Thursday, May 3, 2012

DIY Caramel or Turtle Ice Cream

It is no secret that I love caramel. This recipe and variations thereof have probably become my all time favorite ice cream. We made this together today to have for my birthday tomorrow. I basically used David Lebovit'z salted butter caramel ice cream recipe, but I broke it down into easier steps and came up with some variations of this recipe. Adding chocolate and walnuts to make this into turtle ice cream is even better, if that's possible.

To me, this recipe is easier to understand when it is broken down into several steps. Making hard caramel candy chips, making caramel sauce, turning the caramel sauce into a custard ice cream base, and freezing and adding desired additions. I am not sure if it would work, but you could try starting with a pint of store bought caramel and making the ice cream custard from that to save some work. Let me know if you try it how it turns out. However, homemade caramel is really so much better than store bought it might not be worth it anyway. And how can you go wrong with a ice cream base that has butter in it?

Homemade Caramel or Turtle Ice Cream Recipe

Recipe makes 1 generous quart or liter of ice cream

Hard Caramel Candy Chips
Pictures of this process here.
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  1. Line an 8x8 baking pan with parchment paper, or just get out a silicone baking pan to have ready nearby.
  2. In a very clean and dry saucepan, begin heating the sugar, stirring occasionally to keep it from burning.
  3. Continue heating the sugar, stirring occasionally, until it is all melted and has turned amber in color. Stirring too frequently can result in lumpy caramel. However, stirring too little or heating too long can cause the caramel to scorch and burn. This is really not difficult, but you do have to keep a close eye on this recipe.
  4. Once all of the sugar is melted and turned a beautiful amber, very carefully pour into prepared baking pan. Melted sugar is extremely hot so be careful not to burn yourself. Wearing oven mitts and a long sleeved shirt is a good precaution.
  5. Spread out the melted sugar with a spatula to cover the entire bottom of the pan.
  6. After the caramel has cooled and hardened, break it into pieces. You can use a mortar and pestle, rolling pin, meat tenderizer, or even your hands (if you are really determined) for this step.
  7. Set aside caramel chips to mix into ice cream later.
Caramel Sauce
(Pictures of this process here.)

  • 1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (4 Tbsp) butter
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  1. Begin by placing sugar in a medium to large saucepan over low heat. Even though this recipe only makes about 1 pint of sauce altogether, you need a much bigger saucepan because the caramelized sugar will bubble and foam up a lot when you add the butter and cream, and you don't want to get burned.
  2. Melt all of the sugar completely, stirring and swirling the pot as necessary to keep it from burning. Be aware that too much stirring can make the final product a little lumpy.
  3. Once all of the sugar is melted, add the butter carefully and stir to combine. Some of the caramel may harden and seize, but if you just keep stirring it over low heat, it will melt into liquid again.
  4. Then add the cream a little at a time because this is when the mixture will really bubble up. The caramel will harden again, but just keep stirring over low heat until it melts. 
Custard Base
  1. To the caramel sauce, add 1 cup of milk to the sauce and stir over low heat until well combined.
  2. Put five egg yolks in a small bowl and whisk egg yolks. Begin adding some of the warm milk mixture to the egg yolks. When the egg yolk mixture is warm, add it into the milk mixture, and continue heating over low heat, stirring frequently until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula or spoon.
  3. In a heat- and freezer-safe mixing bowl, add one cup of cold milk and then the custard. Mix until well combined. Chill until mixture has cooled.
  4. At this point, you can freeze the ice cream in an ice cream maker if you have one. Or if you don't have an ice cream freezer, simply mix all ingredients in a freezer safe bowl or pan and place in your regular freezer. After about 30–60 minutes, check on the ice cream, and stir vigorously with a spatula or hand mixer to break up the ice crystals. Repeat this process every 30–45 minutes until the ice cream is frozen well. In general, the more you break up the ice crystals, the longer it will take for the ice cream to freeze, but the smoother the end result will be. There is a lot more information on making ice cream and frozen yogurt on David Lebovitz's site.
  5. When the ice cream is semi set mix in caramel chips for all caramel ice cream. 
For Turtle Ice Cream
Make caramel ice cream as directed above.
Mix in:
  • Caramel chips like directed above
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips or chunks
  • 1/2 cup walnuts

Place in Freezer to set up more before serving. This is the one homemade ice cream that I make that stays somewhat soft even in our freezer which is very cold. The high sugar content of the caramel gives it this wonderful soft and rich consistency.


  1. Oh, my gosh! That looks awesome!

  2. Thank you for putting in tips on if you don't have an ice cream maker! Most recipes I see for ice cream always say "now put in ice cream maker and follow instructions." Which would be great, if we had an ice cream maker. I think I am going to try this! Thanks for the recipe!


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