Baked Sunday Mornings: Dark Chocolate Ice Cream (with Bourbon Caramel & Pretzels)

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I think I can safely say that the Great Chocolate Drought of 2017-18 is now over. I went an embarrassing amount of time without regularly posting recipes that toiled in the depths of deep, dark, decadent chocolate. And I genuinely felt like something was missing in my life. But the past few weeks have seen a return to said decadence, so I feel like I’ve regained my balance of chocolate and non-chocolate– possibly the two most important forces in the life of a baker. I was very happy that this week’s Baked Sunday Mornings recipe, Dark Chocolate Ice Cream from BAKED: New Frontiers in Baking, upheld my streak. Containing both cocoa powder and 8 ounces of chopped chocolate, I knew this would be one rich batch of ice cream, and I was ready to dive in spoon-first!

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The recipe calls for a little black cocoa powder, which is one of my favorite baking ingredients of all time. It is the magical stuff that gives Oreo cookies their “Oreo-ness”. The intro to the recipe says that they originally made the ice cream with all black cocoa, but that it was too intense, so they chose a 1:3 ratio of black cocoa to regular dark cocoa powder. It is still very dark with the latter, but I admit that I’m curious to try it with a greater ratio of black cocoa at some point. Also, I elected to use the darkest chocolate that I own– 72%, though I’m sure anything from 60% and up would make a lovely ice cream. Furthermore, the recipe also suggests the addition of pretzels for a sweet and salty kick, which I was definitely in favor of, but I wanted something else… I was thinking a “toffee ripple” sort of situation. Then I realized that I had some leftover bourbon caramel from St. Patrick’s Day– that was the stuff!

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The ice cream base is really easy and quick to make… assuming your thermometer is in the mood to cooperate, which mine was not. After chopping the chocolate and whisking the eggs in a bowl, I heated the milk, cream, sugar, and both cocoa powders just to a boil, then added ⅓ of the mixture to the eggs, followed by another ⅓, and poured that back into the original pot. At this point you heat the mixture to 170°F with the help of a chocolate thermometer. I own a candy thermometer and a regular thermometer, but not a dedicated chocolate thermometer. I used the candy one, but it seemed to have trouble gauging the right temperature, and after only a couple of minutes it jumped from 160-180°F and back a few times, such that it was really hard to tell an accurate temperature. In the course of this confusion, I think I overcooked the ice cream base– it thickened to something of a pudding consistency, rather than an ice cream custard. When I strained the mixture into the bowl of chopped chocolate, there were a lot of cooked egg bits left in the strainer. Once I whisked everything together to melt the chocolate, the mixture looked like it was on the verge of breaking (slightly grainy-looking, but still smooth), but it did hold together. I placed the bowl in an ice bath to cool it down quickly and stuck it in the fridge overnight.

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When I pulled it out the next morning, it was almost as thick as a chocolate truffle filling, so I wasn’t sure how it would freeze. When I scraped it into the ice cream machine, it was barely able to churn; I managed to keep it in there for 10 minutes, but I had to manually move it around with a spatula since it was too thick to move around the bowl on its own. After transferring it into my ice cream container, I drizzled about ¼ cup bourbon caramel and sprinkled 40g (1 cup or so) broken pretzels over the ice cream, then folded them in so that every bite of the dark chocolaty ice cream would have the boozy/salty/sweet flavor of the mixins. (Plus a little extra on top for good measure.) I could tell at this point that it would be wicked delicious, but I wasn’t sure about the texture– before it went into the freezer, it was already as thick as soft-serve or gelato.

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This morning I was sad to find that the ice cream had, in fact, hardened so much that it was difficult to scoop. I’ve tried ice cream recipes from some of the best ice cream cookbooks on the market, and I have to say that my favorites are the ones from BAKED, even though they are not actually ice cream purveyors. Both the Pecan Praline and Pink Peppermint Stick ice creams that I’ve made have the most creamy, ethereal texture for both eating and scooping. This one, while delicious, had to be left out for close to hour in order to scoop it, and because of the pretzel pieces, it ended up a little crumbly. I think that if my ice cream base had been thinner, the texture would have been perfect. Also, in the future I’d add mixins in smaller pieces because they would better integrate into the ice cream without breaking up the creamy texture.

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Despite the scooping consistency issues, I absolutely loved this ice cream! It is dense and chewy (okay, maybe it’s not supposed to be) and sooooo rich. I loved the mixins, except that the pretzels got a little soft– I bet that using chocolate covered pretzels would take care of that problem! The boozy sweetness of the caramel paired beautifully with the intensity and slight bitterness of the dark chocolate. As far as chocolate ice cream goes, this is deep and dark and unabashedly indulgent; if you too like to dwell in that sort of shameless chocolate territory, I suggest putting your ice cream maker bowl in the freezer right quick!

Find the recipe for Dark Chocolate Ice Cream at Baked Sunday Mornings, and check out the other variations made by my fellow baker/bloggers! 🙂

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© Dafna Adler & Stellina Sweets, 2018.

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