This particular ice cream journey began with a spur-of-the-moment decision to visit Island Creamery after a less-than-satisfactory dinner. I was particularly impressed by the burnt caramel and apple pie ice cream that my brother had chosen and wondered if I could reproduce those same delicious flavours at home.
I was a little apprehensive since I’d made ice cream only twice previously, both attempts which produced less-than-ideal results. My very first attempt was made without an ice cream maker. On top of that, I didn’t freeze-then-churn the custard sufficiently. resulting in a slightly icy texture and vanilla specks that sunk to the bottom of the tub. My second atttempt saw a custard recipe that called for double cream. While the ice cream wasn’t as icy as before, it wasn’t sweet enough and left an unpleasant coating on the tongue, presumably from too high a fat content. It was a pretty disappointing waste of very expensive dairy ingredients.
I was determined to make my third attempt a success.
Burnt Caramel Ice Cream
I turned to Michael Recchiuti’s Chocolate Obsession for the burnt caramel ice cream recipe. Having read his instructions very carefully, especially the part about turning on a kitchen fan if I had one, I had this vision of my kitchen filling up with acrid smoke while caramel turned black in my pot. Fortunately, it was nothing like that. Yes, there was some smoking, but just a few wisps and the caramel wasn’t ebony black, but a very dark amber instead.
The truth be told, I began to have doubts about the chosen flavour when I tasted the burnt caramel base on its own; it was bitter and tasted … well, burnt. But once dissolved into the creamy custard, the taste was absolutely fantastic and even better after churning and ripening! The ice cream had a deep caramel taste with mild burnt overtones. The best part was that it was completely smooth and the vanilla specks stayed happily suspended in the frozen ice cream.
Cocoa Nib Ice Cream with Caramelised Cocoa Nibs
Emboldened by my success with this ice cream recipe, I moved on to another from the same book. The 1-kg bag of Valrhona cocoa nibs, delivered right to my doorstep a couple months ago, was still untouched. The second I’d cut the bag open, the most wonderful chocolate fragrance filled the air. It was just like opening up a bag of roasted coffee beans, except that the smell was that of pure chocolate heaven.
Oh, how I regret not having ripped open the package the moment it arrived! All this time a heavenly culinary moment was just sitting in a corner of my kitchen, waiting to happen! I had no idea that cocoa nibs smelt this good. I’m not entirely sure how to describe it; somehow I keep thinking the words “pure” and “clean”, certainly not adjectives one usually associates with chocolate, but that was exactly what I felt it was: a very pure and clean chocolate aroma.
The cocoa nib ice cream reminded me very vaguely of Milo and Ovaltine, but there was something different about it. I don’t think it’s a taste I can describe acurately. You’ll just have to try it yourself to find out!
The caramelised nibs mixed into the churned custard tasted slightly bitter as I’d messed up the caramelising process and ended up with small chunks of unmelted sugar and some burnt nibs in the mix. I’ll probably leave the caramelised nibs out of the custard in the future and just sprinkle it over the ice cream.
I’m thinking apple pie ice cream next!
Old School Blackforest Cake
The photograph here is of the blackforest cake I’d made for my brother’s 30th birthday. It was a little daunting to make since this was the most frequently requested cake in my mum’s cake business while we were growing up. Fortunately, I had my mum’s recipe on hand and some carefully written notes on the side. Still, I wasn’t sure if the cake I’d made would live up to our memories of what it’d tasted like before.
But I’m glad to report that the cake turned out well and mum actually thought it tasted fine, just that I’d been a little too generous cream-wise!
After having the cake, my brother confessed that he’d never really liked blackforest cake (and I’d thought it was his favourite!) and to be completely honest, neither had I! But I was glad that I gave my mum’s recipe a shot because my dad and hubby thoroughly enjoyed it.