Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Chocolate ice cream

Confession: I generally dislike most chocolate desserts.

Of course, now you all are looking at me like I'm some sort of weird, possibly non-human, definitely non-female thing.

Honestly, I have no big explanation; it just doesn't do anything for me.  Rarely will I pick up a chocolate creation as my first, or even second, choice for a dessert item.  There are a few chocolate desserts that I will eat without hesitation like chocolate chip cookies (because, well, they're chocolate chip cookies) and fudgey (but never cakey and always without mix-ins, thankyouverymuch) brownies.

There are things I won't touch no matter how desperate I am, like fudge and dark chocolate.

Everything else pretty much falls into the "only if I'm really craving something sweet and there is absolutely no alternative" category.  Chocolate ice cream usually falls into this group.

You may be wondering then, why I decided to make a chocolate ice cream to showcase on the blog.  Well, Tara asked and I'm always up for a challenge.  That said, I was still a little hesitant to make it, but I figured that if I didn't like it, I would certainly be able to give it away to someone.  Plus, I had planned to make it for Christmas and pair it with some peppermint meringues (and we all see how that went...)

David Lebovitz, who I got this recipe from, says this is his ultimate chocolate homemade ice cream.  I can certainly see why, as it just may nudge chocolate ice cream into something I like...on purpose.  In other words, if I, a non-chocolate lover, like this, you should jump on it!

Chocolate Ice Cream
from David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop

A note about the cocoa powder.  Don't stress if you only have regular (unsweetened cocoa powder); I wasn't able to find any Dutch-processed cocoa powder anywhere and didn't want to order any online.  I'm sure it affects the flavor a bit - I thought it was a smidge acidic - but it's still quite delicious.


2 cups (500 mL) heavy cream, divided
3 tablespoons (21 g) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
5 ounces (140 g) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup (250 mL) whole milk
¾ cup (150 g) granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
5 large egg yolks
½ teaspoon vanilla extract


Bring 1 cup (250 mL) of the cream and cocoa powder to a boil, whisking to fully incorporate the cocoa while heating. Immediately reduce the heat and simmer for 30 seconds, whisking constantly. Remove from the heat and stir in the chopped chocolate until smooth. Stir in the rest of the cream. Pour the liquid into a bowl, making sure to scrape all of that chocolatey goodness out (Did I just say that?!).  Place a mesh strainer on top of the bowl.

Heat the milk, sugar, and salt in the same saucepan you used above. While that is heating, whisk the egg yolks in another bowl. Temper the egg yolks by slowly pouring the warm milk mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. (I like to do this a bit slower by pouring some of the liquid into the eggs by the ladle-full about 2-3 times and then pouring the rest of the milk mixture into the bowl.)  Pour the warm egg-milk mixture back into the saucepan.

Continue heating the mixture over medium heat while stirring constantly with a wooden spoon (or other heatproof utensil), scraping the bottom as you go, until the mixture thickens and coats the spoon (170°F on an instant-read thermometer). Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the chocolate mixture until fully incorporated, then stir in the vanilla.

Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, preferably overnight, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Nutmeg Ice Cream

I made this ice cream before Christmas to accompany the Eggnog cookies.  Unfortunately, their flavor profiles were so similar, that there wasn't much of a difference in how they tasted.  I had to mentally smack myself in the forehead for thinking that nutmeg custard (read: egg-based) ice cream would be much different from eggnog cookies with nutmeg.

Oh well, you live and learn, right? 

In any event, I liked the ice cream well enough, but felt that it needed more flavor.  The nutmeg flavor just wasn't strong enough.  The nutmeg only imparted a light, oddly floral note that is almost lost in the richness of the custard base.  This has got to be due to the extremely short steeping time.  When I was reviewing the recipe, I thought it was odd that it called for steeping the nutmeg for only 10 minutes. Any other recipe I've seen that requires steeping says to do so for about an hour.  I've adjusted the time in the recipe, but know that I didn't actually steep for that long, so maybe check your base at 30 minutes or so.   

