Caramel Swirl Almond Gelato for the win…rich frozen custard (lighter in fat than regular ice cream) with a salted caramel sauce ribbon. Yum!

Pleasing to my tummy

It’s summertime, and besides peach or berry cobbler and watermelon salad with mint and feta, one of my favorite things to make is homemade ice cream. It’s incredibly easy to make…at its most basic all you really need is heavy cream and a sweetener (that’s the base). After that you flavor your base as you please (vanilla beans, chocolate, mint…) and add mix-ins if you’d like (chocolate chips, nuts, cookie crumbles). You then churn the base in an ice cream maker, then freeze until it hardens (called ripening). Easy peasy.

Nobody told me how things would change as I aged. Sure, there are the obvious changes in skin tone (does it have to sag like that!) and hair color (which my hairdresser assures me no one will know about…don’t tell anyone I told you). But I didn’t know my tolerance for sweets would diminish (hence my overfondness for dark chocolate), and that dairy products would become a problem…if I have something dairy that hasn’t been cooked or processed by bacteria (think puddings, hard cheeses, or yogurt), then…uhm…pass the antacids this way, please.

I don’t have a problem when an ice cream base is cooked into a custard first (that’s also why I can tolerate cooked puddings and the pastry cream in Boston Cream Pie). In fact, this type of custard base (a version of Crème Anglaise for you purists) is in the same family as pastry cream, just with less eggs, more sugar, and without the cornstarch thickener. The added benefit is that frozen custards are richer in flavor and have more body than non-custard-based ice creams. With that added richness comes added calories, and that’s where gelato comes into our story.

Gelato…all the flavor, not all the calories

Think of gelato as the lighter (in calories, not in texture) Italian cousin of ice cream…its base has twice as much milk than cream (2:1, to be exact) so it has a lower butterfat content than typical ice cream. You’re not sacrificing any of that ice-creamy goodness though…gelato is still smooth and rich, especially if you’re using a cooked custard base (which I am). Win! Savory Simple had a recipe for Vanilla Milk Gelato that fit the bill for a custard-based gelato nicely. Normally I’d be using the vanilla beans called for in that recipe, infusing them into the milk/cream mixture. However, I had run out, so I had the brainwave to use some almond extract in with the vanilla extract (just to up the flavor profile a little)…that addition gave the gelato lovely buttery-almond notes. I also decided to add a caramel swirl (adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction’s Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce)…I thought it would complement the almond flavor better than chocolate (gasp!). The method for adding the caramel swirl came from Epicurious. So, presenting…

Caramel Swirl Almond Gelato

caramel swirl almond gelato ingredients
Gelato ingredients…deceptively simple for such goodness
caramel swirl almond gelato plated unadorned
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5 from 1 vote

Caramel Swirl Almond Gelato

Caramel Swirl Almond Gelato for the frozen custard (lighter in fat than regular ice cream) with a caramel sauce ribbon. Yum!
Adapted from Savory Simple and Epicurious
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Inactive9 hrs
Total Time9 hrs 20 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American, Italian
Keyword: Almonds, Caramel, Caramel Sauce, Epicurious, Gelato, Ice Cream
Servings: 8 1/2 cup servings
Calories: 350kcal
Author: Tammy Spencer, Scotch & Scones

Special Equipment

  • ice cream maker


  • 2 cups milk (16 oz, 454g)
  • 1 cup heavy cream (8 oz, 227g)
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup sugar (5 1/4oz, 150g), 150g
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • Salted Caramel Sauce, see separate recipe


  • Heat the milk and cream in a medium saucepan set over medium heat until simmering, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a medium-sized bowl until the yolks lighten in color slightly.
  • Remove the milk mixture from the heat and pour slowly into the egg yolks while whisking (called tempering. I usually ladle about 1 cup of the hot milk mixture, the idea being you heat the eggs slowly to avoid curdling them) Pour the warmed egg mixture back into the saucepan, scraping the bowl.
  • Return the saucepan to the heat and, stir until the mixture thickens slightly, approximately 3-4 minutes. Don't allow the mixture to boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and almond extracts.
  • Strain the custard into a clean bowl and cool using an ice bath (1/2 ice cubes, 1/2 water, reaching halfway up the sides of the bowl). When cooled to room temperature, cover and chill in refrigerator at least 4 hours or overnight. (Chilled custard can be kept several days)
  • Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and prepare the gelato according to the manufacturer's instructions, until it's smooth and frozen, about 25-30 minutes.
  • Transfer one third ice cream to a 2-quart airtight container and drizzle one third of the caramel sauce over it. Repeat layering with remaining ice cream and caramel sauce. Freeze ice cream until hard, at least 8 hours, and up to 1 week.

