Brown Sugar Caramel Crunch Ice Cream

This rich, creamy ice cream comes together with just six simple ingredients! Dark brown sugar is the star of the show in both the ice cream base and in the crunchy, caramel bits. This is sure to be your new favorite ice cream!!
tub o delicious ice cream

I literally CANNOT WAIT for you to try this Brown Sugar Caramel Crunch Ice Cream!! This simple ice cream comes together with just six ingredients. C&H® Dark Brown Sugar is used in both the ice cream base and in the crunchy, hard caramel. You can expect lots of yes, caramel notes, as well as molasses. And the hard caramel tastes a bit like toasted marshmallow – perfect for summer!

I created this Brown Sugar Caramel Crunch Ice Cream in partnership with C&H® Sugar to really highlight the beautiful flavor of dark brown sugar. I absolutely fell so in love with it that I made a heap of it for Stella’s graduation (five more batches!!). It was so good with chocolate dipped ice cream cones…I give you instructions on how to do that below.

one beautiful bowl of ice cream

You Should Drop Everything and Make This Brown Sugar Caramel Crunch Ice Cream Now Because

  • The ice cream needs only six basic ingredients!
  • I’ve included instructions on how to make it without an ice cream maker.
  • The ice cream base and crunchy caramel come together quickly but allow time for the ice cream base to chill before turning into ice cream.
  • It’s FLIPPING DELICIOUS!!!
Three ice cream cones
ice cream ingredients
brown sugar ice cream base
one scoop of brown sugar ice cream

How To Make The Brown Sugar Caramel Crunch Ice Cream

Many ice cream recipes (including some of mine!) have you warm the milk and sugar over medium-low heat (to melt the sugar) and then slowly whisk in the eggs (hoping you don’t scramble the eggs in the process). *OR* they have you whisk the ice cream base in a saucepan to ‘cook’ the eggs to kill off any harmful bacteria. Another option that can result in partially cooked eggs.

Why aren’t we cooking our ice cream bases over a double boiler? Always?

To make things super easy, I have you place all of the ingredients in a large, heat-safe bowl (I use this one) and set the bowl over a large saucepan of simmer water (over medium-high heat).

Frequently whisk (don’t multitask) for about 10 minutes and the mixture has reached 160 F (71 C) with an instant-read thermometer.

Let the ice cream base cool completely before proceeding. Your ice cream won’t whip up as light and airy if it hasn’t cooled completely (trust me, I’ve been impatient for you).

The instructions are for using an ice cream maker…if you don’t have one, see below on instructions on how to make ice cream without one.

Ice cream scoop party
hard caramel gathering

To Make The Hard Caramel For Your Ice Cream

This brown sugar hard caramel is super easy to make but requires your undivided attention. It’s also a wee different than making caramel with granulated sugar.

The brown sugar will take a bit longer to melt. Stay patient and don’t crank up the heat as it will burn quite easily. Using a silicon spatula works best for stirring.

At first the caramel will resist melting, then it wills lowly melt, then it will look curdled (and like it will never be smooth) and then (and only then) will it turn into a glossy, peanut-butter looking consistency.

You’ll want to immediately pour it over a baking sheet. Use your spatula to make it as thin as possible, but it dries quickly and you will have some thick spots. No worries.

To break the caramel into small little bits, pulsing it in a food processor fitted with the blade attachment or a high-speed blender works best. If you have neither, you can chop it up on a cutting board or place it in a resealable plastic bag and pound on it with a rolling pin or meat tenderizer.

Don’t pulverize the caramel until ready to use.

Ice Cream Safety

Make sure you use fresh, pasteurized milk and eggs and cook your ice cream base to at least 160 F (71 C) to kill any harmful bacteria.

For more info on ice cream safety, visit the fda’s website!

Brown Sugar Caramel Crunch Ice Cream Add Ins

I can think of a million flavors that would go well with this ice cream, including:

  • Little Marshmallows
  • Ribbons of Dulce de Leche or Caramel
  • Roasted Peaches
  • Candied Pecans
  • Hot Fudge
  • …the possibilities are limitless!
chocolate dipped ice cream cones

Dipped Cones

For the photos I dipped sugar cones in good quality chocolate. Ideally, gently heat the chocolate over a double boiler (same as you did the ice cream base), dip the tip of the cones in the chocolate and set in a low, drinking glass to let the chocolate set.

For Stella’s graduation, I also dipped cake cones (and then added rainbow sprinkles) and some waffle cones. We should be dipping all of our cones in chocolate, tbh.

My best tip is to use the best quality chocolate possible (ideally not chips), heat gently (overheating chocolate is a catastrophe) and letting them set completely before using. Have fun!!

Three ice cream cones

More Ice Cream Treat Recipes

Lemon Basil Gelato

Affogato Ice Cream Cake

Salted Caramel Brown Butter Blondie Ice Cream

Chocolate Dipped Oatmeal Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches

Brown Sugar Caramel Crunch Ice Cream Equipment List

Ice Cream Maker
I have it in the red and the white — LOVE

Thermometer
I use this instant-read thermometer for everything from Swiss buttercream to candy

Whisk

Heat-Safe Bowl
Gavin got me these glass nesting bowls for Christmas year’s ago — I use them every single day

Silicon Spatula
I adore these spatulas for the way they handle heat and sticky baking projects (such as with this hard caramel)

High-Speed Blender
I use mine every, single day!

Ice Cream Containers
Not necessary, but fun ;)

Three ice cream cones

If You Don’t Have An Ice Cream Maker

When we lived in Beijing I didn’t have my ice cream maker with me. I made do with an immersion blender. The key to making light, smooth ice cream is to constantly break up the ice crystals that are dying to form.

