9.10.13 Deep, Dark & Delicious (& a Chocolate Giveaway!)

Choc ice cream 790 xxx
photos by gluttonforlife
Because summer is not over yet. Because ice cream is an essential luxury. Because nothing beats homemade. Because when you go to the heart of darkness, you need a reason to turn back. There is something about the cold, slippery, creamy sweetness of ice cream that triggers a very primal lust—one that must be satisfied every now and then.

I confess to having made frozen treats more than a few times this summer. I blame Jeni, the ice cream temptress whose book, Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams At Home, lays bare the art of eggless ice cream. I made her backyard mint (with mint from the garden) and goat cheese with roasted sour cherries for ice cream sandwiches at our July barbecue; her eye-opening black coffee; her inspired sweet corn with blackberries; and I added fresh white peach puree to her classic vanilla bean for a summer favorite. I could not resist tinkering with her Darkest Chocolate Ice Cream in the World. By adding my own spin to the decadent blend of cocoa powder, bittersweet chocolate and brewed coffee, I wound up with something  I just have to share with you. It's sinful, in the best possible way.
Cinnamon 790 xxx
barking up the right tree
With a tip of the hat to my Mexican roots, I steeped a long curled stick of cinnamon in the ice cream base. Cinnamomum verum is actually a tropical evergreen native to Southeast Asia and is often labeled as Ceylon cinnamon. It curls into pale brown spirals that have a soft texture easy to grate or break up. It has a woodier aroma and a sweet, warm almost citrusy flavor that is less potent and spicy than cassia, the reddish-brown cinnamon we use more often. I like to buy my cinnamon in whole sticks and grind it in my spice grinder if I need the powder. 
Cacao nibs 790 xxx
crunch time
I also added some cacao nibs to enhance the chocolate's dark earthiness. These crisp nuggets add a pleasing crunch that is the perfect contrast to the ice cream's rich density. And, in another burst of inspiration, I stirred in a bit of cayenne. This imbues the final result with a subtle, slow burn at the back of the throat, an interesting effect given that you are eating something quite cold. To underscore the whole Mexican chocolate vibe, try garnishing your scoops with a few toasted almonds.

Part of the reason that Jeni's ice creams are so smooth is that she really minimizes all possibilities for the formation of ice crystals. The milk and cream get boiled to remove water, and then cornstarch is added to absorb any additional water that might be lingering in the mixture. The addition of just a small quantity of corn or tapioca syrup and a few tablespoons of cream cheese ensure that satin texture.
Chocolates 790 xxx
magic box
Want a more instant fix for your chocolate cravings? The delightful people at Sucré in New Orleans (you may have read about their gorgeous macarons here, or perhaps you've heard of their famous king cake) are offering this gorgeous Dark Chocolate Lovers Collection to one very lucky reader.

For your chance to win 15 pieces of divine dark deliciousness from Sucré, just leave a comment by midnight on Sunday telling me about your favorite way to eat chocolate. I'll choose someone at random and announce the winner next week. Until then, consider making the ice cream.
 

Dark Chocolate Ice Cream

from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home
make 1 generous quart
  • — 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • — 1/2 cup brewed coffee
  • — 1/2 cup sugar
  • — 1 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate (55%-70% cacao), finely chopped
  • — 2 cups whole milk
  • — 4 teaspoons cornstarch, or tapioca starch
  • — 3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • — 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • — 1 cup heavy cream
  • — 1/2 cup sugar
  • — 2 tablespoons light corn syrup, or tapioca syrup
  • — 1 3-4" cinnamon stick
  • — 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
  • — 2 tablespoons cacao nibs

Combine the cocoa, coffee and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar, and boil for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat, add the chocolate and let stand for 5 minutes. Stir the syrup until smooth and set aside.

Mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a slurry.

Whisk the cream cheese, warm chocolate syrup and salt together in a medium bowl until smooth.

Fill a large bowl with ice and cold water.

Combine the remaining milk, the cream, sugar, corn syrup, cinnamon stick and cayenne in a 4-quart saucepan and bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat. Boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Bring the mixture back to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring with a heatproof spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.

Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese mixture until very smooth. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon Ziploc freezer bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as needed, until cold, about 30 minutes.

Remove cinnamon stick before pouring the ice cream base into the frozen canister. Spin until thick and creamy. Just before the ice cream is done, tip in the cacao nibs so they will get stirred through.

Pack the ice cream into a storage container, press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.

