It’s over. It’s all gone. Hallelujah! Am I talking about 30 Days of Creativity or the amazing honey vanilla ice cream with decadent, dark, buttery caramel sauce? Since I still have more ice cream and sauce to enjoy tomorrow I’ll tell you, it isn’t that. I have to admit that I’m glad to be at the end of the 30 Days project.
But let’s talk about my project for today, my final creative offering for the month. When I assisted with a cooking class, the teacher, Tom Hudgens taught us to start with dessert because he said no matter what might go wrong with dinner, if you have a great dessert, that’s what you’re guests will remember. You want to be sure and get dessert made before you worry about the rest of the meal. Likewise, I wanted to have a sweet finish to what has ultimately been a sweet experience.
That seemed like a pretty straightforward idea but this has been one of my most frustrating projects! One of those that seemed to go wrong at every turn. My original idea was to make a really good vanilla ice cream, a really good caramel sauce and swirl the sauce into the ice cream. I also wanted a crunchy add-in and considered pretzels, peanuts, and toasted almonds before deciding on crushed waffle cone bits. That is how this has become a “Do as I say, not as I do” post. Don’t stir crushed waffle cones into your nice ice cream. They just become soggy bits and do nothing to improve the pairing. And please disregard the bits in the pictures. I love my readers, but it’s Day 30 and I don’t have the time (or energy) to whip up another batch of ice cream.
Luckily I started on the caramel sauce last night because the first batch seized up and had to be thrown away. I’m sorry, I didn’t capture any photos of it but you’ll have to take my word that it was a mess. When you get to the point that the sugar is melted and caramelized, you don’t have time to look for the measuring cup. It will continue to cook and can quickly go from done to burned.
I read a few more caramel recipes and notes about making caramel and this morning I tried again. YAY! It worked and boy, is it good. I mean this is why we go to Jazzercise! So we can enjoy the occasional dish of homemade honey vanilla ice cream drizzled with caramel sauce.
Rem some people don’t like caramel sauce, finding it too dark and bitter. We agree to disagree on this because I think it tastes wonderful, especially with this ice cream – the two seem to become greater together than they are individually. Anyway, back to Rem. If he doesn’t like caramel sauce that means more for me! All is not lost if you are not a fan of caramel. Just make the honey vanilla ice cream (which is pretty incredible by itself) and have it on a cone.
Or in a dish. Both are good. But remember, don’t stir in any crushed waffle cones. Best to eat the cones as they were designed to be eaten: not crushed into the ice cream but with ice cream in them.
This is a custard-style ice cream with egg yolks in it. Many ice creams have more heavy cream in them but this is icy yet the cornstarch keeps it creamy, letting the honey-vanilla flavors shine.
Honey Vanilla Ice Cream
Adapted from The Commonsense Kitchen Cookbook by Tom Hudgens
1/3 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
3 1/4 cups half and half
2 Tbsp honey
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped out
4 egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Mix sugar and cornstarch together in medium sized heavy saucepan until there are no lumps. Pour in half and half, and add the honey, salt and the seeds and pod of the split vanilla bean. Slowly bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until foamy on top and steaming.
Whisk the egg yolks in a small bowl. Very slowly whisk in about 1 cup of the hot half and half mixture, then slowly whisk this mixture back into the saucepan of hot half and half. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes more over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until steaming hot and slightly thickened.
Remove from the heat and let cool, continue to stir frequently for about 5 minutes. Remove vanilla bean pod and discard. Let cool to room temperature. Stir in the vanilla extract and chill thoroughly, preferably overnight. Freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturers instructions. Serve immediately, while still soft and creamy or pack the ice cream into a container, put in the freezer, and let it freeze hard.
My first try at caramel sauce ended in disaster. In the version I tried both cream and butter were added with the cream going in first. Well, the volume of cold heavy cream going into the super hot pan of molten, melted sugar ended up causing the whole thing to seize and stay separate instead of blending into the decadent dessert I imagined.
When I compared several caramel sauce recipes one thing I noticed was most added the butter first and then the cream, and one also suggested warming the cream before melting the sugar. This should prevent the problem I had with my first batch. The other important tip is to have everything ready to go when you reach to point to add them, so you want your butter and cream measured and ready.
I didn’t read anything about making a larger batch but I doubled the following recipe and found I was having a problem with sugar crystals that I ended up having to strain out of the sauce. I think it was from having too-large a batch. It is possible that the heat was uneven or the pot not thick enough. But in the end I got the results I was looking for: a flavor akin to the caramelized sugar that tops Creme Brulee. Delicious.
Adapted from Elise at Simply Recipes
1 cup sugar
5 Tbsp butter
1/2 C heavy whipping cream
Heat sugar on moderately high heat in a large saucepan. As the sugar begins to melt, stir vigorously with a whisk or wooden spoon. As soon as the sugar comes to a boil, stop stirring. Swirl the pan a bit from this point on.
As soon as the sugar crystals have melted and turned a dark amber color, add the butter to the pan and whisk until the butter has melted.
One the butter has melted, remove the pan from the heat. Slowly add the cream to the pan and whisk to incorporate. Adding the sugar and the cream will cause foaming in the panWhisk until caramel sauce is smooth. (if necessary, pour sauce through a fine mesh sieve to remove any lumps of sugar). Let cool in the pan for a few minutesThis will keep nicely in a jar in the refrigerator. I saw a note that said it would keep for a month. Not at my house!
The 30 Days of Creativity have come to an end. I was in great company with so many other creative people. I loved and continue to enjoy looking through the wonderful photos on Pinterest. I’m delighted with all the great comments and support I’ve received and also with my growing list of subscribers.
I will certainly continue to be creative and share that here. But not every day. And not tomorrow. I will be having a giveaway of some of my 30 Days creations, so watch for that and thanks for stopping by.