Monday, 5 July 2010

Weapon of mass distraction...


And it came to pass that after three and forty years in the wilderness I did buy an Ice cream maker – and saw that it was good. When word spread of my ability to turn ‘that which wasn’t ice cream’ into ‘ice cream’ the great unwashed masses were humbled and did beseech me to render unto them some triple-choc. It was decided by the counsel of elders that I would be required to feed thousands (okay a handful of relatives, but crucially that included at least two voracious nieces). A feast was expected and tribute was required to be paid, a triple-choc-tastic tribute.

The following is an amalgamation/composite/collage of about 8 different recipes I came across while Googling ‘chocolate ice cream’. No one recipe seemed quite right, either being too big or too small, in American cup measurements (I have some measuring cups but like the reassurance of precise measurements in grams.) or using odd ingredients that I had never heard of like ‘half and half’ or ‘Dutch process cocoa’. In the end the only cocoa I could find in this country that expressly stated that it was ‘Dutched’ was Green & Blacks organic cocoa powder. As it was my birthday I decided to splash out and ordered a selection of chocolate goodies from their website – mainly in the interests of maintaining recipe integrity you understand, but also because I’d never tried posh high % cocoa stuff and was curious. I have long suspected that my tastes were pretty unsophisticated and that I wouldn’t be able to handle ‘proper chocolate’. I was wrong, its brilliant and that means I am clever and sophisticated.

I had to order it online because it is impossible to buy stuff like that in shops around here. The supermarket gods have decreed that those of us who live in the ‘forbidden zone’, do not deserve nice things and have to be satisfied with crates of Kestrel Lager and microwave pies. Anyone who asks for mange-tout is taken out back by the bins to be torn apart by feral children and pit bulls. This is also why I am growing my own mange-tout this year.

A Triple Choc Ice Cream recipe (or a dastardly plot to take over the world – you decide)

Ingredients:
5 egg yolks
600ml cream
300ml whole milk
170g chocolate
50g cocoa powder
180g sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
Vanilla pod
2 tbsp sugar + 2tbsp water

This made enough to fill a 1 litre tub almost to the brim (I was expecting it to be more, but no matter how much I pour into the machine only about 1 litre ever seems to come out the other end). Obviously you can make less just keep the proportions relative.

Method:

Warm half of the cream (300ml) with the cocoa powder in a medium saucepan, whisking to thoroughly blend the cocoa.

Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer at a very low boil for 30 seconds, whisking constantly.

Remove from the heat and add the 170g of chocolate, stirring until smooth. I used Green & Blacks 72% Cook’s Chocolate, but then I have apparently just become a chocolate snob – I‘m sure any other dark chocolate will be equally as good. The nice thing about this stuff though is that each square is exactly 5g so you don’t need to mess about weighing things as long as you can count.

Next, stir in the remaining 300ml cream. At this point it looks like the most fantastic thing you’ve ever seen and it’s virtually impossible not to plunge your head straight into the bowl and woof down the lot. However you must resist this temptation and instead pour the mixture into a large bowl, scraping the saucepan as thoroughly as possible. I recently bought a fantastic silicone spatula which is absolutely brilliant at getting every last drop of stuff out of bowls etc, the downside of this is there is never even a speck of residue left and so no excuse to lick the bowl. You’ll also need to put a sieve on top of the bowl in readiness for the next stage.

In the still slightly chocolaty saucepan warm the milk, ½ the sugar (90g), vanilla pod (if you have one) and pinch of salt.

In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolk and the other half of the sugar (90g).

Slowly pour the warm milk into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks and milk back into the saucepan. Stir the mixture constantly over the medium heat (this is where the heatproof silicone spatula is ideal), scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula or back of a wooden spoon. Remove from the heat before the custard curdles (this is the second time I’ve messed that up – just can’t get the hang of it). Pour the custard through the sieve and stir it into the chocolate mixture until smooth. Rescue your vanilla pod to re-use another day. If you haven’t got a vanilla pod then you can add a few drops of vanilla essence/extract at this point.

Several of the recipes I found told me to do the following step, but I am not sure if it really worked for me or if the result made any difference to the finished product. However I’ve included it here if you want to give it a try – it didn’t seem to do any harm. Put 2 tablespoons of sugar in a small saucepan with 2 teaspoons of water, turn the heat to high, and melt the sugar until it is dark brown. (I used castor sugar and it didn’t go brown so ended up chucking in some dark Muscovado sugar as well.) Once brown add the sugar to the chocolate mixture, mixing it in thoroughly with a whisk. Mine seemed to crystallise into a solid lump almost immediately and despite the reassurance of the recipes that had said ‘not to worry, any crystallised sugar will melt into the chocolate’ I could still hear and feel chunks of it clunking around the bowl. I think these were either dissolved during chilling or were broken up in the ice cream maker as they were not evident in the end product. If only I’d had the foresight to issue a ‘product recall’ I could have had the whole lot to myself. Doh!

