Food

The Easiest Salted Caramel Ice Cream Doesn’t Require a Machine

When you urgently need a frozen treat without leaving the house to get it, the most satisfying shortcut might be a cold and fluffy no-churn ice cream.

Made from sweetened condensed milk and whipped cream, it’s almost absurdly minimalist and doesn’t even require an ice cream machine. There’s no fussing over curdle-prone egg yolks, because you don’t have to cook a custard. Simply whip some cream, fold in the milk and a few flavorings — a pinch of salt and some vanilla extract will do the trick — then let it sit in the freezer until scoopable. It’s the perfect hack for any hot day.

Recipe: No-Churn Salted Caramel Ice Cream

If you don’t have an electric mixer for whipping, just grab a whisk.Credit…Linda Xiao for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Hadas Smirnoff.

The reason this recipe works so well is because although there are only a few ingredients, each one does double duty. The cream’s fat content lends a rich, tongue-coating texture, and the air you whip into it creates volume and buoyancy, allowing the ice cream to stay supple when frozen.

(If you or your Airbnb don’t have an electric mixer for whipping, just grab a whisk, or a Mason jar for shaking. Your arms will get a mini workout.)

Then there’s the condensed milk: Since the sugar in it is already a liquid, it doesn’t need heat to dissolve. Viscous, syrupy and low-moisture, it also helps prevent ice crystals from forming, which makes for an especially smooth and velvety ice cream.

In this version I tweak the ingredients slightly, substituting store-bought dulce de leche for the condensed milk. The flavor is deeper and more complex, with toasty caramel notes replacing milky vanilla. Then I swirl more dulce de leche into the ice cream base for irresistibly sticky ripples of caramel throughout.

Swirl more dulce de leche into the ice cream base for irresistibly sticky ripples of caramel throughout.Credit…Linda Xiao for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Hadas Smirnoff.

To punctuate the sweetness with a few crunchy, savory pops, add a pinch of flaky sea salt to the dulce de leche before swirling it into the ice cream base. And while you’re at it, you can also mix in a few tablespoons of chopped nuts, shredded coconut or chocolate chunks or chips.

Once it’s frozen, scoop this delightful ice cream into cones or mound it on a sundae or banana split. Then again, you could take the time-honored, lazy-summer approach and spoon it up, languidly and meltingly, right from the container and into your mouth.

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