Recipe Notes

You can use any type of milk you'd like...I don’t keep whole milk in the house, so used 1% milk with no perceptible change in texture.
If the sauce boils during thickening (breaking it), straining it out will help remove any curdled bits of eggs.
If you want to leave out the almond extract, feel free...just up the vanilla extract to 1-1/2 tsp. Better yet, infuse the milk & cream with a vanilla bean, halved and scraped, letting it steep in the warm milk 30 minutes. Remove the spent bean before tempering the mixture into the eggs.
For those of you wondering why I didn't add toasted almonds to my gelato, it's because my husband doesn't like nuts in his ice creams. I would have totally done it otherwise.
The ice cream maker I'm using is a KitchenAid Ice Cream Maker Attachment for my KitchenAid Stand Mixer. If that's not available, this Cuisinart does a great job also.
caramel swirl almond gelato, making custard base
Making the custard base…whisking the sugar & egg yolks, tempering in the hot milk mixture, thickening it up, and straining into a bowl


Caramel Swirl Almond Gelato, churning the base
Churning the chilled custard base into something wonderful

…and how about that Salted Caramel Sauce?

salted caramel sauce ingredients
From these unpretentious ingredients comes salty & sweet caramel goodness


salted caramel sauce in jar
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5 from 1 vote

Salted Caramel Sauce

Salty, sweet, and utterly delicious, this caramel sauce can be used for baking or as an incredible ice cream topping!
Adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction
Prep Time2 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Inactive Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 17 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Caramel, Caramel Sauce, Gelato, Ice Cream, Ice Cream Toppings, Sally's Baking Addiction
Author: Tammy Spencer, Scotch & Scones


  • 1 cup sugar (200g)
  • 1 Tbsp corn syrup (20g)
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream (6oz, 170g), warmed
  • 4 Tbsp butter (2 oz 57g), salted (or unsalted, if you'd prefer)
  • 1 tsp salt


  • In a large saucepan, melt sugar and corn syrup with enough water to look like wet sand (about 1/4 cup), then bring to boil over Medium heat until the caramel has a deep amber color (about 10-12 minutes). DO NOT STIR during this process, but wash down sides of saucepan with a wet pastry brush. Watch it carefully…the caramel will turn dark very quickly at the end!
  • Once deep amber color is reached, remove from heat and stir in butter (mixture will boil up, so STIR it to keep from bubbling over). Return to heat and stir the butter into the caramel until it is completely melted, about 2 minutes.
  • SLOWLY add the warmed cream, stirring constantly (mixture will boil up again). Allow the mixture to boil for 1 minute. It will rise in the pan as it boils, so keep stirring!
  • Remove from heat and stir in salt. Cool to room temperature before using (caramel thickens as it cools).
  • Cover any remaining caramel tightly and store for up to 1 month in the refrigerator. Reheat gently in the microwave or on the stove to desired consistency (and to keep it from separating)

Recipe Notes

The 1 Tbsp corn syrup stabilizes the caramel during browning. You can leave it out, however if the sugar crystalizes during the melting stage, add some water with 1-2 Tbsp corn syrup to resoften sugar crystals and recaramelize the syrup.
Similarly, adding water at the beginning keeps the sugar from burning if you're not careful. If you leave it out, the caramel will turn amber faster, but you have to be super diligent, swirling the sugar in the pan as it melts.
You can leave out the extra salt if you want Vanilla Caramel Sauce
The sugar syrup can go from light amber to a black mess very quickly...keep an eye on it and remove from heat as soon as your desired color is reached.


salted caramel sauce, making the caramel
The sugar goes from white to light amber in about 10 minutes, and from there to “get it off the heat!” dark amber in less than 2 minutes


Salted Caramel Sauce
The finished caramel sauce, cooling.


Caramel Swirl Almond Gelato, layering in the caramel
Layering in the caramel swirl. Yes, it was difficult not to lick the bowl(s).

Tales of an imperfect chef

I don’t keep whole milk in the house, and using my customary 1% milk didn’t reduce the flavor or texture at all. I did make the mistake of letting my attention wander a bit and I let the custard base boil after tempering in the eggs. The base broke, but after straining and chilling, the base froze like a dream…a rich, buttery, sweet dream. As for the caramel sauce, after burning the sugar or having the sugar syrup seize on me in the past, I’ve learned to initially add a bit of water and a tablespoon of corn syrup to stabilize the mixture. Also, here I didn’t let me attention wander…the syrup can go from just lightly amber to a black mess in less than a couple of minutes. Be diligent and be warned!

[Side note: If you want to leave out the almond extract, feel free…just up the vanilla extract to 1-1/2 tsp. Better yet, infuse the milk & cream with a vanilla bean, halved and scraped, letting it steep in the warm milk 30 minutes. Remove the spent bean before tempering the mixture into the eggs.]

[Another Side note: For those of you wondering why I didn’t add toasted almonds to my gelato, it’s because my husband doesn’t like nuts in his ice creams. I would have totally done it otherwise.]

[Another-Another Side note (sheesh!): The ice cream maker I’m using is a KitchenAid Ice Cream Maker Attachment for my KitchenAid Stand Mixer. If that’s not available, this Cuisinart does a great job also.]


caramel swirl almond gelato, gelato, ice cream
Unadorned Caramel Swirl Almond Gelato…just as rich and delicious as it looks!


Caramel Swirl Almond Gelato has got to be one of the best ice creams (ahem…gelato!) I’ve ever made, and I’ve made a fair few. The addition of a drizzle of extra caramel sauce (and maybe a drizzle of hot fudge, too…you didn’t think I’d completely be without chocolate, did you?) just adds to the experience. Most importantly, it makes my tummy happy, in more ways than one!

Slainté! L’chaim! Cheers!


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1 Comment

  1. Shira Duff July 26, 2019 at 6:38 am

    5 stars
    Those pictures!! Looks so good!


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