Sunday, July 25, 2010

Very Chocolate Ice Cream

I’m not really one to be overly demonstrative with my personal exuberance, but I definitely scream, at least inwardly, for ice cream. Especially for this ultra-rich, deep-dark chocolate ice cream I made recently. It’s one of Harry’s favorites, and doesn’t last long in our freezer. It’s so rich and so dark and so chocolaty that it might just make you see through time…Enter at your own risk!

I try to keep a simple rule when it comes to sweets and treats. If I’m going to eat it, I should go through the trouble of making it myself. No picking up quick and dirty sugar and fat bombs in check-out displays or convenience stores (although fun-size candy bars usually defeat me in October). When I got an ice cream maker with a freezable canister many years ago, I could extend my snack guidelines to include ice cream. If you’re thinking of adopting this as a lifestyle choice, just let me put forth one caveat: If you like to cook and bake as much as I do, or you learn that with just a little work and a little waiting, you can make chocolate ice cream, this is not an effective weight-loss tool.

Not long after acquiring an ice cream maker, I got my hands on Ben and Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book. This book was the mother lode of tasty recipes, even for a beginner. The sweet cream base recipe I use is even slightly simplified over other gourmet ice cream and frozen custard recipes in that it calls for whole eggs instead of egg yolks. The steps of separating eggs and discarding or finding another use for the egg whites are eliminated. While most other cookbooks and articles that I’ve read insist on super-rich gourmet ice creams with lots of egg yolks, I figured that if whole eggs are good enough for Ben and Jerry, they’re good enough for me.

Apparently, this book was published before all the panic about the safety of raw eggs, because the bases for the ice creams are not cooked. If you don’t have concerns about salmonella, or have a well-trusted source of eggs, you could make an uncooked custard base. I, however, adapted the recipes for a cooked custard, and I think the results are thicker and creamier. The only problem is that gratification is further delayed by having to wait for the hot custard to cool and chill before it can be frozen into ice cream.

Even thought the richness of egg yolks is countered a bit by their accompanying whites, this is by no means a low-calorie or low-fat way to make ice cream. There’s plenty of sugar, whole milk, heavy cream and, of course, chocolate, both in the form of unsweetened cocoa powder and unsweetened baking chocolate. A bit of good vanilla extract brings up the flavor even more. This is a decadent dessert, no doubt about it, but I really don’t recommend trying to lighten it up in some way. It could only lead to disappointment, perhaps even grief.

I find that some of the chocolate solids don’t quite dissolve smoothly into the custard base in my adapted recipe, but teeny-tiny bits of chocolate in my intensely chocolate ice cream don’t bother me one bit. In fact, with all the other messes I make in the kitchen, a slightly less than perfect-looking scoop of ice cream is the least of my problems.

Rich Chocolate Ice Cream
Adapted from Ben and Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book.

2 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 ½ cup whole milk
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup heavy cream (whipping cream)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. In a medium-sized bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk. Slowly add the sugar and whisk until the mixture is pale and thick.

2. Whisk in the whole milk. Pour into a medium-sized sauce pan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently until a thermometer inserted in the hot custard reads 165 F.

3. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cocoa powder. Add the chocolate and continue stirring until the chocolate melts completely. If the mixture becomes too cool to melt the chocolate, place the pan back on low heat and continue to stir just until the chocolate melts.

4. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Whisk in the heavy cream and vanilla extract. Cover the bowl and chill the mixture until it is very cold, at least 2 hours, overnight is even better.

5. Transfer the chilled mixture to the freezing canister of an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer soft ice cream to a freezer-safe container and freeze a few more hours or until it is of desired consistency. You can even eat it right out of the canister if you like soft-serve style ice cream.

Makes about 1 quart.

One year ago: Lemon Herb Potato Salad

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