Apple Cider Ice Cream with Bourbon Caramel Sauce

This is both embarrassing and not at all embarrassing for me to admit: the first time I remember cider ice cream appearing on my radar was during that Gilmore Girls episode after Lorelei had called off her wedding to Max and a fancy schmany ice cream maker showed up at her house as a wedding gift, but there wasn't a card attached to the gift so she didn't know who to send it back to. Rory and Sookie tried unsuccessfully to get her to keep the ice cream maker, since, duh, they didn't know who sent it in the first place. Rory made that point over and over again while Sookie tried to ply her BFF with the promise of cider ice cream, since Jackson's apple crop had come in - KISMET. And now you know that I have watched Gilmore Girls entirely too many times (is there such a thing as too many times? I'm not convinced).

But for real, I think this might be my favorite recipe I've ever developed ever. So let's get some FAQs out of the way. Can you make just the ice cream and not the caramel? Yes, but you'll have to deal with no caramel-induced sadness. The cure for that sadness is caramel sauce. Can you make the caramel sauce minus the bourbon? YES. And it's still great. Go nuts. Can you make this ice cream without an ice cream maker? Sadly, I'm not sure you can. The ice cream maker makes it creamy and helps it set, so if you make a no-churn version, it'll be icier and more like a milky sorbet - the flavor is still good, but the texture suffers a bit. 

You know what else would be good? A pear and rum version. Don't worry, I'll report back.

Apple Cider Ice Cream

4 cups apple cider (the real kind, not juice)

2 cups whole milk

1 cup whole cream

3 egg yolks

1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Bring the cider to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce cider to approximately 2 cups of liquid. Let cool.

Whisk together milk and cream. Add vanilla and sugar and heat over medium heat (don't boil).

Put ice and cold water into a large bowl. Whisk egg yolks in a separate small bowl. Add a small bit of heated milk mixture while whisking, make sure to only add a little and go slow so as to not curdle the yolks. Add the egg yolk mixture into the warmed milk mixture and whisk to combine. Pour into a gallon-sized resealable bag and cool in the bowl of ice water. Cool to room temp.

Spin in an ice cream machine until it's the consistency of soft serve. Freeze.

Bourbon Caramel Sauce

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 Tablespoon bourbon

1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

3/4 cup heavy cream

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces.

Put sugar into small, dry saucepan. Heat over medium-low heat until caramelized. Do not stir. (I mean it!) Swirl gently to check and make sure all the sugar is caramel-y.

Mix bourbon, cream and salt together. Add to caramel to make a sauce. Whisk. Add 1 small piece of butter at a time. Swirl to combine. Look, you just made caramel sauce.

Scoop ice cream into bowls. Drizzle bourbon caramel over the top. Bliss.