It turns out that my beautiful wife is quickly becoming my ice cream muse. For quite a while now I’ve based my ice cream making on recipes by the amazing Jeni Britton Bauer, founder of the now rightly Jeni’s Ice Cream. Everything I’ve made from her fist book on the subject has been amazing. Recently however, my wife has been struck with flavor inspirations and has challenged me to build on Jeni’s well researched (though unusual) base recipes with some new bolt-on flavors.
A few weeks back she had a hankering for a “blueberry cobbler” ice cream, a vanilla base with both blueberry and streusel swirls for fruity sweetness and crunch. It sounded great, though I was a bit concerned that the streusel might somehow get soggy and gummy in the process of making the treat. Rather than make a blueberry sauce from scratch, I used the exercise as an excuse to use a jar of “Stonewall Kitchen – Maine Wild Blueberry Jam” that had established a long-term residence in our pantry. For the streusel, a few handfuls of Trader Joe’s “Pecan Praline Granola” did the trick, staying perfectly crunchy for the duration of its short tenure in our freezer.
This recipe also builds off of a “Jeni” base, and was made to satisfy my wife’s hunger for a spicy chocolate ice cream with a nutty crunch. I stayed true to Jeni’s “Queen City Cayenne” ice cream (though I did bump the cayenne by about 50%), and just added some roughly chopped, roasted and salted hazelnuts for their earthy richness and crunch. If I do say so….this ice cream is amazing. The dark chocolate tweaked by a touch of cinnamon and just enough cayenne to scratch at the back of your throat would be amazing all by itself, but the chunky, salty crunch delivered by the hazelnuts put it WAY over the top. Serve this to friends as if it were plain chocolate-nut ice cream and watch the smile spread across their faces as they discover the warmth of the cinnamon and the spicy tickle of the cayenne. That smile is the first sign of their new addiction!
Now see what you’ve done.
Cheers – Steve
- 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Valhrona)
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup water water
- 1 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
Ice Cream Base
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 Tbs + 1 tsp cornstarch
- 1 1/2 ounces cream cheese, softened (3 tablespoons)
- 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
- 2/3 cups sugar
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (I used about 50% more)
- 1 cup roasted, salted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
For The Chocolate Paste
- Combine the cocoa, sugar, and water in a small saucepan, bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar, and boil for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat, add the chocolate, and stir until smooth. Set aside.
For The Ice Cream Base
- Mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry. Whisk the cream cheese, warm chocolate paste, and salt in a medium bowl until smooth.
- Combine the remaining milk, the cream, sugar, and corn syrup in a 4-quart heavy duty saucepan, bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Bring the mixture back to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, while stirring, until the mixture is slightly thickened, about 1 minute.
- Gradually whisk the hot custard into the cream cheese mixture until smooth. Add the cinnamon and cayenne and stir well. Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator to chill completely, at least 2 hours. When chilled, remove the vanilla bean, stir the custard and freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturers directions. Add chopped nuts during the last 5 minutes of churning.
- Pack the ice cream into a container, press a sheet of parchment paper directly against the surface, and seal the container. Freeze until the ice cream is firm, at least 4 hours.