Sunday, January 2, 2011

Salted Chocolate Ice Cream

Upon arriving at The House in Lake Havasu, I immediately noted a  new appliance on The Counter.  A Cuisinart ice cream machine.

hello, lover

I don't have an ice cream machine for several reasons. Among them include my ambivalence toward dessert and my husband's general intolerance toward dairy. When we crave ice cream, we head toward Scoops. I don't think I've ever seen a bigger smile on D's face than when he was halfway into a scoop of salty chocolate ice cream from the infamous little shop on Hyperion.

salted chocolate ice cream1
whisking yolks & sugar, scalding cream & cocoa, 
tempering egg mixture with hot chocolate cream (a tiny bit at a time)

With three days in the desert and not a lot to do (except cook, drink, stay up late together to argue about how to solve the world's problems, repeat), the Cuisinart was calling my name loud and clear.  I toyed with a few flavor choices.  Lake Havasu City is not a sophisticated place, and ethnically it's fairly homogeneous. Asian and Latin sections in the grocery store are very small and there's not really a health food grocery store in town (although there's a great independent little health food/vitamin store). So thoughts of lychee, passionfruit, Thai iced tea, and other exotic flavors were pretty much out of the running.  Twitter friend Chef Szu suggested:

 @ something with bacon.... ooooo... maple bacon ice cream with chunks of waffle.... hahaha

salted chocolate ice cream2
combining two liquids, slowly cooking mixture until thick enough to coat back of wooden spoon, 
cooling to room temperature

I seriously considered maple ice cream/bacon/waffle chunks. Then reconsidered when I considered my audience. If I was only going to make the one batch, let's go with a universally pleasing flavor. Salted chocolate it was. I followed this recipe from Chaos in the Kitchen with a high degree of fidelity.  When never having made something, especially something involving sweets and candy making, it's important to understand the chemistry before playing with the technique.  My changes are highlighted in brown.

adding to Cuisinart

Chocolate Ice Cream

makes 2 quarts, prep 2 min, cook 10 min, adapted from Chaos in the Kitchen
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 3 cups half and half
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2-4 tsp Himayan salt, finely ground
  1. In a large sauce pan combine cocoa and one cup of half and half.  Stir to combine then add rest of half and half and cream.
  2. Scald the cream mixture (heat it just until you see bubbles forming at the edges), remove from heat.
  3. In a mixing bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar to combine.
  4. Temper the egg yolks by slowly adding the hot cream, a few drops at a time, stirring constantly.  This is a slow process, don’t rush it or you will get eggy ice cream.
  5. Once you have whisked in about 1/3 cup of hot cream into egg mixture, add all of the egg back into the sauce pan.
  6. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thermometer reads 170°-175° or mixture is thick and coats the back of a wooden spoon.
  7. Pour custard into a container and allow to cool at room temperature. Stir in the vanilla and continue cooling. 
  8. Once room temperature, place covered into the fridge and chill several hours or overnight.
  9. After cooled, add salt to taste. Add 1/4 teaspoon at a time, folding thoroughly. Continue to add small amounts til mixture is salted to taste preference.
  10. Process in your ice cream maker according to the instructions.
  11. Freeze soft serve ice cream for several hours until hard.
The only step that gave me pause was #6.  I twittered that thickening the base without a meat or candy thermometer was like spelunking without a flashlight. I stirred and watched closely. At one crucial point, I thought my base was separating and started to freak out. My Host assured me if I simply took it off the heat quickly and continued to stir slowly as it cooled toward room temperature I would be ok. He was right.

After it cooled to room temp, into the fridge it went for a few hours. When cooled to fridge temp, I pulled it out and started adding the salt very slowly, very patiently.  One can always add more salt. One cannot take salt away.  After much adding, folding and tasting, C and I agreed I had achieved salty/chocolatey perfection. Into the Cuisinart it went.

salted chocolate ice cream
moving through stages of frozenness 

Honestly, it was delicious. I have never had better ice cream, not even at Scoops. Or maybe it was just as good as Scoops, or maybe it just tasted good because of the fun of the group cooking adventure. I know we all enjoyed it all weekend long and I am kind of craving a bowl right now. But just a small one.

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