3 words: homemade caramel sauce.
What a revelation! Sooooo delicious, so simple, and so worth the effort!
I found a great recipe on a trusted foodie site, and I haven't looked back!
It's funny what you bring to new cultures. When I mentioned to a girlfriend here that I'd made caramel sauce again, she asked, "And what do you do with that?" WHAT?! Well, you know she had to have some! The next time I had cream in the house, I made fresh caramel sauce and took it to her house while it was still warm. I bet money there's still a full jar in her fridge. Secretly, I think she's afraid to try it. I have no idea why, since they eat a lot of plain ice cream over there (and fruit, too). They are missing out! So then I mentioned this to another girlfriend, as in, "Can you believe she'd never heard of caramel sauce?" And this friend said, "What is caramel sauce?" Oh my. People of Australia, wake up and smell the yumminess! This second friend had to have her own jar, of course, which means I made a big batch this weekend. In case you are wondering what we like to do with ours, it disappears with great speed into HOMEMADE CARAMEL ICE CREAM!
We bought an ice cream maker in The Netherlands, where we were mortified to find no good ice cream available beyond the summer months. I love homemade ice cream, and I may never go back to store-bought. But the egg issue bothered me. Most ice creams are custard-based, meaning they contain quite a few uncooked egg whites. I'm careful with my egg source, but there was still an ick factor for me. Plus, I found the result overly rich for my taste. I did a lot of research and trial and error with substitutions until I found what we find to be the perfect basic ice cream recipe: one can of sweetened condensed milk with two can-fuls of 2% milk (it makes about 4 cups liquid, which is the volume my machine can handle). To this, simply add vanilla for vanilla ice cream, chopped Oreos for cookies and cream ice cream...you get the idea. No, my recipe doesn't actually contain cream. I know this will appall many readers, but we kinda like the thinner, icy quality of the milk. I was feeling extremely proud and full of my fantastic cooking abilities after working out this formula, only to be knocked down to size by a long-time homemade ice cream aficionado who informed me that ice cream can be EITHER custard-based (egg) or condensed milk based. Well, phooey. So, I reinvented the wheel. But it's a darned good wheel! I present it to you. Take it and run free!
Caramel ice cream is just my basic formula, plus a couple of handfuls of high-quality chocolate chips and a good bit of caramel sauce drizzled into the machine just before it's finished. It's got that amazing salty-sweet combo that we love. I hope you will too!