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Caramel Macadamia Nut Ice Cream

Caramel sauce:
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup butter cut into small pieces (1/2 stick, see note)
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/4 tsp salt

Vanilla ice cream base:
2 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 cup half-and-half
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup chopped salted macadamia nuts

To make caramel sauce: Pour sugar into small, heavy-bottomed pan. Place over medium heat and let sugar melt to a dark brown liquid. Stir in butter and half-and-half (mixture will sputter, so be careful). Stir over medium heat until mixture comes together as a sauce. Stir in salt. Remove from heat.

To make vanilla ice cream base: In heat-proof bowl, beat together eggs and salt. Set aside. In heavy-bottomed pan, combine sugar and half-and-half. Bring to a simmer. Pour about 1/2 cup of the mixture into egg mixture and beat. Return mixture to pan, and cook slowly over low heat until thickened to sauce consistency and it coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla. Strain into bowl. Cover and refrigerate until cold.

If caramel sauce is too thick to pour, microwave on low 30 seconds.

Make ice cream according to manufacturer's directions. While ice cream is still soft but almost firm, drizzle in caramel sauce and nuts. Continue to churn ice cream just to mix ingredients. Remove from machine and serve or freeze immediately.

Note: Use real butter or stick margarine. Do not substitute reduced-fat spreads; their higher water content often yields less-satisfactory results.

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