I am so grateful for the friends I’ve made through blogging. They’ve been there for me in times of joy and times of stress. I feel incredibly close to them, which is something most people (outside of the blogging world) don’t truly understand. That’s why, when my friend Annie texted me Thanksgiving morning to tell me her dad had passed away, I was heartbroken. You see, Annie has been a source of comfort for me when I had a problem I felt I could talk to no one else about. She was supportive and encouraging, and at that point we hadn’t even met yet. On the flip side, she was second only to Eric to find out about my pregnancy. The excited response she emailed me still makes me laugh. So when I saw several bloggers making comfort food for her, I was inspired to make this popcorn ice cream.
Like me, Annie is a big fan of popcorn. She’s even joked before about having to hide homemade caramel corn from herself. When I visited her in September, we made these popcorn and caramel macarons. That’s why I knew this recipe would be perfect for her. I know popcorn ice cream may seem a little odd, but it’s really quite delicious. It has a flavor similar to kettle corn on its own, and the salted caramel – you guessed it – makes it taste more like caramel corn. This recipe only makes a small amount of ice cream, which is perfect for a novel flavor such as this one.
Annie, I’m still thinking about you and sending a big, virtual hug your way. If I could send along a bowl of this ice cream, I definitely would. Since I can’t, it will just have to go on the list of things to make next time we see each other.
Popcorn Ice Cream with Salted Butter Caramel Sauce
Makes about 1 pint
For the ice cream:
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
3/4 to 1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
60 grams prepared popcorn (1/3 cup unpopped kernels if you want to make your own)
For the caramel:
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup plus 4 teaspoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon salted butter
1/8 teaspoon fleur de sel or coarse sea salt
Combine the milk, cream, sugar and popcorn in a large saucepan set over medium heat. Cook until edges begin to bubble. Cover, remove from heat, and allow to steep for 30 minutes at room temperature.
Strain the milk mixture through a fine mesh strainer, pressing on the popcorn to remove as much liquid as possible. Whisk together the egg and vanilla in a medium bowl. Slowly pour the warm liquid over the egg mixture, whisking constantly, then pour the mixture back into the saucepan. Continue cooking over medium heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Strain and cool in an ice bath, then chill completely in the refrigerator. Freeze the mixture in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions.
While the ice cream is churning, make the caramel. In a large, deep saucepan, spread the sugar in an even layer and place over low to medium low heat. Watch it carefully. Once it starts to liquefy around the edges, use a rubber spatula to very gently stir it towards the center. Continue gently stirring until all of the sugar is melted, but take care not to over stir.
Once the caramel reaches a deep amber color, immediately remove it from the heat. Carefully whisk in half the cream, which will bubble and steam quite violently. Stir until the cream is thoroughly combined, then whisk in remaining cream. Stir in the butter and salt. If any sugar has hardened, place the saucepan back over low heat and whisk until smooth.
The caramel sauce can be stored, refrigerated, for one month. To rewarm, simply microwave or place in a saucepan over low heat.
Source: As seen on Almost Bourdain, caramel adapted from The Sweet Life In Paris by David Lebovitz