Wednesday, November 10, 2010

November 3-4, 2010: Salted caramel icecream: vegans' revenge

I'm a little fearful that that beige-and-blue just-barely focused photo above isn't going to keep your attention for long.  But seriously, you guys, this is one of my proudest moments in the kitchen in a long time.

David Lebovitz's salted butter caramel icecream? I done veganised it.  And dramatically reduced the number of kitchen implements I used in the process.

Here's my formulae:
  butter -> Nuttelex (obviously) 
  milk + cream + egg yolks -> coconut milk + arrowroot.

I haven't tasted the two recipes side by side, but I reckon what we have here is a pretty good match.  And it's that much easier that I won't be looking back.  I didn't even strain it.

I had a slightly different experience with the caramel this time round.  I used our smallest gas burner with a heat diffuser on top and felt much more in control of browning, but not burning, the caramel.  But then when I poured the toffee out it didn't want to spread far so it set in a very thick sheet, was difficult to break up, and remained too crunchy in the icecream.  I also stupidly forgot to add the salt to the caramel in the saucepan and sprinkled it over the setting toffee.  This made repeated taste-testing of the toffee irresistible but didn't carry quite so well to the finished icecream.

One final cooking note - this icecream is crazy-sweet.  I'll experiment with reducing the quantity of sugar in future batches and work out what level I like best.  But don't hesitate to try this version of the recipe now now now.

Vegan salted caramel icecream
(adapted from David Lebovitz's salted butter caramel icecream)

mix-in toffee
spray oil
100g castor sugar
3/4 teaspoon sea salt, ideally some fancy fleur de sel

300g castor sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (again, fleur de sel preferable)
60g Nuttelex or other vegan margarine
2 x 400mL cans coconut milk
1 generous tablespoon arrowroot
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Line a baking tray with paper and spray it lightly with oil.  To make the toffee, place the sugar in a saucepan and melt it over moderate, even heat.  Don't stir it too often or vigorously, but go ahead and shift the liquid bits out of the way to encourage the solid bits to melt quicker.  Continue cooking the sugar until it is all liquid and brown, until it just starts smoking.

As efficiently as you can, sprinkle the salt over the caramel and pour it all onto the baking tray.  Lift and tilt the tray to get the thinnest layer of toffee you can - it doesn't have to be a pretty shape or single sheet.  Set it aside to set completely.

Now for the custard!  Repeat exactly the same caramel-making process with the sugar in a medium-large saucepan.  Take it off the heat when it's time to add the salt, and whisk in the margarine too.  Next, gradually whisk in the coconut milk.  Return the saucepan to a moderate heat to help evenly melt the coconut fat through the mix.  The caramel may harden again but be patient, it will re-melt over the heat.  Sift in a generous tablespoon of arrowroot and bring the mixture to the boil. Take it off the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.

Cool the mixture, refrigerating it overnight so that it's completely chilled.

When the custard is ready, churn it in an icecream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.  Crumble the toffee into little pieces (DL suggests 1cm in size) and stir it into the finished frozen custard.  Transfer it all to a container and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.


  1. You are my favourite person right now! I am going to bookmark this then wait patiently until I upgrade my ice cream maker and then I will be able to make this and I'll be the happiest vegan around :)

    THANK YOU! <3

  2. Drooooooling... looks amazing.

  3. You are 74 types of awesome right now. That's right. 74. For the number of times I drooled while reading this.

  4. Looks great, ice cream potluck?

  5. making caramel, veganising icecream - you have my admiration - am sure it tastes great!

  6. Oh congratulations Cindy, this is fine, fine work. Good vegan ice-cream is one of those holy grails. And such an ambitious project. Good work.

  7. Ooh, salted caramel ice cream. Definitely want!!

  8. That sounds amazing! I really need to buy a new ice cream maker?!

  9. Sounds amazing. Any advice for those of us without an icecream maker?

  10. Hi Meredith! David Lebovitz is probably the best source again - he's written a post about making icecream without a machine.

  11. Note to self: I made this icecream again today and reduced the sugar in the custard to 200g. As long as there's chopped toffee through it, this is just fine.

    Damn, the humidity messed with that toffee though.

    1. I also skipped the Nuttelex entirely! No biggie.

  12. If I had the patience.. this would be MINE!! :P

    1. C'mon Mattheworbit... get that icecream churner out! YOU CAN DO IT!!