My first job in High School was at Cold Stone Creamery. I would come home from work covered in sweet cream and smelling of waffle cones with free ice cream in hand. My parent’s freezer was always filled with “love it” sized portions of new flavor combinations. Even with five people, we couldn’t eat ice cream fast enough. The household favorite was a dark chocolate concoction: rich chocolate ice cream with brownie batter swirls and chocolate chips. To call it chocolate overload would be an understatement, but it would disappear the fastest, and for good reason. It was indulgent to the point of feeling shamelessly sinful.
Back then, ice cream was an everyday staple. Today, it remains my guilty pleasure. It’s my afternoon pick me up every once in awhile or the occasional night in with Netflix treat. At least, that was the case until I picked up the book Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream at Home while at the Food Book Fair in April. I read it cover to cover last month and have since made no fewer than 6 different types ice cream. It’s possible that my relationship with ice cream may now be borderline obsessive.
The recipe that follows was ice cream variety number five of six. And it was easily the most decadent.
The bitterness and roasted malt flavors found in dark beers compliment the nuances of the dark chocolate. High quality ingredients are key here as there aren’t a lot of components and each one will play off the other. Choose a higher gravity beer with a round palate and rich flavors such as a breakfast or bourbon aged stout. I had a bit of Green Flash Ristretto Cosmic Black Lager left over from a growler, which was perfect as it contains cold brew, lactose, candy sugar, and lots of dark malt. Likewise, an artisan chocolate that’s 60 to 70% cacao with lots of complexity will enhance the final product.
Expect a dramatic ice cream that’s almost fudge like in texture with just enough bitterness to cut through the full-bodied creaminess and decadence.
1 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate (60 to 70%), chopped
Ice Cream Base
2 cups whole milk
1 tbs. plus 1 tsp. cornstarch
1 1/2 ounces cream cheese
1/8 tsp. fine sea salt
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbs. light corn syrup
1/3 cup raw cacao nibs, chopped (optional)
Make chocolate syrup by combining sugar, cocoa powder, and beer in a small saucepan over medium heat; bring to a boil and maintain for 30 seconds while stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat and add chocolate; let stand for at least 5 minutes and then stir until smooth. Set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together 2 tbs. milk with cornstarch to form a slurry.
In a medium bowl, whisk together cream cheese, chocolate syrup, and salt until smooth.
Fill a large bowl with ice and water to prep for rapid chilling once ice cream base is ready; set aside.
Combine remaining milk, cream, sugar, and corn syrup in a 4-quart saucepan over medium high heat; bring to a boil and maintain for 4 minutes. Remove from heat and gradually whisk in cornstarch slurry. Bring mixture back to boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.
Add hot milk and sugar mixture to cream cheese in four separate additions, whisking after each addition, until well incorporated and smooth. Pour into a large Ziploc freezer bag, seal, and submerge in the prepared ice bath for 30 minutes, switching out ice as needed to keep cold.
Pour ice cream base into ice cream maker and follow manufacturer’s instructions. During the last 30 seconds, add chopped cacao nibs. Ice cream will be ready when thick and creamy.
Transfer ice cream to a large tupperware container and press a sheet of parchment paper directly to the surface to prevent freezer burn; seal with an airtight lid. Freeze for a minimum of 4 hours to set.