It seems ironic that the day I finally sit down to post my chocolate ice cream recipe is the first rainy day in a couple of weeks. Especially since I created it in Seattle, back in June when I was still on vacation, where we had nothing but beautiful sunny weather.
It was a chocolate-intensive day (and sandwich-intensive, too, I might add) that started with a tour of Theo Chocolate. While I admire their commitment to organic and fair trade production, I though the presentation got a little preachy on those topics, to the detriment of explaining, say, how ganache is made. Not for my benefit, mind you, I make the stuff for a living, but I doubt anyone on the tour with me that day left with any real understanding of the difference between the production of a bar of chocolate and the production of a chocolate confection. Still, it wasn’t a total wash. We got to taste several different chocolates, from single origin bars to novelty bars to the aforementioned ganaches. I couldn’t leave without picking up some of the Ghost chile chocolate and a box of single-malt scotch ganaches.
One of my missions while in the USA was to gather up some American artisan chocolate bars. I was looking in particular for Patric, which my former boss can’t praise highly enough, and Askinosie, which I was turned on to by David Lebovitz. Upon hitting the ground in San Francisco, I was on the lookout for chocolate shops. I found Bittersweet without much trouble, and they did carry a handful of chocolate bars. I walked out of there about $35 poorer and four chocolate bars richer, but I was a little disappointed that it was more of a café/coffeeshop than a true chocolate shop.
Fortunately, Pete, our host in Seattle, is a chocolate enthusiast. He had spotted Chocolopolis and wanted to check it out. Having a couple of chocolate-loving houseguests was the perfect excuse. So following the Theo tour (with a little lunch break) we headed to Chocolopolis.
And it was there that I found what I was looking for:
Stacks of chocolate bars from small-batch producers around the country, all arranged by the country of origin of the cacao beans. I walked into the shop and was immediately drawn in by the boxes of various single-origin cacao beans. (I think they were Domori, but I can’t for the life of me find them for sale anywhere on the internet.) I hadn’t seen such an array since the cacao nib tasting I participated in back in Dallas – an experience that left me jittery and a little nauseous, but that forever changed the way I taste and appreciate chocolate. Naturally, I start spouting off to whoever will listen (in this case, Nick and Pete) about the nib tasting and how cool it was to taste the beans next to the bars made from them. It was then that Lauren Adler, Chocolopolis’ Chief Chocophile, overheard me and wanted to know more. Where and when had this taken place? How did I get involved? What was I doing here? I explained that I’m a pastry chef, the nib tasting was organized by the illustrious Scott of DallasFood, and that I now live in Paris, but was visiting friends in Seattle. I told her that we had spent the morning at Theo, and that I had visited Bittersweet in San Francisco, and that I had found the Patric and Askinosie bars I had been seeking. She suggested I check out Rogue Chocolatier, whose Hispaniola and Rio Caribe bars have since become new favorites. I saw that she was selling Amadei‘s Chuao bar for two dollars less than Bittersweet, so I pounced on that. We were going on and on, delighted to have found a kindred spirit in chocolate geekdom, when someone asked if I would make some chocolate ice cream that night.
Despite my enthusiasm for the stuff, I didn’t really want to use my precious artisan chocolate in a frozen dessert. Luckily, Lauren had me covered. Since I’m a professional, she offered to sell me some of the shop’s own supply of Valrhona. I asked if she had any of the Caraïbe 66%, my favorite of their standard Grand Cru line. No dice, but she did have my second choice, the Manjari 64%, a very fruity and rich chocolate. So I bought half a pound and brought it back to Pete’s to take advantage of his ice cream maker-Kitchen Aid attachment. The resulting ice cream, made with local organic cream and mouthwatering premium chocolate was one of the smoothest ice creams I’ve ever made. But don’t take my word for it.
Pete’s grin (and the chocolate in his beard) pretty much say it all.
Premium Chocolate Ice Cream
The custard base for this ice cream is slightly less sweet than usual, the better to show off the flavor of premium chocolate. I recommend something in the 65-70% range: enough cacao content to give a full chocolate flavor, while still remaining accessible to most palates. Of course, if you are a major chocophile, go ahead and use the 85% – although the resulting ice cream may not have the same luscious, creamy texture.
2 cups / 475 ml heavy cream
1½ cups / 355 ml milk
½ cup / 100 g sugar
Pinch of sea salt
5 egg yolks
¼ cup / 50 g sugar
8 oz. / 225 g bittersweet chocolate, of the best available quality, chopped
- Combine the cream, milk, ½ cup sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat until it comes up to a simmer.
- Meanwhile, whisk the yolks with the ¼ cup sugar in a heatproof bowl. When the dairy starts simmering, temper in the beaten yolks and sugar. (Temper: pour some of the hot liquid into the eggs while whisking in order to heat them up gradually so they don’t curdle upon contact with the contents of the saucepan.) Transfer this back to the saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or heatproof rubber spatula, until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. If you have a thermometer, it should read between 175 and 185 F / 80 and 85 C.
- Stir in the chopped chocolate until it is evenly dissolved.
- Strain the cooked custard and chill thoroughly. Overnight is best, but I rarely have that kind of patience. If you’re in a hurry, you can chill it in the freezer, but keep an eye on it – you don’t want it to freeze before its time.
- Churn the chilled custard in an ice cream maker until it is the consistency of soft-serve. Remove the ice cream to a container and freeze until firm. Or eat it right away. You’ve earned it.
Makes about 1 quart.
Originally published on Croque-Camille.