Outrageously GOOD and "healthy-ish" Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream with a Secret Ingredient

Ah-ha-ha-ha-ha!!! Just imagine a mad scientist in his lab celebrating after inventing a cure for all of man kind. Now, imagine that scientist is ME and I successfully made ice cream with tofu. That's right - your eyes are not deceiving you......TOE....FOO! When I thought of the idea, I thought there would be no way it could work. But since I've wanted to try this recipe for a while now, I thought - what the heck.

Well friends, let me tell you - this ice cream is O.O.C. - out of control!!! This is the kind of dessert when you take a bite your eyes instantly get BIG because it is the BOMB! I'm glad lobster wasn't around when I made this because I was hovering over the kitchen sink licking the mixing arm of the ice cream maker. Then, something terrible almost happened. Thankfully I caught myself before the event took place, but, I was literally inches away from licking the bowl of the ice cream maker until genius here realized it's frozen metal and my tongue could possibly get stuck to it. I imagine that would be very difficult to explain to lobster and the paramedics.

I'm so glad my little experiment was such a success! Lobster could not detect the tofu whatsoever. The inspiration for the tofu is due to the fact that lobster and I are trying to eat healthier so I thought I'd make a "healthy" ice cream. Don't think you can have those two words in the same sentence but - anyway, instead of heavy cream I substituted Silken firm tofu and swapped 2% for whole milk. That automatically makes the ice cream healthy right?! Let's just pretend the other half of the recipe is not made with sugar. Baby steps I say! I'm so glad I made this to celebrate the day of my birth many, many sad moons ago. This just softened the blow of aging another year. Happy Birthday to MEEEEEEE :D

Other recipes to sneak in tofu:
Lemon "Cream" with Fresh Raspberries
Lighter Eggplant Parmesan
Spinach Lasagna Rolls
Tofu "Egg Salad" Sammie

Salted Butter Caramel Ice Cream
Adapted from David Lebovitz
One generous quart (liter)

I know I’m sounding like a broken record, but be sure to use good salt. I use fleur de sel, but if you don’t have it, a mild-tasting sea salt will do in a pinch, such as Maldon, fine gray salt, or kosher salt. Don’t use ordinary fine table salt; it’s far too harsh.
Because of the caramel in this ice cream, once churned and frozen, it’ll remain nice & creamy (as shown in the photo.) To make it firmer, crank up your freezer a bit or store it in a shallow pan.

For the caramel praline (mix-in)
1/2 cup (100 gr) sugar
3/4 teaspoon sea salt, such as fleur de sel

For the ice cream custard
2 cups (500 ml) 2% milk, divided
1 1/2 cups (300 gr) sugar
4 tablespoons (60 gr) salted butter*
scant (no more then) 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 10 oz package silken tofu, firm
5 large egg yolks
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. To make the caramel praline, spread the 1/2 cup (100 gr) of sugar in an even layer in a medium-sized, unlined heavy duty saucepan: I use a medium size non-stick pan. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or brush it sparingly with unflavored oil.
2. Heat the sugar over moderate heat until the edges begin to melt. Use a heatproof utensil to gently stir the liquefied sugar from the bottom and edges towards the center, stirring, until all the sugar is dissolved. (Or most of it—there may be some lumps, which will melt later.)
Continue to cook stirring infrequently until the caramel starts smoking and begins to smell like it’s just about to burn. It won’t take long. (I stopped when it became a dark auburn color)
3. Without hesitation, sprinkle in the 3/4 teaspoon salt without stirring (don’t even pause to scratch your nose), then pour the caramel onto the prepared baking sheet and lift up the baking sheet immediately, tilting and swirling it almost vertically to encourage the caramel to form as thin a layer as possible. Set aside to harden and cool.
4. To make the ice cream, make an ice bath by filling a large bowl about a third full with ice cubes and adding a cup or so of water so they’re floating. Nest a smaller metal bowl (at least 2 quarts/liters) over the ice, pour 1 cup (250 ml) of the milk into the inner bowl, and rest a mesh strainer on top of it. Remove tofu from container and drain out liquid. Add tofu to a blender with 1/4 cup of milk and blend until completely smooth.
5. Spread 1 1/2 cups (300 gr) sugar in the saucepan in an even layer. Cook over moderate heat, until caramelized, using the same method described in Step #2.
6. Once caramelized, remove from heat and stir in the butter and salt, until butter is melted, then gradually whisk in all of the tofu mixture, stirring as you go.
The caramel may harden and seize, but return it to the heat and continue to stir over low heat until any hard caramel is melted. Stir in remaining 3/4 cup (250 ml) of the milk.
7. Whisk the yolks in a small bowl and gradually pour some of the warm caramel mixture over the yolks, stirring constantly. Scrape the warmed yolks back into the saucepan and cook the custard using a heatproof utensil, stirring constantly (scraping the bottom as you stir) until the mixture thickens. If using an instant-read thermometer, it should read 160-170 F (71-77 C).
8. Pour the custard through the strainer into the milk set over the ice bath, add the vanilla, then stir frequently until the mixture is cooled down. Refrigerate at least 8 hours or until thoroughly chilled.
9. Freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
10. While the ice cream is churning, crumble the hardened caramel praline into very little bits, about the size of very large confetti (about 1/2-inch, or 1 cm).
11. Once your caramel ice cream is churned, quickly stir in the crushed caramel, then chill in the freezer until firm. (I churned my ice cream for 25 minutes then added the caramel pieces and churned for an additional 5 minutes)

*I add 1/8 tsp kosher salt to 4 tbs of unsalted butter to make salted butter

Note: As the ice cream sits, the little bits of caramel may liquefy and get runny and gooey, which is what they’re intended to do.

Variations: Add some strong liquid espresso (or instant espresso powder) to the custard to taste, prior to churning the ice cream to make Coffee-Caramel Ice Cream.
Other options might be some of the mix-ins in The Perfect Scoop, like gooey Dark Chocolate Truffles, crackly chocolate Straciatella, or Oatmeal Praline folded in at the last minute.
This is also excellent served with warm Mocha Sauce (page 166), although it’s also excellent melting over sautéed apples or alongside a wedge of apple pie or tarte Tatin for a caramel double-whammy.


Reeni said...

What a great idea to use the tofu! I love the caramel and salt flavors. Totally delicious!

NuM NuM said...

Thanks Reeni! Tofu makes it some how a little less glutinous - give it a try :)