When I was a smallish child we lived in California, just a few towns over from The Jelly Belly factory. We did the tour a few times with out-of-town family–that place smells insane like sugar. I always loved mixing the flavors to make other flavors–root beer float and the like. My mom would pretty much only eat those strange buttered popcorn dudes. This ice cream is a nod to that candy bean, though the flavor is less weirdo-artificial-movie-theater-bucket and more delicious popcorn nuttiness.
Even though I’m not a fan of the popcorn jelly bean, I am a fan of popcorn…and caramel and nuts. I mean, it’s just so perfect–salty, sweet, nutty crunchy. It’s like a salty-sweet-crunchy dream. This ice cream starts with a smooth and creamy popcorn base–there are 8 whole cups of popcorn in it! It wilts down to nothing, but leaves behind a cream that’s reminiscent of buttered popcorn, sans the butter plus the popcorn. I added a caramel ripple for good measure and sweet cashews for crunch.
This ice cream is crazy-weird-good. Even though it’s only January, it has me dreaming of late sunsets, ball parks and hot dogs, and summertime goodness.
Caramel Popcorn Ice Cream with Cashews
Salted Caramel Sauce // adapted from The Perfect Scoop
Prepare the caramel sauce ahead of time so it can cool to room temperature. Can be made a few days in advance and refrigerated in a lidded container. You will have leftover sauce, but I’m sure you’ll find a way to use it up 🙂
3/4 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon golden (or corn) syrup
1/4 cup water
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 teaspoons sea salt
In a measuring cup measure out cream and add vanilla, set aside.
In a heavy bottomed saucepan heat sugar, syrup, and water over medium-high until sugar is melted and turns dark golden brown in color (the darkest you can get it before burning is best–think whiskey/bourbon color). Remove from heat and quickly whisk in butter and half of cream until combined and smooth. The mixture will steam and bubble furiously, use a oven mitt or towel to wrap your stirring hand. If there are still lumps, heat gently until smooth. Add remaining cream and salt and stir until smooth.
1/2 cup popping corn
paper lunch bag
place the popcorn kernels in the bag, fold the bag top 2-3 times, microwave on high until the corn is popping like crazy, followed by 1-2 second pauses between pops–about 3 1/2 minutes. This may take some trial and error, just be watchful–you may have to pop it in 2 batches. This made me about 9 cups of popcorn–I used 8 and snacked on the remaining cup.
Popcorn Ice Cream // adapted from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home
2 cups heavy whipping cream
8 cups plain popped corn
2 cup milk
4 teaspoons cornstarch
2/3 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons golden syrup (or corn)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chopped cashews
In a medium saucepan heat the heavy cream with the popcorn (the popcorn will basically wilt away, so if it seems like a lot, it won’t be), bring to a low boil, cover, remove from heat and steep for 1 hour. Sieve the popcorn cream through a fine mesh strainer, pressing on solids to extract as much cream as possible. Discard solids, you should have about 1 cup of cream remaining, if less add cream to make 1 cup.
Mix 1/4 cup of the milk with the cornstarch to create a slurry. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan mix together the popcorn cream with the remaining 1 3/4 cups milk, add the sugar, golden syrup, and salt. Heat the mixture and bring to a low boil, quickly whisk in the slurry mixture and return to a boil, whisking until thickened–about 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat.
Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl or clean sink basin. Pour the ice cream base into a gallon zip-bag and seal. Chill the base in the ice bath until cooled completely. Process in an ice cream maker according to manufacturers instructions. Spoon 1/3 of the churned ice cream into a freezer container, drizzle with caramel and sprinkle with nuts–repeat 2 more times. Cover and freeze until firm–3 hours or more.