I am very fortunate that the vast majority of recipes I try for the first time turn out just as they are supposed to, and I have no issues in the process. Unfortunately, they can’t all be that way. While it can be incredibly frustrating when things go awry, I usually end up learning something in the process, so it is not a complete waste. The first time I attempted to make this ice cream, I realized I had less than half the amount of light brown sugar called for, so I decided to sub dark brown for the remaining amount needed. I have subbed light for dark brown sugar (and vice versa) many times in the past without incident. Well, let me tell you right now – butterscotch is NOT one of those things. Dark brown sugar is made with a higher percentage of molasses than light brown. Usually, I notice no difference, but when I cooked what should have been the butterscotch mixture using dark brown sugar, all I could smell was molasses and nothing resembling butterscotch. It was an ugly dark brown color, and just didn’t seem right. Thankfully, I trusted my nose and stopped right there. I saved the rest of the ingredients rather than proceeding and wasting them all.
The next morning, I bought more light brown sugar and started over. Things went much better. The butterscotch actually looked and smelled like butterscotch – YAY! Another trick I learned the second time around is to be sure the cream you add to the butterscotch mixture is warmed beforehand. This prevents the mixture seizing up when the cream is added. (Even if it does seize, you can simply cook it a bit longer over medium heat until it has melted, but I prefer to avoid it altogether.) This ice cream was absolutely incredible and completely worth the failed attempt and giving it a second try. As an added bonus, nearly every bite reminded me of my sweet, wonderful late grandfather who always kept butterscotch candies in his pockets and his car when we were young. I served this as dessert the evening that my brothers spent the night and it is safe to say it was thoroughly enjoyed by all.
Butterscotch Ice Cream
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. bourbon (optional)
1 1/2 cups whipping cream, divided
2 cups half-and-half (light cream)
6 large egg yolks
In a small saucepan over medium heat, stir brown sugar and butter until butter is melted, sugar is dissolved, and mixture is bubbly, 4-5 minutes. Whisk in 1/2 cup warmed whipping cream until smooth; remove butterscotch from the heat. Stir in the vanilla and bourbon (if using.)
In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine remaining 1 cup whipping cream and all of the half-and-half ; bring to a simmer.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, beat the egg yolks to blend. Whisk 1/2 cup of the warm cream mixture into the egg yolks, then pour the egg yolk mixture back into the pan with the whipping cream. Stir constantly over medium heat, just until mixture is slightly thickened (175 degrees F). Immediately remove the mixture from the heat.
Pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a medium bowl. Whisk in the butterscotch mixture. Chill until cold, stirring occasionally, about 2 hours; or cover and chill up to 1 day.
Freeze the mixture in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to an airtight container and store in the freezer until ready to serve.
Source: adapted from Smitten Kitchen