Single Estate Chocolate Ice Cream

Chocolate scoop

I have formed a dangerous addiction to the single estate Valrhona bars, and I really do think that it doesn’t get any better in terms of pure eating chocolate. Since that’s the case, and since we’ve been talking about doing super-super-premium ice cream flavours for our shops, we decided to make single estate chocolate ice cream. (There’s a bit on us on the cover of today’s Sunday Times business section this subject).

Valrhona Grand CruGiven the expense of the chocolate, we have to charge a euro extra per scoop. I tried two out of the three single estates – Ampamakia, my favourite for eating, and Palmira. The latter is definitely better in the ice cream, but both are good.

As with many of the finer things, it’s the subtlety and complexity of flavour that makes it special. If you can find the bars and want to go wild and treat yourself, here’s a recipe!

Murphys Single Estate Chocolate Ice Cream

1 Cup (237 ml) Sugar
5 Egg Yolks
1 1/8 Cup (266 ml) Milk
1 1/8 Cup (266 ml) Cream
7 oz (200 gm) Valrhona Single Estate Chocolate
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Yield: 6 Servings 

What to do: 

1. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler over simmering water or a microwave. Take care – chocolate burns easily!

2. Beat sugar and egg yolks together until pale yellow.

3. Bring the milk to a simmer.

4. Remove from the heat and beat the milk into the egg and sugar mixture in a slow stream. Pour the mixture back into pan and place over low heat.  Stir until the custard thickens (around 60C). 

5. Add to the melted chocolate in small parts and mix thoroughly until smooth and velvety.

6. Allow the chocolate custard to cool.

7. Stir in the vanilla.

8. Whip the cream and fold into the mix.

8. Freeze using a domestic ice cream machine, or cover and place in the freezer.

6 Servings.

Notes:

1. The boiler or container in which you melt the chocolate must be completely dry or the chocolate can clump.

2. The chocolate and the custard should both be hot when you mix them.

3. To pasteurise the eggs, heat the custard to 73C and keep at that temperature for three minutes. Use a cooking thermometer, though! If the custard goes any higher than 76C, the eggs will scramble. Immediately cover and place in the freezer until cool.

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Hot Chocolate Revisited

Bittersweet Hot ChocolateAfter my last post, I decided to revisit the hot chocolate recipe I gave here and check it against the Pierre Herme cookbook. Certainly the master of sweet things would have much to offer.

His take on hot chocolate has the following differences to my recipe: he uses water instead of milk, and he adds quite a bit of cocoa as well as the chocolate. In my opinion, the result was less than optimal, with the taste of chocolate blunted by the sensation of the cocoa and the water making it less luxurious.

There’s a funny thing that happens with bitter things such as coffee and chocolate, and that is that you need sweetness to taste the flavour. It’s said that we’re hard-wired to like sweets and avoid bitter tastes, since most poisons in nature taste bitter, and so bitter things are an acquired taste (kids very rarely like coffee or bitter chocolate). Bitter things are delightful as we get older, and I’m a big fan, but there is a balance to be struck, and the Japanese refer to it as “umami.”

Chocolate emulsionHigher cocoa content only brings more chocolate flavour up to a point. 70% chocolate has more chocolate flavour than 30% chocolate. However, if you go much above that, I believe you stop tasting the chocolate and you only have a taste sensation of “bitter.” The flavour complexity is lost without sweetness.

To me it’s the same as coffee. Virtually all Italians stir at least two sugars into their espressos. There is a reason they do so, and that is to bring out the coffee flavour. Espresso without sugar simply tastes bitter. Espresso with sugar tastes of coffee. Try it, if you like, adding sugar in small amounts, and you will see that the full flavour of the bean will emerge.

Anyway, it pains me to say it, but I do believe there is a thing as too much chocolate. I happily stand behind my earlier recipe!

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Chocolate Desserts

Chocolate Desserts

 

What a fabulous treat awaited today when I returned to my office after first working on fixing up the courtyard, scooping ice cream and then spending a chunk of time bent over the ladies toilet in the Dingle shop replacing the sheared bolts holding down the bowl (ah yes, the joys of business ownership!).

