The Land of Chocolate

25 08 2009

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.

writing the recipe - photo by Nick

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.

You can't make ice cream without cream

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.

Whisking the chocolate into the custard - photo by Nick

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.

Freshly churned chocolate ice cream

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.

Enjoying the so-called "iced cream"

Pete’s grin (and the chocolate in his beard) pretty much say it all.

Luscious Manjari ice cream

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

  1. Combine the cream, milk, ½ cup sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan.  Heat over medium heat until it comes up to a simmer.
  2. 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.
  3. Stir in the chopped chocolate until it is evenly dissolved.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.




11 responses

25 08 2009

I really need to buy an ice cream maker!

25 08 2009

when we head out to San Francisco would you like us to purchase any chocolate for you? Ice cream mmmmmmm

26 08 2009

I love it in the Land of Chocolate! Funny you mention Theo. I was online yesterday looking for cocoa nibs and found the Theo brand. The Beloved wants to make a chocolate porter, and I told him that nibs were likely the Way to Go.

We used to use Valrhona nibs @the restaurant, but now that I’m out of the kitchen, I don’t have access to the fun stuff. I defer to your expertise: the choices available to the general public on the Hinternet appear to be the Theo and Scharffenberger. Any preference?

And sign me up for several gallons of that ice cream, please:)

26 08 2009

justalittlepiece – It is possible to make ice cream without an ice cream maker, although I admit it is much easier and quicker with one! 🙂

Mom – Maybe… thanks for the offer!

pastrychef – I would go with the Theo. I’m afraid the quality over at Scharffenberger has taken a nosedive since their acquisition by Hershey’s a couple of years ago. At the aforementioned nib tasting, after tasting through a dozen (at least) single-origin beans, the Scharffenberger kind of tasted like dust. Chocolate porter sounds delicious – maybe some kind of exchange can be arranged…

31 08 2009

Thanks, Camille–we’ll go with the Theo:) I had heard that Scharffenberger is a bit iffy these days. It’s very sad; they had such a good thing going before they sold (out).

And if it’s not illegal to ship homebrew across the world, we will happily send you some. He and his brewing buddy have made two very successful coffee porters and are up for the challenge of a chocolate one. They want to do a batch of each and then combine the two for just one six-pack of coffee-chocolate porter. Fingers crossed that it’s wonderful!

1 09 2009

I’m sure it will be! I’ll look into the shipping question. Start thinking of what you might like from France…

27 08 2009

Great post! The ice cream looks fantastic! Look for DeVries next on your list of chocolate acquisitions, specifically Costa Rican 77%. Which percentage of Patric did you end up with? The 70% is my favorite, and now he has a nib bar, very good.

27 08 2009
hungry dog

What an interesting post and what a lovely blog! I live in SF but have never been to Bittersweet, I wil have to check it out. Your ice cream looks amazing.

28 08 2009

Rhonda – Oh, I already know and love DeVries, thanks in no small part to you. I didn’t see it for sale at any of the chocolate shops I visited this time around, but I did ask about it, so maybe next time… I got all three Patric bars: the 67%, 70%, and 75%, and I think I agree with you on th 70%. Nib bar sounds fantastic!

hungry dog – Thank you! Bittersweet has a reasonably good selection, though I can’t help but think that a food-centric city like SF has an even better chocolate shop somewhere.

29 09 2009

guess what I found when going through my freezer last night? That’s right ! the last of the Majari 64, which I samples and immediately ascertained that its still delicious. I do believe I’ll finish it off tonight.

30 09 2009

Morisseau – Nice.

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