Caramel Ice Cream | with xanthan gum
Caramel Ice Cream
with xanthan gum

For best results, use a digital kitchen scale and measure the ingredients directly into the utensils, as you proceed with the recipe. Avoid weighing in one utensil and transferring to another, as this causes a small, but important loss of quantity, especially in liquids.

If you have a kitchen scale, weigh the ingredients instead of measuring them by cup; it provides accurate results, very much needed in ice cream making.

If you do not have a kitchen scale, follow these guidelines:

1 cup (US) = 237 ml | 1 Tbs. = 15 ml

– Sugar: measuring sugar in tablespoons is more accurate than measuring it in cups. Do not use a regular tablespoon: you need a 15 ml measuring tablespoon; this is 12 gr of sugar. To measure, scoop the sugar to fill the tablespoon, then level it with the flat side of a knife. Repeat scooping and levelling.
Do not convert the sugar into cups with the usual “1 cup=200 grams” conversion; this is too much sugar, which results in sloppy ice cream.

– Milk & cream: make sure that you thoroughly scrape with a rubber spatula the cup every time you measure something and empty it.

You can find xanthan gum in speciality shops, health food stores and online. It should contain only xanthan gum and no additional ingredients. 

You can adjust the quantity of the xanthan gum in the recipe to your liking, depending on the texture you want to achieve:

  • To slightly stabilise the ice cream without affecting its texture and mouthfeel much, use 1/4 teaspoon (0.7 gr; 0.025 oz; this is 0.06% in total weight of ice cream mixture) xanthan gum and decrease the sugar by 10 gr; 0.35 oz.
  • To create a firmer texture, which has a fuller body and mouthfeel, use 1/2 teaspoon (1.5 gr; 0.05 oz; this is 0.12% in total weight of ice cream mixture) as per the recipe.
  • For a stretchy texture similar to Booza/salep ice cream, use 1 teaspoon xanthan gum (2.7 gr; 0.1 oz; this is 0.22% in total weight of ice cream mixture) and increase the sugar in the recipe by 15 gr (0.5 oz.)

Only use whole milk (this is around 3.5% fat). Do not substitute with skimmed milk or plant-based milk.

Use heavy cream with 35-40% fat content and of pourable consistency. “Ultra-pasteurised cream” and “cream suitable for whipping” with 35-40% fat are ok, too. Avoid any cream which contains sugar or other sweeteners. Do not substitute with low-fat cream or plant-based cream.

Only use regular sugar (white granulated sugar). CarNo other sugar or sweetener can be turned to caramel.

A flexible rubber spatula is good for:

-wiping the bottom of the saucepan when cooking dairy on the stovetop.

-scraping residues from bowls, saucepans etc.
If you do not have one, I strongly encourage you to buy one, preferably a flexible one.

Plan ahead:

Make the caramel and the ice cream mixture (steps 1-4) one day before churning it.

If your ice cream maker has a removable freezer bowl, put it in the freezer for the whole time indicated by the manufacturer before churning, usually 24 hours.

Step 1: Prepare the caramel

Spread a piece of parchment paper next to the stovetop. It should be a little bit larger than the size of the skillet you will melt the sugar in.

In a medium, heavy-bottomed skillet, pour the sugar. Place it over medium to high heat and keep an eye on it.

When it starts to melt in the centre and caramelises, reduce the heat to medium and remove from the heat for a few moments. Gently shake the skillet to help the sugar evenly redistribute in the pan and return to the heat.

You may need to redistribute the sugar a few more times; you can use a spatula to do so, by gently pushing the unmelted sugar over the hottest and most active spots.

When you see spots turning too brown, gently draw unmelted sugar over them to avoid the sugar burning on those spots.

By gently relocating sugar this way, you will quickly have a fluid beige liquid with a uniformly caramel-coloured liquid.

When all the sugar has melted and the caramel is perfectly fluid, which you will know, as it will flow back beautifully each time you scrape the bottom of the pan with a spatula, remove from the heat and immediately pour over the parchment paper.

Important note: working with a silicone spatula ensures that you will have the right amount needed for your recipe, as silicone spatulas scrape out any remains of sugar which will otherwise stick to the pan.

Leave the caramel to harden and cool, about one hour. Putting it on a wire rack always helps to cool it faster.

Prepare ahead:

you can make the caramel the day before and up to 10 days before. Store in a solid piece, sandwiched between two sheets of parchment paper, in an airtight bag, to protect from humidity.

If you make the caramel ahead of time, wait until you are ready to use it, before proceeding to step 2.

Step 2: Make the caramel powder

When the caramel is completely cool to the touch, break it into pieces and pulverise it in a food processor, which should be completely dry and free of humidity.

