I recently entered the Chocolate Adventure Contest sponsored by Scharffen Berger and tuttifoodie.com. I didn’t win (you can check out the winners here; some very creative cooks), but I’ve decided that my creation is too pleasurable to keep from the world. So I present to you, in all it’s glory…
TANGO IN WINTER – Bittersweet chocolate ice cream with cocoa nibs and a fleur de sel caramel swirl
Contrasting textures and flavors embrace in a sensual dance for the taste buds.
For fleur de sel caramel:
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 stick unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 tsp. fleur de sel
Combine the sugar and one tablespoon water in a saucepan. Spread in an even layer over the bottom of the pan and place over moderate heat. When the edges begin to melt, stir them toward the center with a heat-proof utensil. Continue stirring gently around the edge of the pan until the sugar has liquefied and turned a uniform, dark amber color. Reduce heat to low. Add the butter and stir until it has melted completely. Still stirring, carefully add the cream. The caramel will bubble and froth. Continue to stir until the liquid is incorporated and any sugar lumps have dissolved into a smooth, glossy sauce. Remove caramel from the heat and set aside to cool. Once the caramel has thickened slightly, stir in the fleur de sel.
For ice cream:
- 3 oz Scharffen Berger 70% Bittersweet Chocolate, cut into chunks
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup Scharffen Berger Cocoa Nibs
- Fleur de sel caramel (above)
- Special equipment: fine-mesh sieve, instant-read thermometer, ice cream maker
Place the chocolate chunks in a medium-sized bowl and set aside. Combine the cream, milk, sugar and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over moderate heat. Meanwhile, lightly whisk the egg yolks together in a small bowl. Whisking constantly, pour some of the simmered cream over the yolks in a slow stream. This will temper the eggs and keep them from scrambling. Scrape the warmed egg yolks into the saucepan with the rest of the cream mixture.
Cook the custard over medium heat, stirring constantly in a figure-eight motion with a heat-proof utensil until the mixture thickens and registers between 170 and 180 degrees F, 10-15 minutes. Pour the custard through a fine mesh sieve into the bowl containing the chocolate. Add the vanilla and stir until all of the chocolate has melted. Cover the bowl and refrigerate the mixture until chilled, several hours.
Freeze the custard in your ice cream make according to the maufacturer’s instructions. In the last stages of churning, add the cocoa nibs.
Stir the caramel to distribute the salt evenly. Spoon half of the churned ice cream into a medium bowl or ice cream container. Pour a layer of caramel over the ice cream. Add the rest of the ice cream and top with another layer of caramel. Use a spatula or large spoon to swirl the layers together. Eat at once, or chill ice cream in the freezer until firm. Top with extra caramel sauce, if desired.