Believe it or not, until recently, I had never made a chocolate ice cream. I think I was a little scared. Adding chocolate to the ice cream base, an ingredient with its own sugar and fat, made me think it would be more difficult to achieve a balanced taste and texture. Turns out it just took a little research. The fat in the chocolate means adding less fat elsewhere; combining both cocoa powder and solid chocolate helps balance out the flavor. Easy.
I am often intrigued by combinations of sweet and savory flavors. If you follow my blog, you have already read about my soft spot for the combination of chocolate and coffee and how the flavors compliment each other. But there are several other flavors and foods that can be paired with chocolate and bring out its complexity - wine, fruit, bread, and spices (to name a few).
I went with spice this time. I have tried spicy chocolate ice cream before but was disappointed with the forward spicy pepper and reduced emphasis on the chocolate. In my version, I decided to add other spices such as cinnamon and star anise to enhance to the flavor complexity and allow me to be lighter on the heat. I hope you enjoy my first attempt at a chocolate ice cream.
Spicy Chocolate Ice Cream
Adapted from recipe by David Lebovitz, Perfect Scoop
To achieve a rich, chocolately taste, use good quality chocolate and cocoa powder. I used Dagoba cocoa powder and Scharffen Berger bittersweet chocolate (70% cacao).
2 1/4 cup (560 ml) heavy cream
6 Tbsp (50 g) cocoa powder
150 grams brown sugar
3 star snise pods
3 ounces (85 g) chocolate, chopped
1 1/4 cup (310 ml) whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (see note)
2 Tablespoon brandy
Combine heavy cream, cocoa, brown sugar, and star anise in a medium saucepan. Over medium heat, whisk frequently until ingredients are combined and the mixture reaches a rolling boil. Remove from heat and add chocolate; whisk until chocolate is completely melted. Stir in whole milk, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, pepper, and brandy. Remove star anise pods. Use an immersion blender to blend ice cream base until smooth (or regular blender will do the job, just more mess).
Chill the mixture thoroughly (at least 4 hours or overnight). Once chilled, pour into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Place plastic or parchment over ice cream (to prevent ice crystals) and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.
Note: You may adjust the amount of pepper to suite your taste. I suggest adding a quarter teaspoon at time, whisking, and then tasting. Be forewarned, the pepper heat is initially masked by the warm cream so be conservative - the spice will build as it cools.