Caramel ice milk being frozen in our ice cream maker.
Ice milk is like ice cream except that it's made with milk instead of cream. While ice milk is not as creamy as ice cream, it's also not nearly as calorie-dense, and thus it makes for a less guilt-inducing snack than ice cream. In fact, most low-fat ice creams sold in the US are actually ice milk (wikipedia); thus, maybe a more popular name for this recipe would be low-fat caramel ice cream1.
My SO and I had no luck searching online for caramel ice milk recipes. About the closest we got was this cappuccino ice milk recipe (which we ended up basing our recipe on), but the majority of caramel-flavored dessert recipes we found involved adding store-bought caramel sauce to the ingredients.
Caramel has to be about one of the easiest things in the world to make: all you have to do is heat sugar in water and it, well, caramelizes. It turns into caramel. Right there in front of you. All by itself. So, if you want some caramel ice milk, don't rush out and buy a jar of caramel sauce. Just combine some water and sugar and cook it for a bit. I guarantee you it'll cost less, and will likely taste better.
This caramel ice milk was soft and velvety when it came out of the ice cream maker, and every bite was filled with a rich caramel flavor. As we just made a batch tonight, it fits the bill to be this week's end-of-the-week recipe blogging post.
This recipe requires an ice cream maker; for more background on home ice cream makers, see this post.
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 cups evaporated milk (1 12-oz can; we used evaporated whole milk)
1/2 cup milk (we used 1%)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
0. Sometime before step 2, combine the evaporated milk, milk, and vanilla in a container that can be easily poured from.
1. Mix the sugar and water in a small pot (the sugar will not dissolve completely).
2. Heat the sugar and water over medium heat without stirring; let the mixture simmer until it turns a rich, dark golden brown and smells roasty (probably 10 to 15 minutes; the bubbling seems to slow down once it's almost ready). This mixture will eventually reach temperatures more than 50F above the boiling point of water, so handle with care.
3. Reduce the heat to low. Add the evaporated milk, milk, and vanilla to the caramel while stirring with a heat-proof implement; the mixture may bubble somewhat violently for a short while. The caramel will likely turn into a solid mass attached to your stirring implement and/or the bottom of the pot; this is not a problem. Stir until all the caramel dissolves (do not boil).
4. Once the caramel has dissolved, remove from the heat and let cool. Put the mixture into the fridge until it is cold enough to be frozen by your ice cream maker (at least 1 hour, probably more).
5. Pour the mixture into your ice cream maker and freeze.
6. Serve in chilled bowls once it's frozen; freeze any leftovers immediately.
If all you're used to eating is bottled caramel sauce, you may be a bit surprised by the flavor of this ice milk; it will have a dark, roasty flavor (a bit like coffee), and will have a hint of burned sugar flavor. Don't worry, that's exactly what caramel is supposed to taste like (and if you don't like that flavor, just cook the sugar less during the caramelization stage).
The creaminess of this ice milk is completely up to you; the more fat, protein, and sugar you add, the creamier the ice milk will be. If you use the entire 1 1/2 cups of evaporated milk (which has more fat, protein, and sugar than regular milk), this will be smooth and creamy. If you use all 1% milk, it will be icier, but still refreshing and delicious. So, if you don't have any evaporated milk, just use 2 cups of milk instead. Also, there's nothing magical about 1% milk; it's just what we have on hand. Non-fat, 2%, or whole milk should all work fine.
1 Bah. There's not a drop of cream in this recipe. Thus, this is ice milk, not ice cream.