Saturday, 22 August 2009

Caramelised white choc ice cream with salted almond caramel

I think I am in love!  In fact my daughter thinks I am in love too, and I think she rather approves, I'm not sure what my husband thinks though!
Earlier this summer, I did something very out of character for me, and bought an ice cream machine. I blame this completely on the rather wonderful food hero David Lebovitz.  I feel as though reading his blog has subtly influenced me and suddenly the urge to buy one overpowered me!
This is out of character for me because although I am a confectionery baker by trade, I am inclined towards savoury rather than sweet foods and I am not one to buy gadgets on a whim.   About the venerable DL I will eulogise another day, but if anyone hasn't yet found his blog, you must visit him (though not until you have read to the bottom of this post)!
Before I go any further I should clarify the icecream maker isn't a bells and whistles freeze-on-the-counter number, but rather this nifty ice cream maker by Philips bought at Lakeland.  The magical thing about this machine is that you don't need to freeze the bowl.  Instead there are inserts which go into the bottom of the bowl which you freeze instead.  This means that you don't need so much room in the freezer as with the bowl, and could justify, as I did, buying 2 discs (one in use, one ready to roll).  
Armed with an ice cream maker, I have discovered a new passion.  I have never really thought of ice cream as a food, let alone one that you can be creative with, but I have been amazed at the flavour combinations you can achieve.  This was definitely helped by a trip to Nice earlier in the summer with several visits to Fennochio's.  

A week or two ago I skimmed over the post about caramelised white chocolate on David Lebovitz's blog.  I tried really hard not to read it properly as I have been avoiding replacing the empty 3 kg bag of white choc callets in my cupboard.  I haven't yet read any scientific studies which confirm the need for white chocolate in the diet to prevent any know diseases, and as my one true sweet vice I try to avoid having any white chocolate in the house.
All the same, I haven't been able to put the thought of caramelised white choc ice cream out of my mind.  So this morning i took off to the gym via the cash & carry to pick up a 3kg bag of Callebaut White Choc callets.

I don't usually make a custard based ice cream because 
(a) I am too impatient to wait for the custard to chill before churning, and 
(b) I am too impatient to wait for the ice cream to warm to a spoonable consistency when taken out of the fridge!   So that means that I make a raw egg version and take my life in my hands!  
In the UK all eggs that are sold with the lion mark are certified as being free from salmonella, so my last comment isn't really true.  I know lots of people avoid raw eggs, so for safety, this is a cooked custard recipe.

All ingredients

340g white chocolate (around 30% cocoa solids)

3 whole eggs
300ml whole or semi skimmed milk
100g sugar
1/8th teaspoon sea salt
250ml double or whipping cream
20ml creme de cacao

100g golden granulated sugar

75g whole almonds
3/4 tsp smoked sea salt

Caramelised white choc   (please see David Lebovitz's post here).
Spread the whites chocolate out over a non-stick baking sheet (line with foil or baking parchment if yours is inclined to stick).
Bake in an oven at 120deg C.
Check every 10 minutes and stir the chocolate carefully before replacing in the oven.  Don't forget to use an oven timer. 
Each time you take it out, the chocolate is initially harder (presumably as the moisture on the surface evaporates) but stir through and the choc will become liquid again.  
It took 40 minutes before the chocolate started to turn,  the colour became slowly a darker yellow before gaining those rich caramel tones we are looking for.  If you remember Caramac bars - that is exactly the shade you are after (boy, I miss caramac!).
Please don't do this the way I did:  I didn't notice that my oven had been turned down around 1 hr in, then spent another 50 mins checking and wondering why it wasn't working!   Because of that, it took me 2 hrs and 40 mins to caramelise this chocolate. 

Ice cream
 Whisk the eggs in a heat proof glass bowl until they are just foamy.
Put the sugar,  whole milk  and 1/8th tsp sea salt together in a saucepan and warm until the sugar has dissolved.
Pour half the warm milk over the beaten eggs stirring all the time.  
Once the eggs and milk are mixed,  pour them quickly back into the saucepan and stir vigorously.  
Over a very gentle heat, keep stirring with a heatproof spatula or whisk.  
The custard will slowly thicken.  As we have used whole eggs you may notice a little graininess in the custard but this is nothing to worry about as long as you keep stirring!  
Plunge the pan of custard into cold or iced water and keep stirring until it is cold.
Now if you have time, chill this in the fridge.
Measure the cream and creme de cacao into a heatproof bowl.  
Add 300g melted caramelised white chocolate to the cream and mix thoroughly.
I found I had to use a whisk to bring it all together quickly.  
Again plunge this bowl into some chilled or iced water to cool it quickly and stir it to help it cool.

Set up your ice cream machine as per the manufacturers instructions.  
Once the chocolate mix is cool add it to the chilled custard and into your machine and leave to churn as per instructions.

At this point I tasted the ice cream, and to be honest, I was a little bit disappointed.  I think I could have let the chocolate caramelise even longer.  I paused for thought, mesmerised by the rotating paddle of the ice cream maker.

Then I remembered caramel!  
Caramel has been popular in the blog community over the summer and several sites have featured recipes and concepts.  Having nothing to lose, I weighed golden granulated sugar into a saucepan and put it on a very low heat.  
Whilst this warmed I roughly chopped  almonds and toasted them off in a saucepan.  This is one of those rare, almost cartoonlike, moments when you end up with a pan in each hand gently shaking the contents over the heat.  I almost felt like a proper cook! 

The sugar melted without catching (phew) and I let it reach a middling brown colour (I thought that you might need a bit of extra oomph to taste the caramel in the ice cream).  

Tip the caramel onto some baking paper on a lipped tray and then pour the nuts over.  
I recollected something else DL said and dug to the back of a cupboard to find a pot of oak smoked salt.  
I sprinkled a very generous 3/4 tsp smoked salt over the caramel and left it to set for 5 minutes.  
As soon as this was set, I chopped it into 1cm squares and added it to the ice cream machine.
Five minutes later the icecream was decanted into a pot which is now chilling in the freezer.

 I'm dreaming of eating ...  there is another 2.7kg of white chocolate to use up, so next up is this delicious looking white chocolate and strawberry mousse from Chele at The Chocolate Teapot.


  1. White Chocolate AND ice cream! My idea of heaven, will be giving this ice cream a go the first chance I get.

  2. Wow this one sounds complicated but delicious - worth the effort of course

  3. Hi gourmet chick.
    Thanks for your comment.
    It does taste great but I agree it was quite complicated. The oven temp error gave me too much time to "develop" the recipe (sometimes I should just stick to my plans)!