Chocolate Stash

imageFor Christmas I asked for chocolate. I like really good chocolate. Not your Hershey’s sour milk chocolate (although I will not turn that down mind you) but well-crafted dark chocolate. My stocking was full of the stuff and I got some other bars and treats aside from that. I have a stash that will last me a while. If I am careful.

A bunch of years ago I had surgery and I had to lie on the couch for a couple weeks. I watched a lot of movies during that time. My beautiful spouse, always one to make my life better, got me a couple of dark chocolate bars. Maybe it was because I was in slow mode, maybe it was because I was in a mood to appreciate things more than usual, or maybe it was the drugs I was on, but those chocolate bars satisfied in a big way. And I wanted more.

These days I try to have a bit of chocolate on hand at all times. When I want a sweet treat I can break off a bit and find some satisfaction. It keeps me from eating too much ice cream, if you know what I’m saying. At the moment I have a supply to last me well into the winter. I hope. That hazelnut bar went down, let me tell you. And those Lake Champlain Chocolates are pretty much to die for, if you’ll allow me the expression. If I have to get surgery any time soon, I will be set for a few days, but pacing myself could be a challenge.

I hear global warming might mean chocolate shortages. Plus other factors such as witch’s broom fungus mean less cocoa production. And then there’s the new strain of cocoa that tastes like crap. So the days of accessible and affordable delicious chocolate could be waning. I hope that is not the case. And demand often means problems get solved because prices go up. Worst case scenario would be too much to bear. At the moment, however, I am going to enjoy what I’ve got. The stuff is just so damn good.

Creemee Musings

I painted the house for a while today and when I took a break for lunch was offered the idea of heading to the creemee stand for a cone. I did not want to disappoint my children, who have not had the pleasure of my company for such a foray for several weeks. I could not refuse. So after lunch, and a quick pop outside to scrape just a little more, we hopped in the family rig for a treat.

I chose to get something different, something unusual, something I have not had, as I mentioned to my wife when it emerged from the window, since I was about nine years old–a small vanilla swirled frozen soft ice cream delight. I never get vanilla, unless it is accompanied by its partner chocolate. I also mentioned to this same wife of mine that the last time I had a vanilla cone I did not refer to it as a “creemee.”  I just called it soft serve ice cream. So we discussed my transition, when I moved to Vermont, from “soft serve” to “creemee” as one worth making and full of portent for our once blossoming relationship.

The vanilla was, indeed, tasty. It was hardly plain for me, as it so rarely visits my palate, so I enjoyed it with gusto. My daughter had respberry. My son had maple. My wife had none, having succumbed to the urge to eat ice cream at home earlier in the day. There are six choices at our local creemee stand–vanilla, chocolate, raspberry, maple, vanilla and chocolate swirled, and maple and raspberry swirled. The maple and raspberry combination would seem to be the least popular, but many people like it. My wife compared it to raspberry pancakes with maple syrup; a good comparison.

I considered that this latter combination might be the least popular creemee flavor, but I could only speculate, so I went to the window, where the perky teenage server had helped us earlier, and asked her “What is the least popular creemee flavor ordered?” She did not hesitate to tell me, “chocolate, hands down.” She continued, “I’m not sure why; chocolate is my favorite and is pretty much all I get.” She told me that the two-flavor mix in question is actually one of the most popular orders.  And plain vanilla is probably right up there, although she wasn’t counting or anything.

Maple is not a regular flavor for creemees, even in Vermont, but is all my son wants. He isn’t alone, despite that most maple creemees are not made with real maple syrup. The ones that are–whoo baby!–that is some fine gustatory enjoyment I tell you.

Whoda thunk chocolate would be the least popular flavor? People will eat anything if it involves chocolate–coffee beans, ants, gummi bears (I mean, come on people, gummi bears?), bacon. I guess I was more in the main stream with my vanilla cone than I would have thought. I know vanilla is popular, but I would have thought chocolate would have been more popular. I don’t know doodly. Apparently.

