Today I want to wish my brother Ryan a very Happy Birthday! He's an amazing older brother, and an wonderful father, and hopefully he has an awesome day today because he deserves it! And hopefully he doesn't mind me sharing his age with you, because this birthday cake ain't telling no lies.
Last weekend we had a Birthday Dinner for Ryan, which included boozy cocktails, bacon wrapped appetizers, a manly meal of steak and asparagus, and of course, dessert. I debated for a while over what kind of dessert to make, and finally decided I wanted to go the classic birthday layer cake route. Because what's better than having a cake with candles to blow out? Well besides having a little helper to assist you in blowing them out.
I decided to go with a vanilla layer cake with chocolate cream filling and white chocolate whipped cream frosting, which seemed like it would appeal to everyone.
And for the most part it was tasty, but the cake layers themselves were a little dry for my liking. It didn't really matter though, because it was this ice cream that stole the show. Imagine the creamiest vanilla ice cream, swirled with layers of a salted caramel that creates an intoxicating combination of salty and sweet that will make you swoon. You will seriously have to be careful with this one, because the flavors are so addicting that it's difficult to stop. And that's coming from someone who's not an ice cream lover, but I think this particular ice cream could definitely convert me.
If nothing else, please, please, do yourselves the ultimate favor and make this glorious salted butter caramel sauce. Especially if you are a fan of salty and sweet in desserts, because this is the ultimate version of that. The salt is definitely not timid in this sauce, so if you are a little wary, start with a 1/2 teaspoon and work your way up from there. Trust me when I tell you though that layered in a vanilla ice cream, that salt works magic with the sweetness, and richness of the ice cream. This sauce could work wonders on all sorts of desserts; drizzled on top of an apple spice cake, swirled into a chocolate milkshake, or just poured on top of your favorite ice cream. Really, I can't think of anything it wouldn't be good on, and you won't be able to either.
Vanilla Ice Cream with Salted Butter Caramel
Adapted from The Perfect Scoop
Makes about 1 Quart
For the Vanilla Ice Cream
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
Pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
6 large egg yolks
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Warm the milk, sugar, 1 cup of the cream, and salt in a medium saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the warm milk and add the bean as well. Cover, remove from the heat, and let steep at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Pour the remaining 1 cup cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.
Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula or wooden spoon, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. Put the vanilla bean into the custard, add the vanilla extract, and stir until cool over an ice bath.
Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator (at least overnight). When ready to churn, remove the vanilla bean, and then freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. During the final minutes of churning, pour in approximately 1 cup of the salted butter caramel (recipe below), or layer the caramel between the ice cream when you put it away in a container.
For the Salted Butter Caramel
6 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon coarse salt (kosher or sea salt work well)
Melt the butter in a large, deep heavy-duty saucepan or Dutch oven. Stir in the sugar and cook, stirring frequently, until the sugar is deep golden brown and starts to smoke.
Remove from the heat and immediately whisk in half of the cream until smooth (wear an oven mitt, since the mixture will steam and splatter and may bubble up furiously). Stir in the rest of the cream, then the vanilla and salt. If there are any lumps of caramel, whisk the sauce gently over low heat until they're dissolved.
The sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. If using as a sauce for ice cream, gently rewarm it in a microwave or stir it in a saucepan over very low heat.