Put 200 gr (7 oz.) of caramel powder in a bowl and cover immediately with a plate.

Put the rest of the caramel powder into a small, airtight and completely dry container and immediately seal well. This will be used later, in Step 5.

Step 3: Make the ice cream mixture

If you do not have a thermometer, following the instructions in this step is a foolproof way to bring the ingredients to 52°C/ 125°F before sprinkling the xanthan gum. To sum it up, all we do is combine half of the blend at fridge-cold temperature and the other half at boiling-hot temperature. And that’s it. The blend instantly reaches approx. 52°C/ 125°F  (minor fluctuations in temperature are perfectly fine), which is our target temperature for the xanthan gum to dissolve efficiently.

If you have an instant-read/infrared thermometer, you can skip the instructions in this step and  do this instead: warm the milk, cream and sugar to 60°C/ 140°F, stirring to dissolve the sugar. With the blender on, sprinkle the xanthan gum over the surface and blend for 2 minutes to hydrate the gum.

In this step, we add the xanthan gum to the blender while the blender is running. But some blenders run aggressively, splitting out their content when you remove the lid, so you may want to check beforehand how smoothly your blender runs with 1200 ml of water; you should be able to remove the blender lid without any water split out.
Alternatively, you can use an immersion blender, keeping it submerged at all times to avoid the formation of foam on the surface.

Pour the cold heavy cream (435 gr; 15.3 oz.) and 1/3 of the cold milk (210 gr; 7.4 oz.; 210 ml) into the blender jar and place in the refrigerator to keep t cold.

Warm the rest of the milk with the caramel: in a medium saucepan, put the rest 2/3 of the milk (425 gr; 14.6 oz.) and warm over medium heat, stirring occasionally. When it becomes lightly steamy, start adding the 200 gr caramel powder (7 oz.) a tablespoon at a time, by sprinkling it over the surface of the hot milk and stirring with a silicone spatula between each addition.

The caramel powder will be prone to sticking to the tablespoon as you go; you may want to tap the spoon on the saucepan to remove some. When you are done with adding the caramel powder, leave the spoon in the saucepan to let any residues melt inside.

Bring to a boil: when all the sugar dissolves, increase the heat to medium-high and when the milk comes to a boil (95°C; 203°F; or when large bubbles which pop vigorously appear on the surface; or if it starts to overflow) immediately remove it from the heat and pour it into the blender jar with the cold cream.

Turn the blender on (medium speed). Note: by blending that much boiling hot milk with that much fridge-cold cream, the blend instantly reaches approx. 52°C; 131°F; this is a good temperature for the xanthan gum to dissolve efficiently. 

Add the xanthan gum and blend: with the blender on, sprinkle the xanthan gum (½ tsp.) over the surface and blend for 2 minutes to fully hydrate the xanthan gum. At this point, do not expect the blend to thicken; it will thicken as it cools.

Step 4Chill the ice cream mixture

Strain the ice cream mixture over a fine-mesh sieve and into a bowl.

Cool it down: prepare an ice bath by putting ice cubes and cold water in a large bowl and carefully nest the bowl with the ice cream mixture over it, taking care that no water slips into the ice cream mixture. Let it cool down for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Chill until completely cold: cover the bowl and refrigerate for at 8 hours or until completely cold; and up to 3 days.

When churning with a domestic ice cream maker, your ice cream mixture should always be fridge-cold. Otherwise, if the ice cream mixture is not cold enough, the ice cream maker may not churn it to its fullest potential, resulting in a sloppy liquid vs. fluffy ice cream.

Step 5: Churn the ice cream

Check the ice cream mixture if it is cold before churning: it should feel fridge-cold to the touch (if you have a thermometer, this is approx. 4ºC–12ºC; 39ºF-53F ). 

Prepare the ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. 

Stir: give a nice and thorough stir to the ice cream mixture with a rubber spatula. 

If the ice cream mixture is too thick (say, like yoghurt), give it a blitz with an immersion/regular blender before churning it.

Why do we do that? If the ice cream mixture is too thick, the ice cream maker may stop before it incorporates enough air into the ice cream. In this case, the ice cream will be sloppy instead of fluffy.

So if you are after fluffy ice cream, take the time to bring the ice cream mixture to a fluid (pourable) thickness before churning it.

If you feel unsure about the ice cream’s thickness, prefer to err on the side of fluid and give the ice cream mixture a blend nevertheless before churning it.

Churn: with the machine running, pour the ice cream mixture through the canister and into the ice cream makerLeave to churn until fluffed up and creamy; depending on your ice cream maker this can take anywhere from 30-60 minutes (see below).

