Our old life was situated in a cool inner city suburb with cracking views. We had friends that we met out a couple of times a week for dinners and cocktails and I’d laugh at my own jokes for hours. We could pop out for dinner any night of the week, and pick up milk (and a hooker or some crack) on a street corner 24 hours a day.
Of all the things that have fallen by the wayside, I don’t miss the bars, not at all. Nor do I miss the restaurants, well, not really. Ok, maybe a little bit. I look back fondly at the people left behind and I feel a hint of nostalgia, but I don’t miss our old neighbourhood……except when it comes to Messina.
Messina is an ice cream shop in Darlinghurst. We used to live a 15 minute walk away, and I used that walk as an excuse to get a big ass double scoop.
My very first experience with Messina was the Pear and Rhubarb Gelato. It really tasted just as the name suggested and I fell head over heels in love with the autumnal flavours of the summery ice cream. It was the beginning of a passionate affair. Initially, I couldn’t go beyond that one flavour but the specials board, changed weekly, enticed me to stray from my first love…. There was ‘Elvis, The Fat Years’ – Banana Cake in a Peanut Butter Ice cream with Strawberry jelly swirl. That shit would give you a heart attack on the toilet fo’ shizz.
Coconut and Pandan, Rose Water and Pistachio, Passionfruit Pavlova, Poached Figs in Marsala, the mouth watering list goes on and on……and then, one day, they made Salt Caramel and White Chocolate Chip.
Anyway, this got me to fantasising about flavours that I would concoct and I decided I needed to get me an ice cream machine. Pronto.
Raspberry White Chocolate was a fail….Lemon and Elderberry Sorbet? Ballsed it….then I cracked it.
Chai was a roaring success, as was Liquorice. Turkish Delight was indeed delightful, Apricot Coconut was a garden party in your mouth….then I put my ice cream machine away on a shelf and forgot about it.
Until now. That Salt Caramel Ice cream has been on my mind, so I thought the only way to get my hands on it, was make it. I thought winter was as good a time as any to get cracking and make some seriously bad-for-you goodness. I based this on a David Lebovitz recipe….. next time I would use only half the praline as it all melted and created a caramel sauce in the bottom that is SERIOUS! Not bad, just SERIOUS!
Because of the caramel content in this ice cream, it’ll remain softer than usual. To make it firmer, crank up your freezer a bit or store it in a shallow container.
For the caramel praline –
For the ice cream custard –
2 cups whole milk, divided
1½ cups sugar
4 tablespoons (60 gr) salted butter
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 cup heavy cream
5 large egg yolks, 0r 6 medium
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
To make the caramel praline, put ½ cup of sugar in an even layer in a medium-sized, heavy duty saucepan.
Put some baking paper on a flat baking tray. Heat the sugar over a medium heat until the edges begin to melt. Gently stir the edges to the middle until it has all dissolved. Continue to cook stirring infrequently until the caramel starts smoking and begins to smell like it’s just about to burn.
You need to take it a little further than you think to ensure a rich caramel flavour. It won’t take long.
Without hesitation, sprinkle in the ¾ teaspoon salt without stirring, then pour the caramel onto the prepared baking sheet and lift up the baking sheet immediately, tilting and swirling it to get a nice, thin layer.
ACHTUNG!! Be careful – I spilt a wad of it, and tried to catch it. It’s hot and it sticks. Set aside to harden and cool.
To make your ice cream custard, make an ice bath by filling a large bowl about a third full with ice cubes and adding a cup or so of water so they’re floating. Nest a smaller metal bowl (at least 1.5 litres) over the ice, pour 1 cup of the milk into the inner bowl to chill.
Spread ½ cup sugar in the saucepan in an even layer. Cook over moderate heat, until caramelized, using the same method as before. Once it’s started melting, add the rest of the sugar bit by bit. Once caramelized, remove from heat and stir in the butter and salt, until butter is melted, then gradually whisk in the cream, stirring as you go.
The caramel may get a bit chunky and sticky, but return it to the heat and continue to stir over low heat until any hard caramel is melted.
Stir in 1 cup of the milk.
Whisk the yolks in a small bowl and gradually pour some of the warm caramel mixture over the yolks, stirring constantly. Scrape the warmed yolks back into the saucepan and cook the custard using a heatproof utensil, stirring constantly (scraping the bottom as you stir) until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon.
Pour the custard into the milk set over the ice bath, add the vanilla, then stir frequently until the mixture is cooled down. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. Pop into your ice cream machine and churn as per directions.
While the ice cream is churning, break the hardened caramel praline into millions of little bits. Once your caramel ice cream is churned, quickly stir in the crushed caramel, then chill in the freezer until firm.
Note: As the ice cream sits, the little bits of caramel may liquefy and get runny and gooey, which is what they’re intended to do – unless you’re me and they all sink to the bottom and create a bed of goo.