spreading it thin. Cool completely, and break into pieces.
- (Note added 3-30-2011: Break the brittle up into really small pieces and mix it into the ice cream for a great roasty beer brittle ice cream. This way of serving it was even better than the serving it with the larger chunks!)
- Nutrition analysis is for the whole batch