Final bit of advice: normally, I suggest an overnight chill in the fridge for custard bases, but here, it is required.  It's absolutely crucial to developing the full flavor of the nutmeg.

Nutmeg Ice Cream
Adapted from Saveur

Yield: About 1 Quart

To easily crack the nutmeg, either use a nutcracker or place the nutmeg in a plastic bag and smash it with a hammer or a rolling pin.  Don't just bang it with your rolling pin on the counter because the nutmeg will shatter everywhere, not that I did any such thing (ahem).


2 cups half-and-half
1 whole nutmeg, cracked
2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
 3/4 cup sugar
6 egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream


Heat half-and-half and cracked nutmeg in a 4-qt. saucepan until it just begins to simmer. Remove from heat; let steep for 10 minutes (at least - see liner notes above).

While the cracked nutmeg is steeping, toast grated nutmeg in a skillet over medium heat, 1–2 minutes. (This is optional.  It adds a somewhat floral essence to the nutmeg.)  Remove pan from heat; set aside.

In a bowl, whisk together sugar and yolks. Then, still whisking, slowly pour in half-and-half mixture. Return mixture to pan; cook, stirring, until mixture thickens, 8–10 minutes. Pour through a fine strainer into a large bowl or measuring cup (which is what I always do). Whisk in toasted nutmeg and cream; cover custard and chill in the fridge overnight.

Freeze custard according to manufacturers instructions.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Eggnog cookies

I know, I know!  The holidays are over and here I am posting not only a cookie recipe, but an eggnog cookie recipe.  I have some nerve don't I?  Well, hello, this is a dessert blog.  Surely you expected nothing less...

In my defense, I made these before Christmas and am just now getting around to posting. However, there is always room for cookies and my local stores still have eggnog stocked so you still have time.  Otherwise, you can tuck this recipe away until eggnog season rolls around again...  

On their own, these cookies are essentially a sugar cookie with an eggnog aftertaste.  The eggnog flavor kind of sneaks up on you after you've taken a few chews.  The icing definitely brings the eggnog flavor.  They are exactly what you, or at least what I, want in a sugar cookie: slightly crispy on the edges and soft and chewy in the middle.  I particularly liked how they got chewier each day.

A note about piping the icing, despite how cool the pictures of the iced cookies look, I would definitely change my technique if I make these cookies again.  First, I used a plastic baggie and cut the opening too big. Smaller is better here, folks.  Second, I should have separated the cookies before the icing set/dried because I had all these little tails of icing hanging off the cookies once I separated them.  (It was actually kind of cute. And the dogs appreciated when the little pieces kept falling on the floor.  You know, on accident...ahem...)  Finally, in light of the icing tails, it might have been easier, and definitely would have been prettier, to do swirls on all the cookies.       

Iced eggnog cookies
Adapted from Cookie Madness

Yield: 6 dozen small cookies; 1.5 cups icing


Cookie dough
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (or 1/2 teaspoon pre-ground)
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup SALTED butter, room temp
1/2 cup eggnog
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon nutmeg (optional)*

Eggnog icing
3 C. confectioners’ sugar
1/4 C. softened butter
1/3 C. commercial eggnog (use as much as you need)


Preheat oven to 300F.

In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg; mix well with a wire whisk and set aside.

In a large bowl, cream sugar and butter with an electric mixer. Add eggnog, vanilla and egg yolks and beat at medium speed until smooth. Add the dry ingredients and beat at low speed just until combined.

Drop by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased baking sheets, 1″ apart. Sprinkle lightly with nutmeg or skip this step and sprinkle on the nutmeg after you ice the cookies. Bake for 23-25 minutes or until bottoms turn light brown.

While the cookies are baking, make the icing:  In small mixer bowl, beat confectioners’ sugar and butter until well blended. Gradually beat in eggnog until icing is smooth.

Transfer to cool, flat surface immediately with spatula.  Ice the cookies after they are completely cool.

I didn't top the cookies with nutmeg because I was intending to pair them with nutmeg ice cream and I didn't want the flavor to over power everything.  However, if you're eating them on their own, the nutmeg topping is highly recommended.