August 19, 2010

Cravings and the need for placating them

Sometimes it's just too hot to turn the oven on and bake. The middle of the summer is one of those times, which is unfortunate, because there are so many recipes tempting me, all of those pies, tarts, and even cakes that make good use of summer fruits. I have a lot of making up to do. During the last few weeks the idea of baking hasn't had much appeal, mostly because the effort of actually making something coupled with preheating the oven turns the kitchen into an unpleasant, sweaty place to be. So instead of baking, I've just been eating those fruits -- juicy nectarines, plump blueberries, and all of the other berries and stone fruits that come with summer.

All of that is beside the point, though, because I have a recipe for you involving dark chocolate and the freezer. Yes people, we have dark chocolate ice cream. When you are in need of a chocolate fix in hot weather, make this ice cream. It's rich, it's deep, and intensely satisfying.

Sadly, my pictures do not do the stuff justice, but believe me when I say it's probably one of the best dark chocolate ice creams ever. Unassuming in appearance, looking like any other chocolate ice cream out there, the first spoonful surprises you with its deep cocoa flavor and thick texture. The mixture starts as a custard base, slowly cooked over the stove until reaching a pudding-like consistency. Once chilled, it thickens up quite a bit, becoming almost like a real pudding, which creates an ice cream both dense and smooth after being processed in the ice cream machine. It's so dense, even the melted remains in your bowl look like thick ribbons of creamy chocolate, which, now that I'm thinking of it, would have made for an interesting image. Oh well.

With eight ounces of bittersweet chocolate and about a cup of cocoa powder, you can't get away from the deep flavor, which is the best part about any chocolate dessert, if you ask me. So make this soon, before summer's over, because it's the best way to experience chocolate bliss when the weather's hot. Happy ice cream making.

Deep Dark Chocolate Ice Cream
Adapted from the Cuisinart manual's Recipe Booklet

2 ¼ cups whole milk
2 ¼ cups heavy cream
⅔ cup mild-flavored honey (or ¾ sugar)
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp Dutch process cocoa powder
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
8 oz good-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 tsp vanilla

In a medium saucepan, combine the whole milk and heavy cream over medium-low heat, bringing the mixture just to a simmer. Remove from heat. Combine the honey, cocoa, eggs, and egg yolks in a medium bowl. Using a hand mixer on low speed, beat until thickened like mayonnaise. Measure out one cup of the hot milk/cream mixture. With the mixer still on low speed, add to the cocoa mixture in a slow, steady stream, mixing until completely incorporated.

Stir the chopped chocolate into the saucepan with the hot milk/cream, whisking until smooth. Slowly stir the egg/cocoa mixture into the hot milk/cream. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and begins to resemble a chocolate pudding, 15 - 20 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and stir in vanilla. Cover with plastic wrap pressed directly on the surface of the chocolate mixture. Refrigerate until completely cooled.

Process according to your ice cream maker's directions (it took about 30 minutes in ours). Transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and freeze 2 to 4 hours.

Makes about 2 quarts.

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