I know why the late, great James Beard was, in today's parlance, a "gentleman of size". The ingredients in this ice cream, as well as the previous one of his, tell me all I need to know. And yet, it's so sinfully delicious that one finds onesself willing to risk additional girth to eat food a la James Beard.
This doesn't taste like Brach's caramels, but it's very rich. My husband thought it was some kind of coffee ice cream, because it was a little bitter, but 2 of my sons liked it. For the record, my youngest child doesn't like anything. No, he likes brownies, orange juice, hot dogs and Nutella (although he hates sandwiches), so I disregard his opinions. If he says something's "not too bad", that's high praise indeed. (sigh) Thank goodness his brother is here to display enthusiasm!
JAMES BEARD'S CARAMEL ICE CREAM
1 cup sugar
1 cup boiling water
3 cups cream
1/3 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla
5/8 cup caramel syrup
In a saucepan or heavy skillet, melt the sugar, shaking the pan occasionally, but not stirring (the sugar will stick to everything!). When it's melted, stir in the boiling water. Warning: it will spit. Wear your cooking mittens. You'll be clumsy, but you'll be safe. Cook until thickened, 8 to 10 minutes, over medium heat (about 240F on a candy thermometer, which I don't have). This makes the caramel syrup.
While the caramel syrup cooks, heat 1-1/2 cups cream to boiling on the stove, or in the microwave. I used the microwave, as I do with all of my custard based ice cream. It works fine, and it's one less pan to clean. ( I really hate cleanup, and I really hate looking at dirty pans in my sink. I digress.) Add the 1/3 cup sugar to the cream, and heat to dissolve the sugar. Stir some of the hot mix into the lightly beaten egg yolks, then whisk them into the cream. Cook in the microwave for 4 to 6 minutes, whisking every 30 to 45 seconds, until the custard mix thickens. Don't let this mixture boil, or the eggs will curdle. When it coats the back of the spoon, it's done. Let it sit on the counter for a few minutes to cool, then add the salt, vanilla and the balance of the cream. Stir in 5/8 cup of the caramel syrup made in the previous step, and cool for 2 to 3 hours. Process according to your ice cream maker's directions. When you're ready to serve, the balance of the caramel syrup can be reheated in the microwave, and spooned over the individual helpings of ice cream (although I skipped this step). Warning: this ice cream is so rich that you'll be able to eat about half of what you normally eat from a store-bought container.
Since my dearly beloved didn't like this as much as some others, I'd probably add a bit more sugar to the custard mix, and a bit less caramel syrup, but I'm pretty sure this will make the list of "gotta have it" again. And, of course, since it was snowing last night, ice cream was a perfect dessert, don't you think?