Caramel apples chunks are swirled into no-churn ice cream in this decadent autumn treat.
Tomorrow I’ll officially have a teenager living in my house (in addition to the two adults that act as if). My oldest son turns 13 and while he’s seemingly taking it in stride, I’m struggling to reconcile how my little boy is well on his way to becoming a man. Wasn’t it just a minute ago that he was driving me crazy opening the kitchen cabinets and pulling out all of the pots and pans to bang on the floor? Or begging me to read In The Night Kitchen for the ten millionth time? Or taking his first steps, losing his first tooth, clutching his lunchbox nervously on the first day of kindergarten?
It’s so cliche, but the years really do pass in a blip. Now, I’m sure I would beg to differ when I was deep into the toddler years (aka the dark days), but once we emerged from the trenches, we’ve had the wind at our backs. Now I can barely keep him in shoes that fit and have to reach up to hug him. The training wheels have long come off and the braces have since gone on.
Speaking of those braces, I’ve been impressed by how he has adjusted to a mouthful of metal. I don’t want to jinx it, but he’s rarely complained about what he can or can’t eat. Goodbye to corn on the cob, crunchy carrots, and chomping on an apple. Most of his favorite chewy Halloween candies are off limits and his go-to fall treat, the caramel apple, tops the “don’t even think about it” orthodontist list.
So I wracked my brain about how to tweak this fall treat to make it orthodontist-friendly and I decided on (drum roll please)…caramel apple ice cream! Now, first and foremost…the caramel sauce. It had to be just the right consistency so it is soft and pourable instead of tooth-crackingly hard and chewy. I also make it with reduced apple cider to up the apple flavor intensity. It, combined with chunks of apple sautéed in brown butter, taste just like caramel apples swirled into rich and creamy (and laughably easy) no churn ice cream. And of course we’ve got to hold a little of this caramel sauce to the side to warm up and pour over our ice cream once it’s set and ready to serve.
My soon-to-be teenager lit up when I gave him a scoop of this caramel apple-inspired ice cream and I’m pretty sure I caught a glimpse of my sweet little boy in that grown up, silver smile. Happy birthday Jack and don’t forget that no matter how old you are, you’ll forever be my baby.
- 2 cups apple cider
- 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 3 apples, peeled, cored and diced into 1/2 inch chunks (I like Braeburn or Honeycrisp)
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- pinch kosher salt
- 1/2 cup apple cider caramel sauce
- 1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 cups heavy cream
- Caramel apple chunks
Heat the apple cider in a saucepan set over high heat until reduced to a 1/2 cup. Add the brown sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium high.
Add the heavy cream, vanilla and salt and cook until it reaches 250 degrees F on a candy thermometer.
Makes 1 cup of caramel sauce. You'll need a 1/2 cup for the apples. Reserve 1/2 cup for serving. The caramel sauce can be stored in the refrigerator and gently warmed for serving.
Heat the butter over medium heat, until just golden brown with a slightly nutty aroma (foam will subside and you'll see little brown flecks).
Add the apples, cinnamon, sugar and pinch of salt. Cook until softened, but not mushy. The apples should just begin to caramelize, about 10 mins. Stir in a half cup caramel sauce and cool to room temperature.
Whisk the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla and cinnamon together in a large bowl.
In a separate large bowl, whip the heavy cream until you have stiff peaks.
Fold the whipped cream into the condensed milk mixture.
Scrape 1/3 of the ice cream into a loaf pan and swirl 1/3 of the caramel apple mixture over the top. Repeat two more times, finishing with the apples. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze until firm, at least 5 hours or overnight. Serve with warmed, reserved caramel sauce.
yields 1 1/2 quarts ice cream.