Creating Caramel Swirls in Ice Cream: Dos and Don’ts

caramel swirl, Caramel Swirl, CARAMEL SWIRL! For some reason, I had the crazy idea to incorporate a caramel swirl in my ice cream, but had not found much research on the subject. Below is a general “what not to do” when trying to create a caramel swirl, and the general benefits of adding caramel (or really, more sugar) to your ice cream.

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  1. DO NOT use melted candies. Here is why, melted candies harden when cooled, and hot candy will not interact well with ice cold ice cream. Either way this candy is not made to melt and blend with ice cream. It will work well with other hot items, such as making candies, but the two temperature clashes will not have favorable results. They will create hard pellets in the ice cream, which really isn’t a great texture. img_3619
  2. Do add sea salt to the caramel. Salt balances and enhances flavors, and since caramel is a very sweet sugary rich sensation, it enhances the notes and cuts some of the heaviness. Besides that, it adds light texture that isn’t overwhelming. Adding sea salt will balance out the extra sweetness you are adding to your base.
  3. DO NOT use packaged syrups you can find at a grocery store. This is only because you can’t control the ingredients this way. In pre-packages syrups you have stabilizers and other chemicals to elongate shelf life. You just want a delicious ice cream, not a super sweet syrup. Besides that, you can’t control the consistency with a syrup. Overall it lessens the quality of your hard work. Remember, ingredients matter.
  4. Do make your own with a few simple ingredients! I used 1/2 cup packed brown sugar, 1/4 cup half-and half (or an 1/8 of a cup heavy cream, 1/8 of cup whole milk), 2 tbsp butter, and 1/2 tbsp vanilla. I put these ingredients over heat until combined and the color darkened. Once it reached the desired color, I put it to the side until it was at room temperature and then transferred to the refrigerator to cool.
  5. DO NOT add the caramel too early. This is what I do every.single.time. I am impatient, I am very excited to incorporate, and usually when you mix in ingredients you do about halfway through the churning process, BUT when adding a swirl it needs to be added right at the very end.
  6. Do enjoy the benefits of soft creamy ice cream regardless of the swirls. Even though I didn’t quite snag pictures of the perfect caramel swirl (I shall post them when I do though. I will be very excited…) I did get two great batches of well received smooth creamy and sweet ice cream. The first had crushed dark chocolate M&Ms and chocolate chips. The second had espresso powder, caramel and homemade fudge sauce. (Fudge sauce ingredient can be found below).



Fudge Sauce
1/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 tablesppon butter
1/8 cup granulated sugar (I used sugar in the raw)
1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar

Happy caramel experimenting! Please do let me know if you give the caramel swirl a try. I’d love to see what you come up with.


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