Desserts An image of home made vanilla and caramel swirl ice cream with salted caramel

Published on October 21st, 2012 | by Gareth


Vanilla ice cream with caramel sauce & salted caramel

Any good movie night needs snacks or treats to chomp on – it’s part of the experience. I remember as a wee nipper the usherette coming around the cinema during the interval with her illuminated tray of raspberry ripple ice cream and choc-ice’s. I would run excitedly down to the front of the dark cinema where the nice lady glowed from the tray’s light and 20 pence would secured me something from the mini arctic dairy wonderland. Then, I would run back to my seat to show my Mum or Nan my frosty prize and exaggeratedly lick the cardboard lid of fake raspberry sauce. Ahhh happy days.

My choice of films has changed a bit these days but eating something sweet during a film is still part of the fun. Movie night with friend’s, Morgan and Dru, caused me to ponder a while over the choice of snack: ice cream, sweets (lollies), or popcorn what should it be. Being a hot day yesterday and a moment of childish excitement sealed the decision, I would do a combination of all three: vanilla ice cream with homemade caramel swirl topped with salted caramel and popcorn.

It took a bit of time but each component was surprisingly simple. The result was nothing short of ace and this is coming from a person who is more savoury than sweet. A couple of the photos are a bit dark but that’s because Dru insists on maintaining ‘mood’ lighting for an authentic cinema feel that and evil incandescent light made it tough to capture the dessert in all its glory.

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Freezing time: 2-3 hours
Eating time: 3-5 minutes


Vanilla ice cream recipe

  • 500ml skim milk
  • 400ml pure cream
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 95g caster sugar

Caramel sauce recipe

  • 1 cup soft brown sugar
  • ½ cup full cream
  • 80g unsalted butter

Salted caramel recipe

  • ½ cup caster sugar
  • Cracked sea salt
  • Baking paper

Popcorn topping

  • 1 bag microwave popcorn, I just used plain butter popcorn.


Vanilla ice cream

  • Pour the cream and milk into a heavy based saucepan. Cut the vanilla pod length ways and scrape out the sticky black seeds. Add the pod and seeds to the milk and slowly bring to the boil.
  • Once boiled, remove from heat, cover and infuse for 15-20 minutes.
  • Strain the milk through a sieve and place back on the heat.
  • In a large bowl whisk the egg yolk and caster sugar until pale and creamy.
  • Once the vanilla milk mix has come to the boil again slowly pour it into the bowl with the egg yolk. It’s important to keep whisking to prevent lumps.
  • Transfer the mix back to the pan and gently heat for 2-5 minutes. Don’t let it boil and stir constantly.
  • Once thickened, remove from heat and allow to cool. I like to pour it through a sieve one final time but this isn’t vital.
  • Put the cooled vanilla custard mix in the fridge for an hour then add to an ice cream machine (as per your ice cream machine’s instructions). Transfer to a sealed container then freeze for 2-4 hours. If you don’t have an ice cream maker put the chilled custard directly into a sealed container then freeze for 4 hours.

Caramel sauce

    • In a separate saucepan (also heavy based), heat the caster sugar for the caramel sauce. Be careful, as getting splashed with hot liquid sugar will inflict shouting and a nasty burn. I added a couple of teaspoons of water to aid the melting process.
    • Allow the boiling sugar to slightly caramelize (golden colour) then add the butter. It will spit and crackle so watch out. Stir to prevent burning.
    • When the butter has melted add the cream. Stir in and simmer for a few minutes until the sauce reduces a little.
    • Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes and transfer to a heatproof container like a Pyrex jug. You probably wont use all of the caramel sauce but it keeps in a sealed jar in the fridge for a few weeks.
    • You can either pour the caramel sauce over the ice cream when you serve or swirl it through the ice cream as it freezes….or both.

Sugar and butter boiling in a pan for caramel sauce recipe

Salted caramel

    • This is the easiest of all the components. Add the cup of sugar plus a few teaspoons of water to a heavy based saucepan.
    • Bring to the boil stirring every few minutes.
    • As soon as it begins to turn lightly golden pour it out onto the baking paper. It will change colour very quickly so keep an eye on it. I got distracted and ended up with burnt caramel the colour of treacle the first time.
    • As soon as the caramel has been poured onto the parchment grind salt over the top of the caramel.
    • Break into smaller pieces and set aside until ready to serve.

Salted caramel cooling on baking paper

All that remains is to serve the ice cream, pour some caramel sauce over the top, stick some shards of salted caramel in the ice cream and sprinkle with a little popcorn. It’s not the healthiest of desserts or the quickest to make but it does taste excellent and lights people eyes like a raspberry ripple does to a 7 year old.

Whats your favourite edible friend for film watching?

An image of homemade vanilla and caramel ice cream with salted caramel

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About the Author

Englishman in Sydney loves a whisky, pies and all things savoury. Digital Marketer by day, cook the rest of the time. Amateur writer, photographer & aspiring anthropologists.

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