Woman holding an ice cream cone with burnt caramel gelato


Smoke, scorched pans, and the possibility of third-degree burns.  It’s pure kitchen napalm.

And it’s the most delicious gelato I’ve ever had.

Burnt caramel gelato is exactly what it sounds like – caramel taken to the brink of no return then rising up through the almost ashes with a generous dose of cream to become a rich smoky-sweet gelato that rolls over the tongue.  A hit of salt gives it a little kick to balance the sugar.    Straight from the freezer, the texture is gelateria soft.

Working with hot sugar is no joke but its easy enough with a few precautions.  Go slow and respect the boiling sugar.

spoon pouring caramel


A few tips:

Pre-measure the ingredients and set aside a time to cook when there will be no interruptions. Use a high-sided saucepot. It shouldn’t be too wide but it does need to be tall to keep the caramel from bubbling over. Wear an oven mitt while stirring to protect your hands. Once the sugar starts turning brown the color will deepen very quickly.

It goes against every instinct, but let that caramel cook longer than you think it should.  When it seems like a lost cause, almost black and kind of smokey THAT is the moment!  A few big bubbles will appear on the surface. Carefully add the rest of the ingredients and let it cool to room temperature.

scooping caramel gelato out of container

Making the gelato itself is business as usual – mix, cook, cure, and process.   Add in coarse salt to taste.  I like to serve it on baked apples in the fall, in a cone for summer, and straight out of the container when no one’s watching.



This is next level caramel gelato.   Undertones of burnt sugar add a layer of smokiness and depth of flavor without being overly sweet.  A soft, scoopable gelato that dissolves in your mouth with a little salt kicker.  Yes please.



  • 512g  whole milk
  • 122g  heavy cream
  • 144g  sugar
  •   25g  non-fat milk powder
  •     5g  tapioca starch
  •   28g  light corn syrup
  •   64g  egg yolks
  • 100g  burnt caramel at room temp
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla paste (optional)
  •    1 tsp Kosher salt (or to taste)


  • 225g  sugar
  • 139g  heavy cream
  •   70g  light corn syrup
  •   58g  butter cut in chunks



Make the burnt caramel (see recipe below) and let cool to room temperature. Make an ice bath – place a few ice cubes and a few cups of water in a large bowl.  Set aside. Have a clean bowl or container and a fine mesh strainer standing by.


Combine sugars, non-fat milk powder and tapioca starch in a bowl. Combine milk and cream in a large bowl.  Whisk in the dry ingredients (except the salt) until there are no lumps. Add corn syrup and egg yolks, whisking until fully incorporated.


Place the mixture in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook for 8-10 minutes.  Do not let it come to a boil.  Keep stirring the mixture while it cooks.  In the last few minutes stir without stopping as the mixture begins to thicken – you will feel a subtle difference.

Once it’s thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, pour it through a fine mesh strainer into the bowl that is standing by. Add burnt caramel and vanilla paste (if using) to the gelato and blend using an immersion blender (or regular blender) on a low setting until the mixture is completely smooth with no streaks.

Place a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of the gelato to prevent a skin from forming. Put the bowl of hot gelato into the ice bath.


After the gelato has cooled, remove from the ice bath and refrigerate for 4-12 hours.


Give the gelato a quick stir then process in an ice-cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.   Just before it’s done sprinkling in the salt a little at a time while it’s churning. The gelato is finished when it reaches the consistency of soft serve ice cream (about 20-30 minutes) Scoop into a container, place a piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper on the surface and freeze until firm (4 hours minimum)


Gently warm the cream in a small saucepan over low heat. Place sugar in a small heavy bottom saucepan with high sides over medium heat. Stir the sugar until it is almost all melted then allow it to cook undisturbed. Let the sugar turn an almost black brown.  If the sugar foams up give it a quick stir to settle it.

When it’s black, smokey and there’s with a few big bubbles on the surface it’s ready. Immediately take it off the heat. Take your time and work carefully while wearing an oven mitt – the sugar is very very hot.  Stir in the corn syrup.   Stand back and add the warm cream (the mixture will foam up)

Keep stirring the caramel, scrapping the bottom. Add in the butter one chunk at a time, stirring until fully incorporated. Carefully pour the hot caramel into a container.


Wearing an oven mitt is a must while making the burnt caramel.   The sugar gets HOT. This recipe makes more than you’ll need for gelato.  Store the extra in the fridge. The cold caramel will firm up and separate.  Just bring to room temp and stir before using.

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