Along the Grapevine

Salted Caramel Spruce Ice Cream

47 Comments

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After having harvested and preserved a few cups of tender young spruce tips for yesterday’s post, what to do with them today? I wanted to make something special for Angies’ Fiesta Friday, but I don’t have a whole lot of experience cooking with this particular ingredient. I did make teacookies and a vodka infusion all with pine needles, so I have to take it to the next level. Also it was difficult to decide which preserve I should use – the salt, sugar or syrup. The syrup is very easy to eat, with much of the resin flavour barely perceptible, so would be good for those who are not yet ready for a large dose of the spruce’s distinctive flavour. On the other hand, the sugar and salt are such excellent vehicles for this unusual flavour, I wanted to experiment with them first.

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Finally, I decided on ice cream – an ice cream that combines sugar and salt, and of course these gorgeous little green shoots. So first I made a caramel sauce, let it cool, and stirred in just a little of the salt and spruce mix. I figured that if it was really bad, at least I wouldn’t have wasted my home-made ice cream. Well, it was not really bad. In fact, it was superb and I could have just eaten it all, but resisted and saved it to swirl into my plain ice cream. You could take this sauce and just serve it with a vanilla ice cream. You could also use it with your own favourite recipe. But I will share with you my simple ice cream made with a custard base along with the caramel sauce and, of course, the spruce-flavoured salt.

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Salted Caramel Spruce Ice Cream

The Ice Cream

1 cup milk

1 cup heavy cream (35%)

1/4 cup sugar

3 eggs, beaten

Heat the first three ingredients until they start to boil. Remove 1 cup of this mixture, and add just a little at a time to the eggs. Return the egg mixture to the pan and continue to stir on a low heat until it coats a spoon (or is about 170 F). Allow to cool. Put it into the fridge until cold. Pour it into an ice cream machine and allow to freeze.

The Caramel

1/4 cup melted butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup milk

1 tsp. spruce salt

Over a medium heat, add the brown sugar to the melted butter and once dissolved, add the milk. Continue to stir for about 8 minutes, until the mixture thickens. If not sure, remove a small amount on a spoon and when it is cool, it should be of caramel sauce consistency. Remove from the heat and let it cool completely. Add the spruce salt.

Spruce Salt

1 part spruce tips, 1 part coarse sea salt

Blend these in a food processor until the tips are roughly chopped. Spread on a tray to dry.

To finish, take the ice cream from the machine, stir in the caramel sauce gently using a knife to create a marble effect. Place in a covered container and freeze.

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Author: Hilda

I am a backyard forager who likes to share recipes using the wild edibles of our area.

47 thoughts on “Salted Caramel Spruce Ice Cream

  1. So creative Hilda!!!

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  2. Spruce ice cream? Wow

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  3. Amazing. I imagine it to be a little like mint in it’s zingy-ness and freshness, and with that bracing, clean aroma. But it must be a totally different flavor, at the same time. Hmmm. Totally awesome. I’ve been seeing spruce in the most chic modernist-cuisine restaurants and cookbooks recently, yet here we find it along the grapevine . . . simple and beautiful!

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    • Thanks, Sue. I think foraged foods are coming into their own – especially in the US. I haven’t seen much on spruce anywhere, but would love to see what other people are doing.

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      • I’ve seen spruce oil and “grilled asparagus and tender spruce’ but now that I’ve gone to my cookbook (Noma Recipes” from that world famous uber-modern restaurant chef Rene Redzepi) I see that the recipe literally involves ” . . . put a pile of spruce needles on each plate . . .” Okay, I can do that. But he uses a lot of “pine oil” and “pine vinegar” which are simple infusions. All sorts of fun stuff in this book . . . woodruff, sea buckthorn, damson capers, hay ash, hay cream, lovage oil, spruce oil. Right up your alley!

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      • He does sound like my sort of guy. Love the spruce needles on the plate, but you have to be a pretty good chef to get away with that. We amateurs would just be laughed at.

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  4. Aha! So that was what was cooking, err freezing in your kitchen! Absolutely stunning🙂.

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  5. Pingback: Fiesta Friday #19 | The Novice Gardener

  6. Oh my, this looks and sounds so very tempting, Hilda. Caramel & salt is such a burner, and with even spruce salt, this is definitely the next level. Great idea!