When the ice cream is and has turned creamy and wavy, add the reserved caramel powder through the canistera spoonful at a time. Leave to churn for 8-10 minutes more, until the vanilla extract has been fully incorporated.

This ice cream will expand and fluff up during churning. It is ready when it looks smooth and fluffy. That could take anywhere from 30-60 minutes, depending on your ice cream maker.

To evaluate if it is ready, lift a spoonful; it should be thick enough to stand on the spoon, but it will be still soft like soft-serve ice cream. If you lift ice cream with the spoon and a pool immediately starts forming on its edges, you will have to churn it for longer.
In any case, if you feel doubts about the consistency, leave it to churn for ten minutes more. But beware: at this stage, do not expect it to be like store-bought carton ice cream; for now, it should be more like soft-serve ice cream. It will firm up and become like store-bought ice cream only after it sets in the freezer.

So, stop the ice cream maker when thick and creamy, as described above. If you leave to churn it for much longer, it will start turning grainy.

Warning: some ice cream makers are programmed to automatically stop after a specific length of time, which doesn’t make sense because the ice cream may need to churn for more to reach its fullest potential. So, if you notice that your ice cream maker stops on its own and upon checking the ice cream, you find that it is sloppy instead of fluffy, try to turn the machine on again and leave it to churn until it reaches the desired texture.

Step 6: Put the ice cream in the freezer to set

Put in the freezer to set: before serving the ice cream or moving it to a container for storing, you have to put it in the freezer to set. To do so, turn off the ice cream machine and: 

  • remove the removable freezer bowl (still filled with the ice cream) from the ice cream machine
  • remove the paddle, scraping any ice cream attached to it back into the ice cream bowl
  • cover the ice cream bowl and put it in the freezer to set

Setting time depends on the ice cream maker you use; see notes below for indicative times. Do not leave the freshly churned ice cream in a  removable freezer bowl for more than 5-6 hours or it will become too hard to scoop.; if this happens, read troubleshooting below:

The setting time for the ice cream largely depends on the type of ice cream maker you use.

It can take :

  • 3-5 hours for removable freezer bowls (these are the ice cream maker bowls which you should pre-freeze before churning)
  • 1-2 hours for aluminium bowls (these are the bowls from compressor ice cream makers)

Note: the times given are indicative. Setting time depends on many factors.

Check it occasionally (approx. every 2 hours; or as needed) while it is in the freezer. The ice cream is ready when it has an internal temperature of -11ºC / 12ºF. If you do not have a thermometer, to evaluate if the ice cream has set, insert a round tip knife into it, all the way to the bottom: 

  • when the ice cream is ready, it feels firm as you go down, but at the same time it is soft enough to insert the knife into it; it should have this same firm consistency from top to bottom.
  • not ready yet: it will feel hard on the top and softer as you go down
  • if left in the freezer for too long: it will be too hard for the knife to insert into it and too hard to scoop out of the ice cream bowl. Do not worry, though! Read right below how to soften it.

If the ice cream stays in the removable freezer bowl for too long, it will harden and be difficult to remove or serve.

To make it scoopable again, leave it in the refrigerator to soften. That can take:

  • anywhere from 4 to 10 hours for removable freezer bowls (the ones which need pre-freezing before churning)
  • 1-2 hours for aluminium bowls (these are the bowls from compressor ice cream makers)

(Note: the time given is indicative, time may vary depending on many factors, so do check it occasionally as it sits in the refrigerator.)

When the ice cream is easy to scoop (or it has an internal temperature of approx. -11°C / 12°F if you have a thermometer), you can transfer it to another container and store it in the freezer or serve it directly from the removable freezer bowl.

Straight after churning, the ice cream has a soft-serve consistency and melts immediately upon contact with anything. This makes it impossible to serve or transfer to another container.

Putting it in the freezer after churning sets it and brings it to the right consistency, similar to that of an ice cream parlour’s.

Serve or store: when it sets, you can either serve it directly from the removable freezer bowl or transfer it to an airtight container for longer storing. 

Storing and serving

Storing: in the freezer for one month, covered well to protect it from absorbing the freezer’s smells. 

Scooping: this ice cream, like all artisanal ice creams, freezes hard in the long term. To soften it to a perfectly scoopable consistency, put it in the refrigerator for 45-60 minutes.

If you have an instant-read (or infrared) thermometer, the perfect serving temperature of this ice cream is when midway through the ice cream the thermometer reads approx. -11ºC / 12ºF. At this the temperature, the ice cream has a lovely mouthfeel and is perfectly scoopable.

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