When I was a kid, one of the high points of the summer came at the end of Revival Week, when seven days of hellfire and brimstone led to one night of vanilla, strawberry and banana at the church’s annual Ice Cream Supper. Every family would bring at least one flavor, lining up canister after canister on the banquet tables pushed together in the Fellowship Hall. No infusions, no reductions, no lychees. Just homemade ice cream in exotic flavors like “peach” and “Oreo.”
With one exception.
My best friend’s dad would spend weeks planning, executing and concealing a gross-out flavor. Something that looked like vanilla but tasted like garlic or onion. Punishment for kids who fell prey to the inevitable ice cream-induced sugar high and started shoveling it in indiscriminately.
He was good.
I can’t imagine ending the summer without a batch of homemade ice cream, and I had all of these new ideas, thanks to the Best Lick! Ice Cream Contest entries that pop up every morning in my Google Reader. Flavors like Pink Lemonade, Coconut Peach, and Peach Goat Cheese Ice Cream with Salted, Roasted Pistachios and a Balsamic Bay Leaf Reduction.
I asked Jeff what flavor he wanted.
My pet peeve about most chocolate ice creams is that if you close your eyes, you can’t guess the flavor. That is not a problem with John Scharffenberger’s recipe for Dark Chocolate Ice Cream. You start with semisweet chocolate, add unsweetened cocoa powder (I went with Scharffen-Berger), and stir in a final unexpected ingredient: caramel. It’s not chocolate ice cream with a caramel swirl, ribbon or ripple. It’s chocolate with a caramel undertone. When you close your eyes and take a bite, you KNOW this isn’t vanilla or garlic or lychee: it’s undeniably, unapologetically chocolate.
Can I get an amen?
Dark Chocolate Ice Cream
Adapted from John Scharffenberger and Robert Steinberg’s “Essence of Chocolate”
Makes about 2 cups
- 3 1/2 ounces 62% semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 4 large egg yolks
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 teaspoons water
- Place the chocolate in a large bowl. Set a fine-mesh strainer over the bowl, and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the yolks and 3/4 cup of the sugar until slightly paler in color.
- Add the cocoa and whisk until a paste forms.
- In a medium saucepan, bring the milk to a boil over medium heat. Whisking constantly, slowly pour the milk into the cocoa mixture, and whisk until smooth.
- Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon, about 3 minutes.
- Strain the hot mixture onto the chocolate. Stir until the chocolate is completely melted.
- Place the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and the water in a small saucepan, and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Continue to cook, without stirring, until the caramel is dark brown, swirling the pan occasionally. Remove the pan from the heat. Immediately pour the caramel into the chocolate mixture, whisking constantly. If any caramel solidifies, strain the mixture.
- Let cool, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for several hours, or overnight.
- Place the ice cream base in an ice cream maker, and freeze following the manufacturer’s instructions. For a firmer texture, transfer to a covered container and freeze for at least 2 hours before serving.