burnt salted caramel & honeycomb ice-cream
Birthdays (not mine) are exciting occasions. An excuse to spoil your nearest and dearest without the additional barrier of “pai sei” that usually comes with.
(“pai sei” – hokkien. Also known as that awkward attempt to deferentially and only semi-wholeheartedly decline a gift because it would lead to an inequality in the friendship wherein one person is supposedly taking more than they have given and no, I couldn’t possibly accept that because the world may explode as a result. Truly. I’m doing it for your own good. Oh you really want me to have it? Well thanks then, I will. Hm.)
The other upside being that birthdays mean cake.
Unless, of course, you are a person who doesn’t like cake. Who considers cake to be a veritable waste of stomach space and calories. Who dislikes other people’s birthdays solely because there is the omnipresent opportunity, nay, obligation, to eat cake. An obligation that is inescapable even if one accidentally-on-purpose ducks off to the bathroom to avoid said cake, because some thoughtful soul will have saved you a piece and will watch gleefully as you eat it, thinking they have done you a large favour.
I am clearly not talking about myself here. Oh no.
It was for such a person, that I had offered to provide a birthday cake. It was his birthday, after all, and much as he was inclined to grimace at the thought of having to eat cake (on his own birthday no less! The nerve.) he knew that his family would thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to sample some sweets.
Which is where, my very dear and patient readers, this ice-cream comes in. Because really, what better cake for a non-cake-eater than one made of ice-cream. And cookies. A giant ice-cream sandwich! In his favourite flavour!
(And one which contained more than enough sugar to make up for the 9km run we’d done that very morning).
It melted, of course, on the journeys between freezers, not aided in the slightest by the distance travelled and the heat of the day. Any attempts to cut the “cake” resulted in a slow yet steady ooze of golden-hued cream so we lifted the top off and scooped the ice cream into our bowls, each scoop adorned with a shard of chewy chocolate cookie.
The honeycomb, I learnt, melts down into a stream of gooey caramel when left in the freezer for a few days. Larger chunks in the mix retain some aerated crunch. And leftovers make for a perfect crunchy topping. If your teeth can handle it, that is.
- Toss the sugar into a saucepan and heat it over a high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar melts into a liquid syrup then darkens into a golden caramel. This will take a little while and will be very hot so please (please!) don’t stick your finger in it.
- Lower the heat and watch carefully as the mixture becomes darker and darker. This will happen far more rapidly so watch out. You want the mix to smell like sugar with a hint of smokiness and to be an amber colour.
- As soon as it hits this point, toss the milk and condensed milk in and stir rapidly. It will hiss and release plumes of steam, but don’t worry, that will calm down soon enough. Add the salt flakes and then put the caramel mixture aside to cool.
- While the caramel mixture is cooling, place your honeycomb in a plastic bag then wrap it in a tea towel. Smash the living daylights out of it with a meat mallet or similar.
- When the caramel mixture has cooled to room temperature, add it to the thickened cream and whip away until the mixture has doubled in volume, looks light and fluffy, and leaves a trail across the top. Stir in the honeycomb bits and freeze for at least four hours before serving with some dark chocolate salted rosemary cookies.