Salty Caramel: often-imitated, never-duplicated. Our forever best seller, it’s made exactly how we’ve always made it: by toasting sugar over an open flame then blending in the precise amount of cream and lots of salt.
Salty Caramel pays homage to traditional American caramel—all of which is salted. But Salty Caramel ice cream also has tangential roots in France, where caramel is made with and without salt.
Jeni began making Salty Caramel ice cream in Columbus in the mid ’90s, years before she opened her first Jeni’s scoop shop. Inspired by a cute French chef who told her, “In Brittany we make salty caramel” (rather than salted), Jeni upped the salt content and—in tribute to the chef’s sweet malapropism—called her famous creation Salty Caramel.
Because ice cream made with caramel flavoring tastes flat and chemical-y (think gas station lattes), we always make our caramel from scratch in a kettle over fire. No water is added to the sugar before putting the pan on the heat. Caramelizing sugar dry means it goes faster, but you have to watch it more closely and be ready with your cream. It’s a dangerous process—the sugar pops and spatters—and it requires precision and timing, so only a few people in our kitchen have mastered it.
The method requires time, labor, and know-how, which is why most ice cream makers don’t caramelize sugar by hand. And if they do, it’s a challenge to ensure consistency each time. To us—and everyone who continues to dig into the pints as fast as we can put them on the shelves—there’s just no better flavor in the world.