Toscanini’s Burnt-Caramel Ice Cream

Several days ago, in the comments section of my vanilla ice cream post, site reader McColl wrote: “The first ice cream recipe I tried was from a June 2000 Atlantic Monthly article by Corby Kummer (a great food writer) called Toscanini’s Burnt-Caramel Ice Cream. It’s still available on-line, I think. It is absolutely, I mean truly, amazing. (If I were the type of person to use exclamation marks freely, I would add several to the end of that sentence.) Plus it’s fun to burn.”

This immediately caught my attention. I searched and quickly found the article online. I printed it out and read it today while “writing” my “paper” for “school.” (Actually, I got a lot done: I’m on page 16!)

What follows is my story.

So first, I combined milk and cream in a bowl:

Next–and here’s the fun part–I got some sugar and a small teaspoon of salt:


And put them directly on the bottom of the saucepan, without any liquids.


I turned up the heat.


And watched the magic happen:


When blackness appeared, I added half the milk and cream:


Frothy caramel milk bubbles sprang forth. My very life was at stake. I continued to stir:


I removed a sugary tumor:


And I let it cook down:


And down:


Until it was ready to go into a sieve and into the remaining milk and cream:


[That has got to be the ugliest picture I have ever posted.]

I used my Nigella Lawson whisk to mix it up:


I poured it into the ice cream mixer:


And 20 minutes later:


Which I scooped into a mug:



A very subtle flavor. I could see why people like it. It does, indeed, taste like burnt caramel. Not my favorite in the world, no. But good enough to lick clean from the ice cream bowl. I like what the article’s author, Corby Kummer says: “I urge you to taste how powerful and lush just four ingredients can be.”

True. I mean, it’s only sugar, salt, milk and cream and it tastes like a lot more. For that, I’m glad I made it.

8 thoughts on “Toscanini’s Burnt-Caramel Ice Cream”

  1. A Big Fan of the AG

    With all the ice cream you’ve been whipping up, I can imagine Lauren never leaves the house for fear of missing out on some new concoction.

    To answer an earlier query, my favorite flavor is Bruster’s Fresh Peach (when peaches are in season). OMG, it’s like having peach pie alamode on a cone.

  2. Unfortunately, Toscanini’s ice cream uses corn syrup, not sugar, for its burnt caramel ice cream (at least the stuff sold in Whole Foods). I find this immensely frustrating, as I’m allergic to corn.

  3. Jordan *******


    I’m twelve and i made your recipe and love it. IT DOES TASTE LIKE IT”S BURNT!

    It was very yummy in the end

  4. There is a very small amount of corn syrup in Toscanini’s Burnt Caramel, but none of it is added. We burn pure sugar to form the base, and the corn syrup is only present in a small amount in the 14% ice cream base mix we use.

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