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51 Comments

I'm salivating as I read this. Everything about it sounds so yummy! Must try this.
Sanje Lama on September 10, 2013 at 2:56 pm — Reply
Sanje, what's your favorite way to eat chocolate - besides this?!
laura on September 10, 2013 at 2:58 pm — Reply
Making ice cream right now actually (pause to churn), but in this case I'm making it with fresh peaches (while we have them so ripe & sweet). As for chocolate, that would be my better half's serious craving and pleasure food. Her favorite way appears to be just one small piece (fingernail size) at a time, making it last on the tongue for as long as possible. Of course, it has to be dark chocolate. I made the mistake ONLY once of giving her milk (blah) chocolate, and that was more than 25 years ago...
Jack Barnett on September 10, 2013 at 3:43 pm — Reply
I added a little nutmeg to my fresh peach ice cream and it was pretty delicious. And I actually adore milk chocolate, even though no true connoisseur would approve.
laura on September 10, 2013 at 3:51 pm — Reply
i am crazy for any chocolate peanut butter combo. i just love a good chocolate ice cream with a good peanut butter stirred in, and it gets kind of frozen. my mouth is watering.
trix on September 10, 2013 at 4:23 pm — Reply
Oh my. I've never tried that. Sounds dreamy!
laura on September 10, 2013 at 4:32 pm — Reply
Chocolate covered grahams....sweet almost spicy crunch with dark chocolate....divine! or Barkeater dark chocolate with sea salt...big flakes of salt to wake up your chocolate!
Diane on September 10, 2013 at 4:27 pm — Reply
Yes, yes, yes. Did you ever try this recipe? http://gluttonforlife.com/2013/02/14/whip_it_good You will be amazed!
laura on September 10, 2013 at 4:33 pm — Reply
I love shaving delicious dark chocolate over air popped popcorn. Two of my favorite things blissfully together!
Angelica on September 10, 2013 at 6:49 pm — Reply
That is inspired! If olive oil and sea salt were involved, I would be even happier...
laura on September 10, 2013 at 8:49 pm — Reply
Delicious photos! My favorite way to eat chocolate is to melt dark chocolate and dip Jeff's homemade caramels in it. Thanks to your recipe we have made this a holiday tradition (both dipped and plain) going on 3 years. Our neighbors thank you as well! PS: I like to add ceylon cinnamon to the chocolate as well.
Suzinn Weiss on September 10, 2013 at 7:41 pm — Reply
Get out! I was JUST thinking about making a cinnamon caramel. Love that our traditions are intertwined!
laura on September 10, 2013 at 8:50 pm — Reply
I love the homemade Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse Pie from a teeny-tiny pie shop in Brooklyn, NY. It's dark and decadent, and soooo silky smooth with a crust so tender it just melts in your mouth. I want to bathe in it! I must have a slice any time I go to that neighborhood.
Margie on September 10, 2013 at 8:34 pm — Reply
That sounds sublime! What is the pie shop? (Just in case I know "someone" who might want to go there...)
laura on September 10, 2013 at 8:52 pm — Reply
The name of the pie shop is The Blue Stove, located at 415 Graham Ave in a section of Williamsburg off the beaten track. Here's their website which includes a brief but heartwarming history: http://www.thebluestove.com/ They're also listed on Yelp, where you can see photos of the actual blue stove which stands testament to the owner's mother and great-grandmother: http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-blue-stove-brooklyn-2 This is a quiet and comfortable place, completely laid back and unpretentious. You can see the pies being made from anywhere in this tiny space, and the owner (Rachel) rolling out pie crusts. Really good coffee and a nice tea selection too. No one is rushed. You can really taste the love in these pies, and I think Rachel has done her mom and grand-mom proud. I hope "someone" gets a chance to go and enjoy this cozy little pie shop soon! ;)
Margie on September 12, 2013 at 11:35 pm — Reply
What a special place!
laura on September 13, 2013 at 7:34 am — Reply
chocolate and freshly toasted walnuts sprinkled lightly with sea salt.
Laura on September 10, 2013 at 8:50 pm — Reply
Mmmm...I'm sensing a theme here...
laura on September 10, 2013 at 9:58 pm — Reply
I love brownies with chocolate buttercream icing!
Debra Lee on September 11, 2013 at 1:33 am — Reply
Ah yes, a classic!
laura on September 11, 2013 at 8:09 am — Reply
It is a bit embarrassing but my absolute favourite way to eat chocolate is in Haagen Dazs chocolate peanut butter ice cream. I can polish off the whole tub if I am not being watched! And since I cannot get this flavour in Europe, I crave it all the more.