So, if you don’t have an ice cream maker, set your ice cream in a deep bowl or lidded Tupperware container. Every 15 to 30 minutes, take it out of the freezer and mix it with the hand-held blender getting rid of any ice crystal formations. You could also place it in a high-speed blender or a Cuisinart fitted with the blade attachment (both of these options will make it a little harder transferring it between your freezer container and your mixing device…but we do).

Lastly, if you don’t have any of the above mixing appliances, you can use a good old spatula. You will develop muscle, you will have earned your ice cream…and it’s worth it.

You will need to take it out of the freezer and break up the ice crystals for several hours. You can stop once your ice cream looks smooth, creamy and light. It won’t be completely set (or hard), but it will have definitely firmed up.

Ice cream close up, yo
tub o delicious ice cream

Brown Sugar Caramel Crunch Ice Cream

This rich, creamy ice cream comes together with just six simple ingredients! Dark brown sugar is the star of the show in both the ice cream base and in the crunchy, caramel bits. This is sure to be your new favorite ice cream!!
5 from 4 votes
Print Save Rate
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Ice Cream
Keyword: Ice Cream, Brown Sugar, Caramel

Equipment

  • Ice Cream Maker (see note below for other methods)

Ingredients

For the Ice Cream

  • cups (360 g) whole milk
  • cups (360 g) heavy whipping cream
  • ¾ cups (165 g) C&H® Dark Brown Sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ vanilla bean split and scraped or 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste or extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

For the Caramel

Instructions

For the Ice Cream Base

  • In a large, heat-safe bowl add milk, cream, C&H® Dark Brown Sugar, eggs, vanilla bean seeds + pod (if using paste or extract add once off of the heat) and salt and set over a large saucepan of simmering water set over medium-high heat. Gently whisk for about 10 to 15 minutes or until the sugar is melted and the ice cream base is hot to the touch (it should reach 170 F (77 C) to kill any bacteria from the eggs). Remove from the heat and transfer to a large-lidded container. Add in the vanilla paste/extract if using. Cover and set in the fridge until chilled through, about 2 to 3 hours.

For the Caramel

  • While the ice cream cools, prepare your caramel by placing the remaining dark brown sugar in a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan set over medium heat and constantly stir with a silicone spatula until the sugar liquefies and no sugar crystals remain. Don’t turn up the heat to speed up the process. It will resist melting, then look clumpy. Keep stirring until it looks smooth and glossy, but it will still be quite thick.
  • Pour onto an ungreased baking sheet and use a spatula to spread evenly until it’s about ¼ to ⅛ inch (0.7 to 0.3 cm) thick. It will set quickly; don’t worry if it’s not perfect. Set aside for 1 hour or until cool and hardened. Once cool, turn out onto a cutting board and cut into small bits or you can also pulse in a high-speed blender until it’s mostly tiny little pieces (tip of a pencil or smaller). The hard caramel is sharp, so be careful. Set aside.

To Assemble

  • Once your ice cream base is cool, add to an ice cream maker (discard the vanilla bean pod) and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Once it is thick and creamy, add in the crushed caramel and run the machine for 1 minute more or until evenly distributed throughout. Store in a lidded container in the freezer for at least 2 to 3 hours or until ready to use.

Video

Notes

If you don’t have an ice cream maker, set your ice cream in a deep bowl or lidded Tupperware container. Every 15 to 30 minutes, take it out of the freezer and mix it with the hand-held blender getting rid of any ice crystal formations.
You could also place it in a high-speed blender or a Cuisinart fitted with the blade attachment (both of these options will make it a little harder transferring it between your freezer container and your mixing device…but we do).
Lastly, if you don’t have any of the above mixing appliances, you can use a good old spatula. You will develop muscle, you will have earned your ice cream…and it’s worth it.
You will need to take it out of the freezer and break up the ice crystals for several hours. You can stop once your ice cream looks smooth, creamy and light. It won’t be completely set (or hard), but it will have definitely firmed up.
Thanks for baking with me! Please tag me on social @displacedhousewife #displacedhousewife so I can see your beautiful treats! xo

This post + Brown Sugar Caramel Crunch Ice Cream recipe was created in collaboration with C&H® Sugar!! A big THANK YOU to them + you for supporting the brands I work with! 

10 Comments

  • Anita July 22, 2021 at 1:17 PM

    5 stars
    Well this just looks fabulous Becky! I have been using more brown sugar in my ice cream bases lately and I LOVE it. I have a CCC one coming soon! Ice cream is so fun! Love this one! xoxo – Anita

    Reply
    • Rebecca Firth July 24, 2021 at 8:51 AM

      Hi Ani!! Thank you!! I love all of your beautiful ice creams!! Brown sugar is so good in ice cream—love!! xox

      Reply
  • M July 21, 2021 at 10:06 PM

    Do you use the whole egg, or just the yolks? I haven’t seen a recipe use the whole egg before

    Reply
    • Rebecca Firth July 21, 2021 at 10:24 PM

      Hi! Use the whole egg in this recipe—you will love the texture!! xox

      Reply
  • Brianna July 18, 2021 at 2:46 PM

    5 stars
    I LOVE brown sugar anything, and crunchies in my ice cream? Forget about it! I just pulled this out of the ice cream maker and had a taste before freezing it and it was FANTASTIC! But of course I never doubted that I wouldn’t be, every recipe of yours that I’ve tried has been a success!

    Reply
    • Rebecca Firth July 18, 2021 at 2:51 PM

      You’re literally making my day—I’m so happy that you love it!!!!! Enjoy!!! xox

      Reply
  • Hilary July 14, 2021 at 7:47 AM

    5 stars
    These look amazing and perfect treat for the summer heat!!!!!!

    Reply
  • Sally July 13, 2021 at 5:48 PM

    5 stars
    Looks really tasty! Perfect for this time of year.

    Reply

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