Sugar-free Creme Brulee Ice Cream is the perfect combination of a rich, eggy custard base with the crunch of caramelized sugar. The best part of this dessert is the fact that it is sugar-free, low-carb, and keto-friendly.
Growing up in Wisconsin means that you have dairy in your blood. We talk about cheese or soft-serve ice cream like some people talk about wine. I’ve had an entire conversation about the ice to cream ratio in my $2.29 soft-serve cone from the Briq’s in Minocqua, Wisconsin. I have favorite spots for hard-pack ice cream, and some I’ll never visit again. We are connoisseurs of milk. Plain and simple. It’s no misnomer that we are the dairy state. Interstates are littered with cheese shops. It’s just part of the culture.
When I moved to Illinois, I wasn’t about to abandon my love of dairy products. Luckily I get to apply that now o deep-dish pizzas as the regional favorite. Crust-less, deep-dish pizzas, of course, but you get the point. We don’t have the abundance of delicious ice creams and cheeses down here, and I do sure miss my drive-in ice cream shacks, but at least I have an amply stocked grocery store. That, unfortunately, was a key contributor to my downward health spiral.
Ice cream. Oh, ice cream. We’ve had a love hate relationship. I love to eat you, but hate that you were an integral culprit in my poor health choices. I genuinely hate to admit this, but my husband and I would eat a pint of ice cream each on an almost nightly basis. A pint of Ben & Jerry’s is somewhere around 1200 calories. No wonder we were so unhealthy. We were killing ourselves with unnecessary sugar and carbs. I won’t do the math on how much sugar that was per day. Just trust me when I say it’s an obscene number.
For a while, eating sugar-free and low-carb meant ice cream was off the table. “Diet” ice cream was geared towards low-fat and low-sugar, and chalk full of weird things that I couldn’t pronounce. The industry is slowly catching up, but my husband missed ice cream. We had received an ice-cream attachment for our Kitchen Aid mixer for our wedding, but it lay mostly dormant as the thought of making ice cream seemed overly complicate and obnoxious. I was more concerned about creating an inedible, icy mess.
After some trial and error, I’m incredibly excited to bring you Sugar-free Creme Brulee Ice Cream. I love the combination of caramel, eggy custard, and burnt sugar shards. The ice cream base itself is so yummy, you may want to drink it with a straw before even churning it. My son licked the bowl clean. After churning, you’ll get a rich, smooth ice cream with a subtle caramel flavor. Sprinkle it with sugar shards, and you’ll be in creme brulee heaven. Enjoy.
Tips, Tricks, and Take-aways:
- Due to the use of erythritol, this ice cream will freeze to a very solid state. I leave my container out on the counter for about 30 minutes to let it soften.
- Tempering the custard base does require a low heat and either a candy thermometer or a good understanding of what it means to “coat the back of a spoon”. You’ll get scrambled eggs if you let the heat go much above 170 degrees. This is a terrible analogy, but the base should be thick like cough syrup.
- Creating the caramel shards requires some focus and attention. I would not do this while, lets say, your toddler has markers out and starts coloring on himself. The sugar can quickly burn, which consequently is what you want, but there’s a fine line between burnt caramel and gross. Towards the end of the cooking process, don’t look away.
- If you want to skip the caramel shards, you certainly can. This eggy caramel custard is delicious enough on its own. You could easily drizzle it with a salted caramel sauce or even stir in some sugar-free chocolate chunks instead. Obviously the result will not be a “creme brulee” taste.
Vanilla egg custard and caramelized sugar unite in this sugar-free and low-carb ice cream recipe.
Ice Cream Base
- 6 tbsp grass-fed salted butter
- 2 tbsp brown erythritol, Swerve
- 1/4 tsp caramel extract
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 cup granular erythritol, Swerve
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 cup almond milk, unsweetened
- 5 large egg yolks
Caramelized Sugar Shards
- 1/2 cup granular erythritol, Swerve
- 1/4 tsp sea salt, fine
Ice Cream Base
- In a medium sauce pan, melt butter on low heat and brown slightly. Add brown erythritol and cook until a caramel forms. Whisk constantly to avoid burning. Remove from heat and add extracts and sea salt. You should have a thin caramel sauce.
- Return to burner and heat on low. Add granular white erythritol and stir to dissolve completely. Add heavy cream and almond milk. Heat to warm.
- In a separate bowl, whisk yolks. Whisking constantly, slowly add a ladle full of the hot cream mixture into the yolks. Add at least two more ladles of cream. Then, whisk the egg mixture back into the pot with the remaining cream. Return pot to medium low heat and gentle cook until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (about 170 degrees).
- Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl and cool at room temperature. Mixture will thicken as it cools. Cover with cling wrap and chill at least 4 hours or overnight.
Caramelized Sugar Shards
- Heat erythritol in a medium sauce pan over medium-low heat. Whisk constantly until all sugar dissolves. Heat until a dark brown color is achieved. Remove from heat and add salt.
- Pour mixture onto an oiled baking tray or a silicon baking mat. Allow to cool and then break into a few large chunks for decoration and then the rest into bite-sized pieces.
Churning and Finishing
- When ready to churn, remove base and stir. Churn in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturers directions. Add 1/3 cup of the caramel shards into the base before serving/freezing. Stir to combine. Serve immediately for a soft ice cream or freeze for hard pack. Thaw at least 30 minutes before using.