Crème brûlée ice cream is two great desserts in one. Crème brûlée is a fantastic dessert just by itself. It is a rich, creamy custard that is usually vanilla-flavored. Right before it is served, a thin layer of sugar is spread over the custard and a mini torch is used to melt and caramelize the sugar. This ice cream flavor has been on my "to make" list for awhile. Last Friday, my wife and I celebrated our 5-year wedding anniversary; and one of her requests was for me to make a Crème Brûlée Ice Cream. I was more than happy to grant her wish.
When you eat crème brûlée you have to break through the caramelized sugar layer to scoop into the creamy vanilla custard. In each bite, your mouth will have the soft silky custard texture and the crispy crunchy caramelized sugar -- it a great contrast to each other. The key to the ice cream is to replicate that crunchy caramel sugar topping to give you that distinct crème brûlée flavor.
To create my rendition of crème brûlée, I start off with a very custardy ice cream base.
7 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean split and scraped
1 pinch of salt
2 tbsp pure vanilla extract
Begin the base by warming the milk, 1/2 cup of heavy cream, sugar, salt and vanilla bean in a sauce pan over medium high heat. I basically doubled the amount of eggs I would normally use to create vanilla ice cream to give it a more custardy flavor. Once the milk and cream mixture comes to a low boil, temper the eggs yolks with the milk and cream. Pour the ice cream base back into the sauce pan and over medium heat bring the mixture up to 165 degrees, using an instant read thermometer. Make sure to stir the ice cream base constantly so that the custard doesn’t clump up and start sticking to the bottom of the sauce pan, which will ruin your ice cream base. Once the ice cream base reaches 165 degrees, pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a heat-safe bowl. Add in the remaining cream and vanilla extract and the place the ice cream base on an ice bath for 1 hour. This will help stop the cooking process on the ice cream base and keep it nice and smooth. Refrigerate the ice cream base for at least 4 hours. Then follow your ice cream maker instructions.
To replicate the crunchy caramel sugar topping, caramelize 1/2 cup of sugar in a small sauce pan. When caramelizing sugar, remember to give it your full attention, because it can quickly burn and then your caramel is ruined. Let the sugar melt over medium high heat and constantly stir the sugar. When the sugar starts melting, it will slowly start to caramelize and turn brown. Once it reaches a nice amber color, pour the caramel over a piece of aluminum foil. You want to make the caramel as thin as possible so it will be easier to crumble into the ice cream later. Let the caramel cool for a couple of hours. You can make this ahead of time so that when your ice cream is done churning, you can mix the caramel pieces.
Once have your ice cream churning in the machine, now is a good time break up the caramel into tiny pieces. To do this I peeled the caramel away from the foil and then put the pieces in between wax paper. I then used a meat tenderizer to shatter the caramel into tiny pieces. Place the shattered caramel pieces into a bowl. Once the ice cream has reached a soft serve consistency, scoop the ice cream into a bowl and then combine with the caramel pieces. For 1 pint of ice cream, I used 3 teaspoons of caramel pieces. I feel that this is a good ratio; but if you like more or less caramel pieces, it is totally up to you how much to include. You can reserve large pieces of caramel for garnishing your ice cream.
I really enjoyed this ice cream. The extra rich and creamy vanilla custard with bits of crunchy and toasty caramel capture the essence of a great crème brûlée.
Let me know if you have any questions.
Thank you for all of your comments and feedback. It is truly great to hear from you; and if you do try to make this dessert, please let me know how it turns out.