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Once upon a time, in the years and months before we opened the shop, Brian remembers making this flavor for friends and family. There were many who said this was the only thing he needed to make in order to be successful. There were others who strongly disliked it and warned Brian against selling it at all. “It’s burnt.

It’s bitter. People will hate it.” To this day, the flavor continues to polarize. But enough people love it to make it far and away our most popular flavor. Once, on the weekend after Salted Crack Caramel won New York magazine’s Crackiest Crack Food in Town award, nearly 25 percent of all our sales came from this one flavor. That’s out of twenty-four flavors! There are days in the summer when we sell fifteen gallons of Salted Crack. If it were just salted caramel ice cream, it might not be as popular. But we add Deb’s crack cookies to the ice cream—extremely sweet and addictive, they are the perfect counterpoint to the salty bitterness of the burnt-caramel ice cream.

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Ingredients

For the Salted Caramel Ice Cream

  • cups (300 g) organic cane sugar
  • ¼ cup (60 g) unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (240 ml) heavy cream
  • 2 cups (480 ml) whole milk
  • 6 egg yolks

For Deb’s Crack Cookies

  • Butter for the baking sheet
  • 45 saltine crackers
  • ¾ cup (180 g) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup (200 g) organic cane sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 10 ounces (280 g) milk chocolate, chopped

Method

  1. Make the salted caramel ice cream: Prepare an ice bath in the sink or in a large heatproof bowl.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat the sugar over medium-high heat, stirring frequently with a rubber spatula as it melts. When it has melted completely and drips smoothly off the spatula (with no discernable sugar granules), remove the spatula and continue to cook the sugar without stirring. Watch the pan closely—the caramel will turn darker in color. Watch for smoke to rise off the top. When the caramel starts to smoke, count to ten and remove the pan from the heat.
  3. Using an oven mitt, carefully add the butter to the pan. It might spatter when it hits the hot caramel, so be careful. Stir the mixture with a rubber spatula until the butter has melted and the mixture is smooth and combined. Add the salt. Slowly pour in the cream—it will bubble up, but you must continue to stir it as you pour, so the cream incorporates smoothly into the caramel. Be careful! Add the milk and stir to combine.
  4. Clip a candy thermometer to the saucepan and return the pan to the heat. Cook, stirring often with a rubber spatula and scraping the bottom of the pan to prevent sticking and burning, until the mixture reaches 110°F (45°C), 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.
  5. Place the egg yolks in a medium bowl. While whisking, slowly pour ½ cup (120 ml) of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolks to temper them. Continue to whisk slowly until the mixture is an even color and consistency, then whisk the egg-yolk mixture back into the remaining milk mixture.
  6. Return the pan to the stovetop over medium heat and continue cooking the mixture, stirring often, until it reaches 165°F (75°C), 5 to 10 minutes more.
  7. Transfer the pan to the prepared ice bath and let cool for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour the ice cream base through a wire-mesh strainer into a storage container and place in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours, or until completely cool.
  8. Make Deb’s crack cookies: Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Butter a 12-by-18-inch baking sheet and line it with parchment paper.
  9. Spread the crackers out in even rows in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.
  10. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and sugar over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally to combine. When the butter and sugar start to bubble up, remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the vanilla.
  11. Gently pour the butter mixture over the crackers and use a spatula to spread it evenly. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the sugar has caramelized, turning light brown in color.
  12. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and sprinkle the chocolate over the crackers. Wait a few moments for the chocolate to begin to melt, then use a spatula to gently spread the chocolate over the crackers in an even layer.
  13. Let the crack cookies cool. Refrigerate for 1 hour, then chop the cookies into bite-size pieces and set aside.
  14. Transfer the cooled base to an ice cream maker and churn it according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  15. Transfer the ice cream to a storage container, folding in the crack cookie pieces as you do. Use as many of the cookie pieces as you want; you won’t necessarily need the whole batch. Serve immediately or harden in your freezer for 8 to 12 hours for a more scoopable ice cream.