Tanya on September 11, 2013 at 8:26 am — Reply
Apparently you are not alone! (See Trixie's comment, above, for tips on creating your own...)
laura on September 11, 2013 at 9:00 am — Reply
I love to make a cocoa coffee snack cake with warm chocolate ganache!
Laura C. on September 11, 2013 at 2:04 pm — Reply
You had me at snack cake!!
laura on September 11, 2013 at 4:47 pm — Reply
I could break my no processed sugar rule for those chocolates. of course, I'd have eat them first thing in the morn because I'd bounce off the walls! I ADORE chocolate in all it's forms, primarily very dark, not too sweet. my favorite way of enjoying it is small pieces, salted, with a glass of port. Then there is cake. pudding. drinking chocolate (a splash of mezcal in it.. mmmm) Thank you, I now have to make ice cream. ( replace the corn starch and sugar)
tamika on September 12, 2013 at 8:15 am — Reply
Laughing...
laura on September 12, 2013 at 9:02 am — Reply
Once again, the quality of your food photographs is without peer, to say nothing of how delicious everything always looks.
Ron on September 12, 2013 at 11:24 am — Reply
And your preferred way to ingest chocolate is...? Through my photos?
laura on September 12, 2013 at 11:10 pm — Reply
I love any kind of chocolate, served any way! Ok, if I had to choose I am partial to pie, chocolate silk pie or cake, I love a good chocolate cake with a ganache frosting, maybe with some raspberry.
Una Walker on September 12, 2013 at 11:25 am — Reply
With raspberries is a classic and very delicious combo!
laura on September 12, 2013 at 11:10 pm — Reply
I love a rich dark chocolate with creaminess that I can let melt slowly on my tongue to savor the flavor and richness.
Jan on September 12, 2013 at 12:10 pm — Reply
Simple perfection!
laura on September 12, 2013 at 11:11 pm — Reply
Dark chocolate is my one addiction. I like to make Jacques Torres' chocolate chip cookies with smashed up 71% Valhrona bars.
Mia on September 12, 2013 at 12:46 pm — Reply
I'm not sure those are Jacques Torres cookies if they aren't made with Jacques Torres chocolate. But perhaps that is splitting hairs.
laura on September 12, 2013 at 11:11 pm — Reply
My homemade dark chocolate truffles.
Meryl on September 12, 2013 at 2:12 pm — Reply
I'll be right over.
laura on September 12, 2013 at 11:12 pm — Reply
I like bittersweet chocolate ice cream.
Louis on September 12, 2013 at 2:13 pm — Reply
Clearly, we are kindred spirits!
laura on September 12, 2013 at 11:12 pm — Reply
I like to eat it in frosting! Yellow cake with chocolate frosting....yummm
rachel on September 12, 2013 at 9:26 pm — Reply
Yep, nothing wrong with that!
laura on September 12, 2013 at 11:12 pm — Reply
I love letting dark chocolate melt slowly in my mouth!
Debra Lee on September 12, 2013 at 11:41 pm — Reply
Sensing a trend here...
laura on September 13, 2013 at 7:35 am — Reply
I am a sucker for chocolate covered pretzels - the combination of sweet and salty flavors, and creamy and crunchy textures, is perfect.
Wehaf on September 13, 2013 at 1:27 am — Reply
I can see the appeal but I've never actually eaten one. May have to change that...
laura on September 13, 2013 at 7:36 am — Reply
Wow, that ice cream looks delicious! My favorite way to eat chocolate is as cocoa powder in my oatmeal. Delicious and not too fattening!
Madeline on September 14, 2013 at 2:46 pm — Reply
Now that's a really unique way to sneak chocolate in!
laura on September 14, 2013 at 5:07 pm — Reply
Haha - I have to come up with just ONE way that I enjoy chocolate. It doesn't matter much to me. I like candy bars, chocolate chip cookies, chocolate ice cream, chocolate covered nuts, brownies.
Susan Christy on September 15, 2013 at 9:48 pm — Reply
At last, an honest answer...
laura on September 15, 2013 at 11:03 pm — Reply
Favorite...way? You mean, people can get past just unwrapping it and sticking it in their mouth? Haha. I guess my favorite way, besides that, would be in cookies or ice cream!
Whitney Lindeman on September 15, 2013 at 11:11 pm — Reply
As I've learned from the answers above, from wrapper to mouth is a very popular way to enjoy chocolate!
laura on September 16, 2013 at 6:50 am — Reply
I'll bite. For lunch with bread and fresh fruit, as in backpacking through Europe with limited budget for restaurant meals, or with dried fruit and nuts, as in the old cadbury fruit and nut bar, which used to be a decent quality snack to take on hikes.
Elizabeth on September 16, 2013 at 9:55 am — Reply