Roasted Fig & Brown Butter Caramel Ice Cream

Around here, there's always that state of limbo as the season changes from Summer to Fall. Labor Day weekend has come and gone. All of the kids are back in school. Yet, it's still 90-100 degrees outside, not a single cloud in sight, and my car can still turn into an oven if left under the sun for a mere few minutes...We're all stuck, waiting around, "So, Summer's over...when's Autumn supposed to get here exactly?"

That's where this recipe comes in handy. For the "Fall" days (sarcastic air quotes, do 'em with me now) that are still too warm to enjoy things like pumpkin spice lattes while wrapped in your favorite scarf...You can have Roasted Fig & Brown Butter Caramel Ice Cream!

Last weekend, the family and I spent some quality time at the lake, and this trip served as part of the inspiration for this recipe. Everyone was out on their boats or jet skis, and tons of beach-goers brought out their kayaks and paddleboards too! Music blaring, charcoal grilling, you name it...The perfect weekend atmosphere for a day at the lake!

My brother-in-law put up the canopy, my sister and I spread out a blanket (I love the JJ Cole! Sold at Target or on Amazon!), and the kids claimed their spots with their very own folding chairs!

For lunch and snacks, we brought chips, plenty of steamed corn (the mark of a Caparas family get-together), and sandwiches. Lake trips are never complete without sandwiches! Little Jacquelyn even had her own stash of chicharon. Because...what are cup holders for, right?

The best part of our lake day, though, was the ice cream boat. Yes. Ice cream. Boat. It even played the classic tune as it cruised around the lake. As soon as I saw it coming to our shore, I ran straight to my wallet. (Shut up and take my money!)

The boat, appropriately named "Big Chill Ice Cream Float", sells all of the standard ice cream bars and popsicles, but Big Chill also has sandwiches, hot dogs, and cold drinks. It really is a floating snack bar.

But my favorite? Bomb pop, always and forever! Never underestimate the power of cherry, lime, & blue raspberry. It can make you feel like a kid all over again...flashbacks to Summer afternoons spent laid out on the grass, a sticky sweet popsicle in hand!

I had that relaxing day at the lake (and stuffing our faces with ice cream) still on the brain while I was walking around the farmers market a couple of days later. A warm sunny morning, of course. Baskets of figs could be found at every other farm stand, so I decided to try and turn them into an ice cream! I bought some black missions, and when I got home, I picked a few green figs from our tree to add to the mix.

Figs are a perfect late-summer, early-Fall treat. They can be used in salads, but also pair beautifully with wonderful homey things like warm spices, rich salty cheeses, and port wine. The ripe fruit is a deep crimson red and honey-sweet. 

Roasting the figs only enhances their flavor. (Plus, roasting something in the oven kinda gets me in the mood for Fall baking!)

With a drizzling of balsamic vinegar, the figs caramelize and become syrupy. Those juices are sweet, but there's a sharp, savory tartness from the vinegar to balance all of the flavors. The colors are also gorgeous for a dessert...purple, bright green, and shades of fuschia!

While the figs were cooling, I churned a batch of Brown Butter Caramel Ice Cream.

It started by simply melting half of a stick of butter in a skillet.

I continued to cook the butter over medium heat until it began to foam and bubble, whisking continuously.

The butter changes from a pale gold to light amber, with browned flecks forming in the pan. Once the butter had a nice toasty aroma, I transferred the brown butter to a small bowl to stop the cooking.

I added this brown butter to my caramel, then turned this sweet and nutty mixture into an ice cream base by adding heavy cream, egg yolks, and whole milk. (Much like my recipe for Hawaiian Sea Salt Caramel Ice Cream!)

After churning the ice cream, I folded in the roasted figs. The bits of fruit created vibrant swirls, just like strawberry or raspberry.

Finally, I transferred the still-soft ice cream to an air-tight container, so that it could freeze and firm up.

The ice cream is velvety smooth, with butterscotch notes from the caramel and a deep nutty richness from the brown butter, and the balsamic-roasted figs bring a pop of salt and tang. Altogether, they make one decadent September dessert! A Summery treat with an Autumn twist! :)

Roasted Fig & Brown Butter Caramel Ice Cream (makes 1 pint)

Print Recipe
4 tbsp Unsalted Butter
3/4 cup + 1/2 tbsp White Granulated Sugar, divided
1/8 tsp Fine Sea Salt
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
1/2 cup + 1/2 cup Whole Milk, divided
3 large Egg Yolks
8-10 Ripe Figs, cleaned and quartered
1 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
  1. In a heavy-bottom skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. The butter will foam and begin to bubble, so whisk continuously. After 2-3 minutes, the butter will change from a golden color to a light amber (browned flecks will appear). Remove the pan from the heat and immediately transfer the brown butter to a bowl or ramekin to cool slightly.
  2. In a small saucepan, melt the 3/4 cup of sugar. Once all of the sugar is melted and the caramel is an amber color, whisk in the brown butter and sea salt. Pour in the heavy cream. The caramel will bubble, but continue to whisk until the mixture is smooth again. Pour in a 1/2 cup of milk. Heat the mixture until steaming, but not bubbling.
  3. Lightly beat the egg yolks in a separate bowl. Then, slowly pour the caramel into the egg yolks, whisking continuously to avoid scrambling the eggs. Next, return the caramel-egg mixture to the saucepan. Gently cook over low heat, until the custard is thick enough to coat a spoon. Stir constantly.
  4. Strain the custard into a bowl, then whisk in the remaining 1/2 cup of milk. Place the bowl over an ice bath to chill for at least one hour. 
  5. While the ice cream base is chilling, roast the figs. Combine the quartered figs, remaining sugar, and balsamic vinegar in a small mixing bowl. Set aside to marinate for a few minutes. Then, place the balsamic figs on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and bake at 425 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, and allow the figs to cool.
  6. When the ice cream base is ready, churn in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. Fold in the roasted figs. Transfer the ice cream to an air-tight container to freeze and firm up, at least a couple of hours. 
  7. Scoop, serve, and enjoy!