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  7. I love anything and everything caramel. Wonderful recipe and a very lovely blog! Thanks so much for bringing this delicious treat to Fiesta Friday!🙂

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    • Thanks for the comments and for following my blog. FF is such a great way to meet like-minded bloggers and discover new ideas.

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      • I know! I cannot believe the amazing people and the incredible blogs I’ve been introduced to through Fiesta Friday!🙂

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  8. Such an inspirational recipe! I wish I could taste a spoonful! Just yesterday I read about lilac ice cream and also became very curious. Once I am home again I will have to start experimenting with my own ‘garden-themed ice cream’!

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    • I’m afraid I over-dried my lilacs. My violet syrup took some time but is very pretty now and thinking about what to do with it that preserves its colour. I will continue to work with the spruce though as it has been a total success so far with all who tried it. Thanks for visiting my blog and commenting.

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  9. I first heard of spruce tips being edible last year, probably from Tama Matsuoka Wong’s book, but haven’t had the chance to give them a try. I have a huge spruce tree, or at least I think it is. The leaves smell so fresh, almost like eucalyptus, no? I might go and nibble on a piece of needle tomorrow.🙂 Thanks, Hilda, for always giving us inspiration!

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    • I nibbled on a few quite tasty but best in small doses, which is why I like the salt and sugar mixtures. Let me know what you think if you try it.

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  10. Hilda, you are amazing! I had not heard of spruce tips or that they are edible until I saw your post from yesterday. Like, who thought of it as being edible. I’d love to have this ice cream or any recipe you used them in to see their attributed taste/fragrance.🙂

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    • Thank you, Fae. Like many wild plants, the picking time is rather limited, and my ‘tips’ are becoming a bit bushy. But at least I have made a start, and you well know how one idea leads to another, so hope I can come up with some other successful recipes.
      By the way, it’s great to have you back amongst us.

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  11. Hilda, you continue to amaze me! When are you publishing your cookbook? I will be the first one to buy a copy!

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  12. Your recipe looks awesome Hilda🙂 There are no Spruce in Dubai but I will try with Lemon Verbena !

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    • I like to think that my ideas can be taken further to other sources. We don’t all share the same wild edibles, but I’m pretty sure there are equivalents everywhere, as long as you are careful to distinguish between edibles and others safely. Lemon verbena sounds like a great plant to experiment with.

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  13. What an exciting ingredient to use! I’d love to be able to try your Spruce and Salted Caramel Ice Cream – it sounds amazing!

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  14. you are an artist!!!!

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  15. so great idea! I love quite everything with caramel, and you’re really skillful to make it on your own! Congrats! Happy Fiesta Friday and have a great week-end!Cris

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  16. An ice cream shop near me serves pine flavored ice cream seasonally and salted Carmel ice cream year round. I never would have thought to put the two flavored together. Looks amazing though!

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    • Sounds like a great ice cream shop. You must live in a very sophisticated metropolis – there’s nothing like that here. Thanks for the comment and for stopping by.

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  17. I am learning so much from you Hilda! Had no idea that spruce tips are edible! Stunning ice cream!

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  18. Wow! That’s so interesting, I wish I could try your ice cream! Great recipe, Hilda!

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  19. I love salt, caramel, ice cream…and spruce??? Never thought of that before, but it sounds so good! I’m stopping by for a pint🙂

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  20. I’m not even sure what spruces are, but this sounds so good it makes me want to try it!

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  21. As usual, you did something wonderful with an ingredient I have never imagined to use!

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  22. woooow! what an idea! I have a lot of those next to my door! But I think y=they are now to old to use. Should check this evening. Going to travel, however, so what do you think is I gather them and put into freezer?

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  23. Mine are getting a bit bushy too, but I tried one this morning, and it still tasted quite good, so might collect a few more. They keep for quite a long time in a cool place, or just leave them on a tray to dry a bit. I think it would be hard to use frozen ones for the salt and sugar, since I imagine they would break down too much and be mushy – although maybe one of us should experiment.

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  24. Wow! What an unusual ingredient – not something we would have here in Australia, but it definitely sounds interesting🙂

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  25. This makes me think of Christmas! Apple pie a la mode with your caramel spruce ice cream. Oh tasty!

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