Apple Cider Ice Cream with Caramel Sauce

It’s getting cold outside. I saw some yellow trees yesterday, so if the typical pattern of Ohio weather holds true, there should be a foot of snow any day now. So, what better time to make ICE CREAM!? The seasonal, festive inspiration behind it outweighs the weather anyway.

The best thing about this ice cream is that it doesn’t require a machine. None of the ice creams I make do. Because I have a tiny kitchen, and therefore no space for large, single-function gadgets. This method is much easier anyway. It does not require any of that egg-tempering or slow-churning nonsense for people with patience. It also only requires 3 ingredients!

Caramel sauce, on the other hand, is something most people think is very difficult. But this one is pretty simple, you just have to pay attention. So don’t Cook and Netflix for this one and it’ll be fine. If you wanted, you could just buy caramel sauce from a store, but homemade is much better. It’s also thicker, so you can use it for dipping things like apple slices into and end up eating half a bowl by yourself in one sitting. I mean…or so I would imagine. I wouldn’t know or anything.

Apple Cider Ice Cream

You will need:

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk (fat-free)
  •  (2) .74 oz packs of apple cider instant drink mix

To begin, put your sweetened condensed milk can in the fridge to chill for a few minutes when you take out your heavy cream. Add the cream to a large bowl and using an electric mixer, beat until you get soft peaks. I’m convinced that cream takes longer to whip every time I do it, but I find picturing the large amount of ice cream it will yield makes it easier. Once that’s done, you can add your slightly chilled condensed milk.

For the record, I am not trying to trick you into making some weird diet substitution when I recommend using fat-free. Believe me, I’m all for rich and fatty ice cream, but in this case, the regular variety will add a weird mouth feel when you eat it. This is one of the few times when fat-free is better. So once you get the can emptied into your bowl, just mix it again to incorporate. You now have the base for your ice cream. This is a fairly widely used no machine base, so I won’t claim I discovered it. But whoever did has my eternal gratitude.

With this base made, you can customize the flavors however you want. There are endless possibilities, and some of my favorite ones I come up with will probably be posted here eventually. But today we’re making an apple cider version, not getting sidetracked.

So sprinkle the apple cider drink mix into your ice cream base. Make sure you buy the instant drink mix, not those packs of “mulling spices.” I usually find it in boxes of 10 packs. It will be with the hot chocolate mixes and that kind of thing. Now just mix that in well with the electric mixer. Finally, pour it into freezer-safe containers to set. It usually fills up 2-3 of my screw top plastic storage bowls, which I consider single servings. The food pyramid people would probably disagree.

Unfortunately that needs to freeze for at least 6 hours, but preferably overnight. I often have to sample a spoonful once every hour or two. You know, just to make sure it’s okay at every stage. Note that even when frozen, this ice cream sets slightly softer than most, so you at least don’t have to let it soften before scooping.

Homemade Caramel Sauce

You will need:

  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup sugar (granulated)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 Tbs butter

You will need to make this in a larger pot than you think. It bubbles up a lot at the end, so if you use a sauce pan it will bubble over. As I said before, the only key here is to be attentive. To start, add the sugar to your large pot and pour the water over it. Swirl your pot around to get all the sugar in the water. Did I say attentiveness was the only key? I lied. The second key with caramel is to never stir. Seriously, not at all at this stage. I just don’t get a spoon out, that way I’m not tempted. If you stir melting sugar it will crystallize and get grainy. So heat that over medium-high heat, SWIRLING occasionally just to make sure you don’t get hot spots.

The sugar will start to bubble and most of the water will evaporate. You don’t need a candy thermometer for this, you can just keep an eye on it. It will take several minutes to change color, but once it starts, it goes really fast. You are looking for a deep amber color. Have your heavy cream already measured out, and once you see the first color change, pop it in the microwave for about 20 seconds just to warm it slightly. Practically by the time it’s done, it will be time to add it. Here’s an example of about what the correct color is.


When it gets to that stage, quickly move it off the heat and add your heavy cream and STAND BACK. It will bubble and sputter dramatically and seem a lot more scary than it is, but just watch the steam, because it will burn you. NOW you can stir with a large wooden spoon until the tantrum dies down, and you will see that you are left with a pot of beautiful caramel sauce. Return it to the heat and reduce to low while you add the butter. Stir until it melts in, then just pour the sauce into a clean bowl to cool. Be careful, because it is still very hot. Resist the urge to stick your finger in it until it has cooled.

You can store this sauce in the fridge in an airtight container and just microwave it for a few seconds when you want it. When your ice cream is ready, just spoon it over the top  and enjoy!


Feel free to ignore my terrible inability to scoop ice cream nicely. Ice cream isn’t about looking pretty anyway. You’re supposed to be too busy shoveling it into your mouth to look at it.

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