I did enjoy the vanilla cone. Next time, however, I’m getting chocolate, or at least vanilla and chocolate. Call me a maverick. You might as well, since you won’t be able to call me plain vanilla.

Another Batch of Ice Cream

Recently my wife has been craving chocolate ice cream. One day last week she went to four stores in search of Ben and Jerry’s chocolate ice cream. Chocolate ice cream is pretty much found anywhere one might find ice cream but we like to eat locally. Truth: Ben and Jerry’s is hard to beat. Chocolate ice cream is one thing. Good chocolate ice cream is another.

So I decided to make some good chocolate ice cream. After some delicious trial and error I think I’ve got it. Not too rich, not too meak. Plenty of creaminess and just sweet enough.

Here is the recipe for one quart wicked good chocolate ice cream:

Melt 1 ounce unsweetened baking chocolate in a double boiler or in a sauce pan over low heat.

Stir in 1/4 cup baking chocolate. It will get clumpy but have no fear.

Stir in 1/2 cup skim milk and 1 cup cream, a little a time. Whisk until smooth. Let cool.

In a bowl, whisk two eggs until light and fluffy, a couple of minutes. Add 3/4 cup sugar, a little at a time, until blended. Whisk in 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 cup cream.

Mix all the ingredients together until well blended. Let cool for at least one hour in a refrigerator. Use an ice cream maker to turn it into ice cream.

Try not to eat it all once.

Next up: mint chocolate ice cream made with fresh mint. I’m salivating already.

Fresh Mint Ice Cream

I had the idea recently to use some of the mint we have in our herb garden to make some ice cream.   I found a recipe by another blogger with a recipe she tried that involved using fresh mint.  I tried it myself, with a little variation.  I used cream, of course, but also skim milk.  And I used good chocolate.  I chopped up a couple of bars of Lake Champlain dark chocolate and added that.

Chocolate Chopping

Chocolate Chopping

It was very minty.  My wife described it as having a “Kapachow!’ right when you tasted it, but then a mellow finish.  It has a fresh real mint taste.  I might use less mint next time, but maybe not.  I wouldn’t want to lose too much of the flavor I was after to begin with.  Overall, I think it tasted about right.  Here is the finished product:

Chocolate Chip Mint Ice Cream Ready for Snacking

Chocolate Chip Mint Ice Cream Ready for Snacking

Here is recipe I used, (a variation on this one), which makes about 1 quart:

Ingredients:

1 cup skim milk

3/4 cup sugar

2 cups cream

pinch of salt

2 cups packed mint leaves

5 egg yolks

6 oz. chopped good quality dark chocolate

Directions:

1. Mix the milk, sugar, salt and 1 cup of the cream in a saucepan and warm it gently.  Submerge the mint leaves in the liquid and set aside to steep at room temperature for an hour.

2. Pass the mixture through a strainer into another saucepan, pressing on the leaves to remove as much liquid as possible.  Toss the leaves into your compost bucket and rewarm the liquid.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks until fluffy (a couple of minutes).  Slowly pour the warmed mint liquid into the egg yolks, whisking the whole time.  Then pour the egg cream mint mixture back into the saucepan.

4. Stir the mixture over medium heat with a silicone spatula that can take the heat, scraping the bottom, until the mixture thickens and sticks to the spatula.

5. Pour the 2nd cup of cream into a bowl and place a strainer over it.  Pour the warm liquid through the strainer into the cream.  Mix until blended.

6. Cool your ice cream mixture thoroughly, several hours in a refrigerator or chill in an ice bath and then cool an hour in a refrigerator.

7. Freeze in an ice cream maker, adding the chocolate bits at the end and mixing them in well.

If you try it, please let me know how it comes out for you.  Next up on the ice cream circuit:  peach.  We are off to go camping overnight so it will have to wait until at least later in the week.  We do have to get through this batch first, although I can’t imagine that will take very long.