Midweek Meltdown: Dulce de Leche Ice Cream

dulce de leche ice cream

dulce delicioso*

Thankfully, the heat spell we’ve been having for the past so-many weeks has finally broken. (At least I hope so.) Now the days have settled into the very pleasant mid-80s, with a bright blue sky overhead and a gentle breeze sailing in from the ocean.

Sounds delightful, doesn’t?

As delightful as a bowl of dulce de leche ice cream.

If you’re not familiar with dulce de leche, it’s a caramel-like substance that’s very rich and creamy, but a little mellower than ordinary caramel. You should be able to find a can of it in the “international” aisle of your grocery store. But if not, there are a few methods out there where you can turn a can of sweetened condensed milk into dulce de leche. One of them involves boiling a can for 3 to 4 hours. While homemade stuff is great, boiling something for 4 hours when you can buy the stuff already in a can seemed like a silly idea. Plus, I didn’t want to ruin one of these very pleasant summer days stuck inside watching a pot boil. I much prefer devouring a bowl of creamy ice cream instead.

Dulce de Leche Ice Cream
3 cups of half & half
1 13.4 oz can of dulce de leche, plus more for topping
2 vanilla beans, seeds removed

In a large saucepan, heat the half & half over medium heat until nearly boiling. Remove from the heat and whisk in the dulce de leche until dissolved, and then stir in the vanilla bean seeds. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold or overnight.

Place the mixture into your ice cream maker and freeze according to the machine’s instructions. Most machines take 20 to 40 minutes to make ice cream. When the ice cream is thick and creamy, place into a freezer-safe container (with piece of parchment paper between the ice cream and the lid) and let it harden for a few hours. Let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes before scooping. Top with lightly melted dulce de leche and eat.

*Thanks Wendy!

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Pecan Turtle Power

pecan turtle cookies

cowabunga!

Everybody knows what turtles are, right? No, I’m not talking about those shelled reptiles, regular and/or the mutant ninja variety, although those are all pretty awesome. I mean those incredible chocolate-covered clusters with caramel and nuts. It’s the type of treat usually found at quaint candy shoppes alongside homemade fudge and peanut brittle. But if you don’t live near one of these shoppes, they can be hard to find. So in a totally radical move, I decided to reinterpret those candies into cookie form. And add peanut butter, toffee and – since it’s National Pecan Month! – some pecans. Dude, I know. I have a slight obsession with making cookies that include every flavor under the sun. I also made my very own salted caramel sauce because, well, why not? It’s way easier than you could imagine, and makes for a bodacious treat all its own.

Pecan Turtle Cookies
For the cookies:
½ cup of unsalted butter, softened
½ cup of sugar
½ cup of brown sugar
2/3 cup of chunky peanut butter
1 large egg
2 cups of all-purpose baking mix
1 cup of milk chocolate toffee bits
1 cup of salted caramel sauce (see below)
1 cup of pecan halves
2/3 cup of semisweet chocolate chips, melted

For the salted caramel sauce:
1 cup of sugar
4 tablespoons of unsalted butter, softened and cut in pieces
½ cup of whipping cream
2 teaspoons of Maldon flaky sea salt

Heat your oven to 350º.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, sugars and peanut butter until light and fully. Add the egg and beat until smooth. Add the baking mix a little a time until well combined, scraping down the sides as needed. Stir in the milk chocolate toffee bits.

Roll the dough into tablespoon-sized balls, place on an ungreased cookie sheet and then flatten with the bottom of a glass (or your fingertips). Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Meanwhile, make the salted caramel sauce. Place the sugar in a saucepan and cook over medium-high heat. When the sugar starts to melt (keep an eye on it – it could burn quickly), whisk to remove any clumps. When the sugar turns a deep amber color, carefully whisk in the softened butter. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the cream until smooth. Then whisk in the sea salt. Let the caramel cool to room temperature, and then place in the fridge to cool completely. The sauce will thicken as it cools, but should still remain sticky and liquidity. (Any unused sauce can be kept covered in the fridge.)

Once the cookies are cool, pour a spoonful of salted caramel sauce over each one and top with one or two pecan halves. Drizzle with melted chocolate chips and let set.