Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Chocolate Ice Cream

I realise it may seem ridiculous that I have waited till the end of summer to try making ice cream, but really this is an intentional move as part of my greater agenda that ice cream has no season or weather, it can be made and eaten at any time. Until now the greatest impediment to this noble vision for me has been the lack of an ice cream maker in my kitchen (I still have no idea why I didn't just buy one). Anyway, about a month ago I stumbled upon this recipe on Cafe Fernando which resolved this gaping, ice-cream-maker-shaped hole in my life. 

I should clarify that this a denser and creamier ice cream than what you will be used to, which makes it unquestionably superior. It also melts very easily, so must be eaten as soon as served - which was not a problem based on multiple observations. However, if it does melt, you can put it right back in the freezer and regain the same product because it doesn't get icy when frozen (which is why you don't need an ice cream maker to make it).

Although not a difficult recipe, my attempts to make it were plagued with minor catastrophes like missing ingredients, cream having gone bad, and the forgetting of the pan on the stove to burn while trying to deal with the cream issue. There was a point of unbearable despair and then finally success! (I can't remember how many attempts later that was)

The crucial ingredient in this recipe is the cornstarch, as it acts as the thickening agent. If your ice cream ends up being too solid, either reduce the amount of cornstarch or cook it for a shorter period. The original recipe called for 8-10 minutes on medium-high heat, but 4-5 minutes on low-medium heat was enough for me.

1 can (400 grams) sweetened condensed milk
180 grams whole milk
175 grams heavy cream
170 grams bittersweet chocolate, chopped finely
25 grams cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder (or two tablespoons freshly-brewed espresso)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
A pinch of fine sea salt
12 grams cornstarch
2 tablespoons cold water

In a heavy-bottomed large pan, whisk sweetened condensed milk, whole milk and heavy cream until combined. Set the pan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.

Take off heat and add the finely-chopped chocolate, cocoa powder, instant espresso powder, vanilla extract and salt. Whisk (using an electric whisk) until the chocolate melts and the cocoa powder is completely dissolved.

Mix cornstarch and cold water in a bowl with a fork until completely dissolved, and add to the ice cream base. Whisk until combined.

Place the pan over low-medium heat and cook, whisking constantly, scraping the sides and the bottom of the pan to prevent burning, until thickened, for 4-5 minutes. Note that the consistency should still be very much liquid, if it gets thick like pudding you have waited too long.

Transfer to a heatproof bowl and set aside, uncovered, to cool for half an hour. Don't worry if a skin forms on top. When the bowl is cool enough to handle, cover with plastic wrap and chill thoroughly--preferably overnight--in the refrigerator.

Before transferring the chilled ice cream to the freezer, stir or whisk to dissolve the skin on top and scrape into a container. Cover with plastic, this time pressing the wrap against the ice cream to create an airtight seal; put the lid on (or cover with an additional layer of plastic wrap) and freeze until firm enough to scoop.

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