Happy October! I can't believe we're in October already, it feels like it was only yesterday we were all wearing shorts and flip flops and pretty sundresses and going for sunny walks in the park. I still see some people are doing that though…walking around Riverside park and campus in what looks like a summer outfit. Not ok. It's just not that time of the year anymore. Sorry. However. The weather has pretty schizophrenic lately, cold one day and warm the next, and I guess I got a bit of that crazy weather bug. That's why I made you guys ice cream.
I know it's October. I said that at the very beginning of this post. Some people may say it's no longer ice cream season, but whatever. I don't believe in such things. It is always appropriate to have ice cream. Especially caramel apple ice cream. Now that just sounds delicious, and perfectly autumnal to me, so technically…I'm not crazy. This ice cream works for right now.
I went home this past weekend for what I thought would be a somewhat relaxing time away from classes, work, and the like, and to get myself back in the kitchen to bake some yummy treats. Let me tell you, that is not what happened. Oh yes, I did get away from classes, work, and the like, and I did bake a lot of yummy treats (stay tuned for those!) but it was anything but relaxing. This weekend was on the same level of relaxation as the week leading up to a design studio final review is- anything but relaxing. I always end up taking on too many projects, because I have too many ideas, and I end up driving myself crazy, and doubting if everything will be finished, but in the end, everything gets done and it all looks (and tastes, in this case) amazing, and there's that huge feeling of accomplishment at the end that's not half bad. The weekend was tough, but still lots of fun and on Saturday night I got to sit down to this lovely bowl of ice cream and for a brief moment, I managed to catch my breath. So let's talk ice cream now.
This ice cream…let me just say that it might actually be my favorite ice cream that I've made thus far. I love anything with chocolate, and chocolate ice cream of any sort will always be my number one choice, but I don't know if that still applies anymore. This ice cream was just too good. You could taste the apples in every bite, and there was a really lovely caramel flavor that came out once you got past the apples. The ice cream is super simple to make. It's basically a regular custard-style ice cream, and then you throw in a bunch of of caramelized apples and blend everything together. Delicious. The original recipe suggests passing the mixture through a strainer after blending in order to get a smooth texture at the end, but I chose to skip this step, because I wanted there to be a little bit of apple texture to the ice cream. My mom wants to make this ice cream again, but she wants to strain it to make it smooth, so I'll get to see if the straining is really necessary or not. Either way, I think the ice cream will still be equally delicious. Same goes for the bourbon. I put in a tablespoon to start, and I liked the way it tasted. My mom thought it could have used a little more, but this is totally based on your own preferences. Add one tablespoon, or two, or just omit if you want. Don't add too much though. If you do, you may end up having a hard time freezing your ice cream, as alcohol will lower the freezing point of the ice cream, making it harder to freeze.
This ice cream was super yummy. Reallyyyy super yummy. Please make it. You'll enjoy it.
Caramel Apple Ice Cream with Brown Sugar Caramel Sauce
For the Caramelized Apples
4-5 large granny smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into quarters.
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon bourbon
For the Custard
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 vanilla bean (you can use extract if you like, but a vanilla bean really makes a difference)
1/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
4 egg yolks
1-2 tablespoons bourbon, based on your preference
For the Brown Sugar Caramel Sauce
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter
splash of bourbon (based on your preference)
To make the caramelized apples, melt the butter in a medium nonstick skillet. Add the sugar, and cook until the sugar begins to melt. Add the apple quarters to the skillet, and cook over medium-low heat until the apples are evenly coated in the sugar sauce and nicely caramelized. Add bourbon to the apples, and cook several minutes more to allow the alcohol to evaporate and loosen the caramel. Remove from the heat, and allow the apples to cool completely.
To make the custard for the ice cream, begin by heating up the milk and the milk and cream in a heavy bottomed sauce pan. Split a vanilla bean down the middle, and scrape the seeds into the sauce pan. Heat over medium heat, making sure to stir occasionally, until the mixture is simmering. In the meantime, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, and salt in a heat-proof bowl. Once the milk has simmered, reduce the heat to low, and very gradually add the hot milk to the egg yolks, whisking vigorously. Be sure to add the milk very slowly to avoid scrambling the eggs. When all the milk has been added, return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture has thickened enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.
When the custard has thickened, remove from the heat, and stir in the desired amount of bourbon. Add all of the apples at once, and using an immersion blender, purée until all the apples have been broken up (if you do not have an immersion blender, simply add the custard in small batches to a regular blender). At this point, you can strain the mixture into a clean container, or leave it as is to give the ice cream more texture.
Allow the mixture to chill thoroughly (I put mine in the fridge for several hours), and then freeze in your ice cream maker, as per the manufacturer's instructions.
To prepare the brown sugar caramel sauce, combine the heavy cream, brown sugar, and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once the cream is boiling, reduce the heat to low, and let the mixture simmer until it has thickened slightly, about 15 minutes. Add a splash of bourbon, and let it cook several minutes more to evaporate the alcohol. Remove from the heat. The sauce can be served warm or at room temperature.