Beer inspired me to make this ice cream, bourbon barrel-aged beer to be more specific. You see, I’m expecting, and every time my husband pours a creamy stout or hoppy IPA into a glass, I swoon. Forget wine. I miss beer.
So, since absence makes the heart grow fonder, I felt inspired to make my husband a birthday ice cream that reminds me of him…and yummy delicious beer: Bourbon Oak Vanilla Ice Cream with Caramel Swirl & Fumée de Sel. It’s a creamy custard based ice cream that entertains everything I miss about some of our favorite beers to drink (and brew) at home: vanilla bean up front, a sweet caramel malt, and the toasty, dynamic flavors and intoxicating aroma that accompany bourbon barrel-aged goodness.
Fumée de Sel seems like it was made specifically for dishes like this. If you’re not familiar, it’s a French harvested, Chardonnay Oak Smoked Fleur de Sel. In other words, a really fancy smoked sea salt. In the recipe below, I’ve only recommended two pinches which is standard for ice cream; however, if you love salty ice cream, you can always finish your scoops with a little extra pinch or two, just be careful not to overpower all of the other indulgent flavors going on here.
This is a truly divine dessert that pairs a little bit of French elegance with something so ruggedly American that you can serve it up with a Cherry Clafoutis or a Southern Peach Cobbler. Want to really make your head spin? Put a scoop in a creamy milk stout for a beer float. I know, it just seems wrong. But do it, anyway.
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup oak chips: food grade, not the stuff from Home Depot :)
- seeds from one vanilla bean pod
- 1/4 tsp (about two pinches) Fumée de Sel
- 5 egg yolks
- 250 - 375 milliliters of bourbon (You'll need just enough to cover the chips so they can become fully saturated. I recommend choosing a dryer bourbon. I used Buffalo Trace)
- 1/4 cup of caramel
- Soak oak chips in bourbon for about 24 hours (I recommend a dry bourbon since there is plenty of sweet going on in the ice cream. I used Buffalo Trace.)
- Heat milk, cream, sugar, and vanilla in a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat until almost boiling.
- Strain oak chips from bourbon.
- Remove the pot from heat and immediately add oak chips. Cover and steep 20-30 minutes, depending on how strong you want the bourbon and oak flavor.
- While you're waiting, slice open a vanilla bean pod and scrape out the seeds. Set aside.
- Grab the eggs from the fridge, separate 5 egg yolks and set aside, warming to room temperature
- Using a sieve and heat proof bowl, strain ice cream, making sure no bits of wood chips get into your base. Whisk in vanilla beans and Fumée de Sel after strained.
- Return mixture to medium heat.
- Whisk egg yolks in a bowl. Once the milk is hot again, slowly pour a quarter cup of it into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Do this a few more times until you've got about 1 cup of hot milk whisked into the egg yolks allowing them to warm and slower temper. Now, slowly whisk this egg mixture back into the milk on the heat, stirring constantly.
- Stirring constantly cook the custard over medium heat until it reaches at 170° F and thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.
- Remove custard from heat and strain into a heat proof bowl. Chill thoroughly, a minimum of three hours, over night is ideal. Churn in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturers instructions. I like medium hard ice cream, which took about 40 minutes of churning in a Breville Smart Scoop.
- Once it's done churning, you will easily be able to spoon the ice cream out into the container for freezing.
- To create the caramel swirl spoon a thin layer of ice cream in your containing and drizzle caramel on it, layer more ice cream, drizzle more caramel, and so on. Run the sharp tip of a knife through it to make it look extra marble-like. Make sure your caramel is room temperature for ease of drizzling.
- If you don't have a preferred way to make caramel, I opted for this really simple one by the pioneer woman: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2014/01/easy-caramel-sauce/