I’m a purist when it comes to ice cream; not a fan of those what-the-hell flavors that pose as ice cream but are actually a totally different category of dessert – pumpkin pie, cotton candy and wedding cake come to mind.
I avoid distracting mix-ins like swirling candy rainbows, chunks of cake, cookies or even chocolate chips. That stuff just gets in the way.
When I indulge in ice cream, I want to be focused on the very essence of it: cream, air and sugar. I want smooth, super-luscious cream floating in my mouth; sweet, butterfatty custard in easy to understand flavors like vanilla, strawberry or chocolate.
Making homemade ice cream isn’t difficult, but it does involve some patience and maybe a tiny bit of bravery during certain delicate steps such as making the custard base on the stovetop (scrambled eggs are not fun in ice cream, and neither is throwing them out and starting all over).
The demand and production of ultra-premium “artisanal” ice cream is growing. If you live or visit a city that has small shops like Jeni’s in Columbus, Ohio or Van Leeuwen in New York City, well lucky you. Bypass the recipe below and go out on the town!
But if you have some time, an inexpensive electric ice cream maker and the desire for indulgence, you can make this rich, not-too-sweet ice cream in your kitchen. The texture is very much like the inside of a chocolate truffle, only much colder…
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
8 egg yolks
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1/3 cup cocoa powder, plus more for serving
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set it over a saucepan of simmering water. Let the chocolate melt, stirring until smooth. Set aside to cool.
- Beat the egg yolks and sugar in an electric mixer until thickened and pale, about 5 minutes on medium-high speed.
- Meanwhile, combine the cream, milk, cocoa and salt in a saucepan. Bring the mixture just to a boil - when little bubbles form around the edges of the pan, you're done. Transfer to a container with a pouring spout (like a Pyrex liquid measure) and slowly drizzle into the egg mixture on low speed.
- Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook for 5 - 7 minutes over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until thickened enough that the whisk leaves a trail in the pan. If you want to be sure, the temperature should read 175 degrees on an instant thermometer.
- Whisk the melted chocolate into the custard until completely smooth. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until very cold - at least 6 hours or overnight.
- Scrape the mixture into an ice cream maker (it will be thick) and churn according to directions. You can serve right away, or transfer to a container to freeze for a few more hours. Scoop truffle-sized servings and dust with cocoa powder.