You know that smell that hits you as soon as the door of Karamell Kuche is opened? I know I can be standing at the Pretzel Cart in the Germany Pavilion, and know when someone has just entered Karamel Kuche by the sweet buttery smell of heaven wafting across the way. I get instantly jealous and make a bee-line for some caramel goodness myself. It’s like there’s this invisible cord of caramel pulling me in.
This ice cream pie pretty much tastes like that smell. It is sweet and creamy and salty and sticky and gooey and crunchy and rich and decadent and definitely a crowd-pleaser. And trust me, you’re going to want to make this for a crowd (otherwise, if you’re like me, you could put this whole thing away by yourself and spend the rest of the week in sweatpants 🙂 ).
Yes, I’ll admit, there are quite a few steps to this one. The good news is that each step is pretty easy, and you end up with a stellar, delicious ice cream pie. So roll up your sleeves and get ready!
First, we’ll make the pretzel crust. You’ll need about 2-1/2 cups of pretzel crumbs (just pulse some pretzel sticks in a food processor a few times), then mix them with some brown sugar and butter. Press this into the base and up the sides of a 10″ deep dish pie plate and bake for about 10 minutes. Let it cool completely, then stick it in the freezer until we’re ready for it. You may notice in this picture there’s still some big pieces of pretzel. PLEASE take the time to get your pretzel pieces smaller than mine. Some of those larger pieces are harder to cut through when frozen. You should pretty much end up with pretzel crumbs.
Now, the caramel ice cream is a little trickier than my normal bases. We’re going to make a basic caramel first, by dry-cooking the sugar over medium heat. Make sure the sugar is in a thin layer evenly spread out across the bottom of the pan, and practice extreme self-control at this point – don’t touch it until almost all of the sugar is melted. When there’s just a little bit of white sugar left on top, stir it just enough to incorporate it into the melted sugar, then let it continue to cook until it is a deep amber color. Remove from heat and SLOWLY pour in the cream, stirring the whole time. The sugar will seize at this point, but return the pot to the heat and keep stirring. Most (if not all) of the hardened sugar will incorporate into the cream. Add the milk and corn syrup at this point, and then you’re back on track for a regular ice cream base. Be sure to save the egg whites from this one – you’ll need them for the Marshmallow Meringue. Cool completely, then churn in your ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s recommendations. After churning, pour into prepared pretzel crust and place back in the freezer. (Once it’s frozen, cover with plastic wrap.)
For the Marshmallow Meringue (okay, technically it’s an Italian Meringue, but Marshmallow Meringue sounds infinitely more whimsical and deserving of this pie), you start with beating some egg whites to get them fluffy and holding stiff peaks. Meanwhile, heat sugar with a little bit of water until it reaches 240 degrees on a candy thermometer. Slowly pour the heated sugar into the egg whites and beat on high until stiff peaks are formed and the mixture is completely cooled.
Cover the caramel ice cream with the meringue, being sure to go all the way to the edges, and put back in freezer for at least 3-4 hours.
Now comes the fun part. 🙂 We need to brown the meringue! I, of course, did this with a kitchen torch. Being sure to use a steady hand, work your way around the pie, making sure to brown up all the little valleys you created, without getting the tips too burnt.
As you may be able to see in some of my pictures, I spent a little too much time over the spots I was taking pictures of. 🙂 If you don’t have a kitchen torch, don’t worry, just place the pie in a 475 degree oven for a few minutes until the meringue is starting to brown. Bonus: This way helps soften the ice cream so it’s easier to cut! But I say, if you ever have an opportunity to use a kitchen torch, use the kitchen torch.
You’re now ready to serve and wow your guests. Enjoy!
Karamell Küche Ice Cream Pie with Pretzel Crust & Marshmallow Meringue
2-1/2 cups pretzel crumbs
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup brown sugar
Mix all ingredients and press into a 10″ deep dish pie crust. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes. Remove from oven, cool completely, then place in freezer until ready to use.
Salted Caramel Ice Cream:
3/4 cup sugar
1-1/2 cups heavy cream
2 cups whole milk
1 Tbsp. corn syrup
3 egg yolks (save the whites)
Generous pinch of salt
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
Spread out the sugar in a thin layer in a large, heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat. Allow the sugar to melt without stirring or disturbing it until it is almost all melted. Then carefully stir the sugar and allow it to continue cooking until it reaches a dark amber color. Remove from heat, and slowly pour in the cream, stirring the whole time. Be careful! It will spit and seize at this point. Return the pan to the heat and continue stirring. Most of the hardened sugar should melt into the cream mixture. Add the milk and the corn syrup, bring to a boil, and cook for five minutes, and remove from heat. In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks with the salt. Slowly pour about 1 cup of the hot cream mixture into the eggs, stirring the whole time. Add the egg mixture back into the pot with the remaining cream, return to heat, and cook over low until slightly thickened (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and brown sugar, and cool completely.
When cool, pour into base of ice cream machine and churn according to manufacturer’s recommendations. Transfer ice cream to the prepared pretzel crust, smooth out the top, and freeze for at least 4 hours.
4 egg whites
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 tsp vanilla
Pinch of salt
Begin beating the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer. In a small saucepan, mix the water and sugar and cook over medium high heat. Once the sugar dissolves, don’t stir it. Cook until it reaches 240 degrees on a candy thermometer, or until it reaches soft-ball stage (to test, drop a small amount into a cup of cold water then try to squeeze it between your fingers; if it’s pliable but stays together, it’s ready). Slowly pour the melted sugar into the egg whites with the mixer on medium low, being careful not to let it touch the sides of the bowl. Turn the mixer up to high and beat until stiff peaks are formed and the meringue is completely cool – you’ll know it’s cool when the sides of the mixing bowl are cool. Spoon meringue onto frozen caramel ice cream. Feel free to get creative and make any kind of design you’d like in the meringue (perhaps some Mickey ears?).
When ready to serve, remove the pie from freezer and brown the meringue, either by using a kitchen torch, or by placing in a 475 degree oven for just a few minutes (if you use the kitchen torch, let the pie sit out for about 10 minutes to make it easier to slice).