Stir the whole thing until cool over an ice bath or bowl of cold water if like me you haven't the patience to try and get hundreds of ice cubes out of those stupid little rubber trays. Cover with clingfilm that is pushed down onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming then chill thoroughly in the fridge (anything from a couple of hours to overnight). Once chilled freeze it in your ice cream maker according to manufacturers instructions. Add chocolate chips to the machine 5 minutes before the end. I used about 8 squares of the Green & Blacks Cook’s Chocolate, roughly chopped. I was worried that this would leave bitter little bombs of unsweetened chocolate that would detract or adulterate the flavour. However, I needn’t have worried as they didn’t affect the overall sweetness and were only noticeable in terms of adding a little bite to the texture it was definitely worth including them. The mix is pretty soft when it comes out of the machine so needs decanting into a suitable container and freezing for at least two hours. Because there are no additives to make it ‘soft scoop straight from frozen’, you’ll need to plan ahead and put it into the fridge for about an hour before you want to serve it. I left mine for about 1 ½ hours and it was still pretty resistant to being scooped in my flashy retro mechanical scoop thing, so you may find you need to give it a bit more time depending on how cold your fridge is

I should make clear that I am not a massive chocolate ice cream fan but this really did taste fantastic. It reminded me of the velvety smooth hot chocolate I used to order in the CAFÈ DE L'ÒPERA in Barcelona – highly recommended if you ever find yourself in Barca btw.

In the end and after all that work, I only managed to eat one scoop before the lot was set upon by the ravenous horde (did I mention it was my birthday?). Judging by the fact that every female in the room immediately shut up and went all swoony I suspect you could take over the world with a truck load of
this stuff. I may just have come up with a rather cunning plan…mwahahahahah!

11 comments:

  1. I started out with a Kenwood ice cream maker, one that needed the bowl to go in the freezer for 24 hours before use. After three months I binned it and invested in the Cuisineart unit with the integral freezer.

    They are, without doubt, the stuff of miracles. My rum and raisin seems to be everyones' favourite. I usually make two tubss, one of which gets something like "Pigeons Feet" written on it and it gets hidden at the back of the freezer.

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  2. I really couldn't justify the expense of the big cuisinart so had to go with the junior version. Leaving the bowl in the freezer overnight is a bit of a pain but its the only thing currently stopping me from turning the entire contents of my house into ice cream. Rum and raisin is definately on my list but the list is growing...

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  3. Awe - who got sucked in to the magic of ice cream then lol

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  4. You may not have been able to find dutched cocoa because it is sometimes packaged as "cocoa processed with alkalai" they mean the same thing.

    Half-and-half is like partially skimmed heavy cream. Where heavy(or whipping) cream will have around 35% milk fat, H&H will usually be less than 20%, around 12.5 to 15% most often.

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  5. Fun post! Usually I just surf food blogs for the pretty pictures and the recipes, but this was worth reading. If you move to Canada we should hang out.

    I've been trying to get my friend to make this bourbon and cigar flavoured ice cream, but she refuses:
    http://the-dogs-breakfast.com/2010/02/07/adventures-in-ice-cream/

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  6. I didn't realise we lived so close to each other{{g}}, we too are in a forbidden zone . . . decent olive oil, good coffee beans and aluminium-free deodorant? Yep, I am definitely an incomer and should be taken out and whipped soundly!

    You can, however, keep your ice cream. I suspect I am the only girly who is completely immune to it, although reading your descriptions did fleetingly make me wish I liked the stuff.

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  7. Very cleverly written.

    Lovely photo, too!

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  8. Greg - thanks for the clarification, all the milk and cream I've had in the last 15 years has been semi skimmed or fake so I was not really familiar with the fat content of the real thing any more. Seems to me that Jersey Gold Top would be a good sub for half and half.

    Rogo - cheers mate, if I eat any more of this stuff we'll be able to hang out without me having to leave the country. Thanks for the link, the thought of the bourbon+cigar and pine nut+olive oil blew my mind. Going to have to rethink potential ice cream flavours now that I realise the goalposts just moved...

    Bilbo, I thought Cumbria was the civilised part of the North, its got to be better than this side surely?

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  9. Blogger is being stupid this morning and won't publish the comment you kindly left at my blog.

    I have manually inserted it (and replied!)

    (word ver. is shockoar . . . )

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  10. Thanks Kaitlin and Bilbo, something very odd happening with Blogger today with comments failing to appear then 3 versions turning up at once like buses.

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