The Pierre Hermé “Chocolate Desserts” book written by Dorie Greenspan was front and centre on my desk. I had ordered it from Amazon after reading about the experiences of cooks working with it on eGullet, but with all the excitement of the Easter rush I had forgotten all about it.

Any chocoholic will salivate simply looking at the pictures. I didn’t get a whole heap of work done the next hour. I just leafed through the pages and drooled. I can’t wait to get in and try some of the recipes (I noticed one straight away for chocolate crepes. I’ll have to try it out and perhaps modify the previous recipe!) Below is his chocolate, coffee, and whiskey granita. Bottoms up!

Chocolate Desserts 2

 

By the way, there is an nice aggregator of food blogs called Food Porn Watch. A peculiar name all right, but worth a look for any foodie. The photos on many of the blogs are sublime. I guess I’ll have to up my game!

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Belgian Chocolate

One of the best things about being in this business (besides ice cream) is that many days you have treats such as coffee and chocolate arriving in the door, making for happy eating and drinking.

Today, one of our great customers, the mysterious Lady K from the greater Dublin area, dropped in a gift of some Pierre Marcolini chocolate she had picked up from their store in Belgium. It’s truly delicious. What a treat! For those interested, they also have a boutique in Kensington and New York.

Then a salesman arrived in from Nairobi coffee, and it was double espressos all around. I don’t think we’ll switch from our current supplier, but it certainly gave the afternoon a good buzz!

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Chocolate and Lent

Valrhona Organic Chocolate We are into Lent, which is a sad time for us. Customers come in looking a little mournful, and you try to cheer them up talking about the exciting new organic chocolate from Valrhona that’s just arrived and is truly excellent. They look even more desolate and say, “I’ve given chocolate up for Lent.” Yes, chocolate and Lent are anathema in Ireland.

As you know, chocolate is very dear to my heart, and the point of this certainly is not to undermine Lent. You might also think I’m just being greedy in a holy time, which is not the case at all. In fact, we more than make up for any loss of chocolate sales with lots of coffee (or even more tea, if customers have also given up coffee), chocolate-free cakes and ice cream. I guess people have to make up for that empty chocolate part of their soul.

Which makes me digress and think of my grandmother Kitty, who had a pub in Cork. She dreaded Lent because all the fellows gave up the drink. Mind you, they didn’t give up her pub, which did a flying trade. They gave up the porter, and for the whole period before Easter, got more sloppy drinking sherry, port, etc. than they ever would have done if they stuck with their usual pints.

Chocolate biteNo, what I question with this giving up of chocolate, and you might find this a bit literal, but as far as I know the concept of fasting had to do with meat. Look at the pre-Lenten festivals – “Carnival” means “Farewell to meat” in Latin. I’ve never heard of “Chocolate-val.” People who took a more stringent line on the fasting would also give up wine, and the real penitents would shun all animal products and basically become vegan. However, being vegan means you can eat natural bittersweet chocolate, which shouldn’t have milk in it.

In fact, I found this snippet in the Catholic Encyclopedia in reference to fasting during Lent: “…the custom has been tolerated of taking a cup of liquid (e.g., tea or coffee, or even chocolate) with a fragment of bread or toast in the early morning…”

“Hold on!” you might say. “What about chocolate eggs at Easter? Shouldn’t we undertake a penance for all the chocolate we will devour?” That’s good thinking, but perhaps such a fast is better suited to children.

If you study the history of Easter, the chocolate egg is a recent phenomenon, and the whole “eggs as renewal” metaphor was pagan anyway, as was the Eostre holiday. The druids certainly didn’t have any chocolate with which to cheer themselves up (or give up).

“But it’s an unhealthy sin! You should give up fags, drink and chocolate!” Is it unhealthy? The other two have serious health consequences, but there have been numerous studies to the contrary about chocolate. Check out CNN, Newsday, BBC, and the Irish Examiner to name just a few sources.

Now I couldn’t really say, “Eat chocolate, and do away with meat!” as I don’t eat meat anyway, and so Lent is a breeze. Besides, I feel in my heart for local butchers, who have a terrible time with the multiples squeezing them out of business, and forty days of lost sales would be more than any retailer could handle.

