Kicking off Milkshake Week with a bang, spiked and salted and deliciously drizzled with a boozy caramel sauce that’s utterly divine. Are you surprised that my first milkshake, on Monday morning no less, is wonderfully boozy? You shouldn’t be. With my penchant for boozy baking it was only a matter of time. (I’ll have you know that Friday’s milkshake is equally boozy, and Wednesday’s could certainly be adapted as such). Truly, boozy milkshakes are seriously under utilized.
And before I get bombarded with questions, yes, you can leave out the bourbon in the caramel and in the milkshake and the recipe will work just fine. You’ll end up with a perfectly delicious salted caramel milkshake, but really, where’s the fun in that?
The caramel sauce is similar to the one that graced the top of Taylor’s boozy birthday cake this past winter (although I used some regular, good quality bourbon here, I was fresh out of wedding-day whiskey). It’s quite possibly the world’s greatest caramel sauce, and I could seriously put it on everything.
My favorite part of this milkshake, second only to the booze, are the abstract caramel swirls that hug the sides of the glass like leading in a stained glass window. It took me a few tries to get the technique just right, and you may want to do a few practice glasses yourself. It’s all in the wrist, they say. I first tried a more disciplined spiral, holding the caramel squeeze bottle inside the glass and then rotating it as evenly as I could with one hand. But it turns out speed is the key to getting smooth, not wobbly, strokes of caramel, and that the more free-form method turned out to be the winner. I’d suggest chilling your glasses and slightly warming your caramel (not hot, but you want it to flow freely). Use a plastic squeeze bottle (which, incidentally, also makes drizzling the leftover caramel over ice cream a breeze). And also? Don’t overthink it. The more I tried to intentionally distribute the caramel, the slower I moved and the uglier my swirls looked. Pretend you’re the Jackson Pollock of caramel and just go for it.
Bourbon Salted Caramel Milkshakes
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon corn syrup
- pinch cream of tartar
- 1/4 cup water
- 2/3 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 tablespoons bourbon
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 16 ounces vanilla ice cream
- 1/3 cup bourbon caramel sauce, plus more for garnish
- 1/3 cup milk, more or less as needed
- 2 tablespoons bourbon
- Whipped cream, for serving (optional)
- To prepare caramel sauce, combine sugar, corn syrup, cream of tartar, and water in a medium saucepan. Gently stir over medium-high heat until sugar is dissolved, brushing down any stray sugar crystals on the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush. Bring to a boil and cook, without stirring, until sugar turns a light amber brown, swirling the pan as needed to ensure even coloring. This should take about 10 minutes. Watch it carefully, as the caramel can go from perfectly brown to burnt in a matter of seconds. Remove from heat and add cream and butter, whisking vigorously until smooth. Whisk in bourbon, vanilla, and sea salt. Let cool to room temperature, then transfer to a jar or storage container and refrigerate until ready to use. Caramel will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
- To prepare milkshakes, scoop ice cream into the canister of a blender (I find it easiest to put the canister right on the scale, zero it out, and then I can measure the precise amount of ice cream). Add caramel sauce, milk, and bourbon. Blend on medium-low speed until smooth. Add more milk as needed to acheive desired consistency.
- To serve, gently warm some of the remaining caramel sauce. If you have a plastic squeeze bottle that will work best. Using a quick wrist-flicking motion, drizzle the caramel in an abstract pattern on the inside of chilled glasses. Divide milkshake among glasses. Top with a dollop of whipped cream and more caramel, as desired.