Every so often a dessert comes into your life and you think: This is my favorite. That is how I feel about this ice cream.
Years ago I formulated a recipe for Creme Brulee Ice Cream. I remember looking around for the perfect recipe, wanting to put my own twist on it. I ended up caramelizing sugar and pouring it onto a silpat-lined baking sheet, then breaking the hard caramel into shards to stick into the ice cream before serving. It was delicious, but the brittle was a little hard to eat.
That was before my friend Wendy gave me a culinary torch for my birthday in 2008 (I think it was.) Everyone should have a torch in their kitchen. They are a lot of fun to use and come in handy every so often.
One day I was trying to decide how to use up the almost dozen egg yolks in my fridge. (Why so many egg yolks, you ask? My son and one of my daughters prefer egg white-only fried eggs. So, extra yolks.) My mind drifted back to this ice cream and I wondered if I could make it again and improve it.
The answer was YES.
The top shatters with the tap of the spoon, and underneath is the most velvety ice cream you can possibly imagine. It doesn’t melt into a puddle like other ice cream. Oh, no. All those egg yolks make a thick custard that remains thick and luscious as it melts.
I’m telling you this: It’s worth every single calorie.
Creme Brulee Ice Cream
2 cups very cold heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
10 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla or 1 vanilla bean, split
10-12 tsp. raw sugar
equipment needed: culinary torch
Beat egg yolks, sugar and salt together until thick and light in color. Heat milk with vanilla bean, if using, until very hot. Add to the eggs and sugar in a slow, steady stream. Pour back into pan and cook over medium-low heat until it reaches 170-180 degrees F. (Be really careful not to let it curdle!) Pour through a sieve into a clean bowl. Add the cold cream and vanilla extract, if using.
Chill for at least 3 hours or overnight. Or to speed up the chilling process, use an ice water bath.* Churn in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer directions. Divide the ice cream between 10-12 small freezer-proof bowls or ramekins, leaving a little space at the top. Press a bit of waxed paper on the surface to make it smooth and flat. Transfer to the freezer.
Remove ramekins from the freezer about 10 minutes before serving and allow to soften a bit at room temperature.
To caramelize the sugar:
Sprinkle top of each ramekin of ice cream with 1 tsp. raw sugar. Use a torch to caramelize the sugar. Serve.
**You can prepare and ice water bath buy using two nesting bowls. Just make sure that the bowl holding the ice water is large enough to accommodate the bowl with the custard. You want most of the custard bowl to be submerged in ice water so the custard can cool sufficiently. Or you could also fill your kitchen sink with ice and water.
I like to use a large glass bowl to hold the ice and water, and my stainless steel Kitchenaid mixer bowl to hold the custard. The metal gets much colder, much faster than glass.
The colder you let the custard get, the faster it will freeze and the smoother it will be.
In case you were curious–here’s the picture from the first time I made this recipe. :)
If you want to make brittle instead of caramelizing the sugar on top, boil together: 1 cup sugar, 2 Tbsp. water, and 1 Tbsp. corn syrup. Cook until deep golden brown, washing down the sides of the pan with a pastry brush if any crystals form. Pour onto a baking sheet lined with silpat or parchment paper, or has been brushed with vegetable oil. Tilt the pan, being careful not to burn yourself, until the caramel is in a thin layer. Let it cool completely and break into shards.