Still, I feel chocolate really is getting rough and perhaps mis-guided treatment… Might I suggest some sort of middle ground? The following list mixes penitence with a complementary feel-good factor:

List of Things to Give Up for Lent:

1. Chocolate with zero cocoa content
2. Pre-packaged meats from supermarkets
3. Tinned prawns
4. Wine in gallon jugs
5. UHT milk and cream
6. Processed cheeses
7. Non-free-range eggs
8. Anything with food colouring
9. Instant coffee
10. Fast food

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Craquantes and Other Bits and Pieces

Chocolate PearlsStill on the subject of chocolate, I received a sample yesterday of Valrhona crunchy chocolate pieces from our supplier Odaios (see left). It surely is a wonderful thing to be in this business and get such presents! I’m practically sick from them; they are so good, and the sample size is so large! If there are any left on Tuesday, they will make a great addition to a batch of ice cream.

The factory was also brightened by the lovely Clodagh McKenna and Aoife, the producer for the excellent RTE radio show Winter Food. They recorded us and various factory noises. We should be on next Saturday’s show so listen in if you can.

Clodagh wanted a recipe for ice cream. I was thinking of white chocolate and rose water. I guess I can’t get chocolate off my mind!

Since I can’t, I might as well mention that my friend Conor brought back chocolate covered espresso beans from Caffe Sant’Eustachio in Rome, who make some of the best coffee in the world. As I munch away I think that it’s a pity he couldn’t bring back a cappuccino to go with them! Happily the Dingle shop will be open on Wednesday, and I’ll be back in the coffee again.

CourtyardAs we’re on that subject, I have been trying to do something with the interior courtyard in the shop. We inherited a half-plastered wall and have left it that way for the last six years. Finally I’ve decided to tackle it and tried painting it with a wash of our blue. It’s a bit electric, though. I don’t know what I think! I should be in there today painting away and getting ready for the opening, but I’m feeling lazy and besides we’ve given over the shop to the West Kerry Mental Health Assn for the weekend so they could raise some money by selling books.

Finally, this whole blogging thing is still quite new to me, but it’s quite exciting to see what’s out there, and what they are writing about. conoroneill is an interesting gourmet site, and I just did a search to see who’s writing about our company, and he was one of them! Sometimes one can feel a bit isolated as a foody in a rural part of Ireland (mind you, Dingle has its fair share), and this should help!

Chocolate and Chocolate Sauce

We have been spending a lot of time these days talking about chocolate, and being chocoholics there are worse conversations to have!

Over the last six years, we have had an on-going discussion about Valrhona vs. Callebaut. We originally used the Callebaut for everything, then switched to Valrhona two years ago. The difference in Melted Chocolatetaste is immense – the Callebaut is deep and rich, the Valrhona is clean and simple on the palate. Valrhona is a much smaller company, and they have a top reputation among the gourmet community. In terms of eating chocolate, we wouldn’t touch another. But things get complicated with ice cream. Often “cruder” flavours taste better when they are combined with the ice cream mix…

In any case, we did a test for chocolate sauce using both, and liked the Valrhona better on its own, but the Callebaut better when served over vanilla ice cream.

If you want to try our recipe, here it is:

Murphys Ice Cream Chocolate Sauce

  • 150 gm chocolate (Valrhona Araguani or Callebaut 72% is what we used. If you can’t find either, just use a very good quality bittersweet chocolate. Note that it will only taste as good as the quality of chocolate you use!)
  • 75 ml cream (42% fat)
    20 gm cocoa (We use Green and Black Organic)
    175 ml milk
    75 gm sugar

Chocolate SauceFollow these instructions carefully if you want a velvety, glossy result:

  1. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler to between 34 and 45C (you can use a mixer bowl in larger pot with water in it)
  2. Mix together the sugar and cocoa.
  3. Put in a pan with the milk and warm to about 45C until dissolved.
  4. Add the milk mixture to the melted chocolate in small parts, mixing in between until it’s incorporated. Keep this up until you have a smooth emulsion. (The chocolate will clump at first and look dreadful, but don’t worry, trust the process!)
  5. Add the cream.

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