Who Doesn’t Love Great Ice Cream?
We eat ice cream throughout the entire year. It doesn’t matter what the outside temperature happens to be, ice cream is a constant. And while I have my favorite brands and flavors, I also love to make my own.
My son, Devin, started tinkering with homemade ice cream several years ago and finally came up with what I think is the best ice cream base recipe. It’s a combination of ingredients and techniques which comprises elements from recipes by Milk Street, Jeni Britton Bauer, etc. And while we commonly change out the amounts and types of sweeteners, flavorings, etc., we never change the addition of crème fraîche. It is the game changer where homemade ice creams are concerned.
Besides contributing to the exceptionally creamy texture, it also adds a tanginess to the flavor that sets the ice cream apart from any that I can purchase. So, when I get a craving for this, we make it ourselves. And because homemade crème fraîche is so easy to make, I seem to most always have some on hand. Just add a couple tablespoons of buttermilk to a cup of heavy cream, stir, cover loosely, and let sit at room temperature for anywhere from 12 to 36 hours until it’s nice and thick and tangy. That’s all there is to it.
This time around I wanted to serve a small scoop with a tart I was making and decided that orange and chocolate were called for. I always keep strips of candied orange peel in my freezer, so that was a no brainer. And because I was going to have chunks of chocolate in the ice cream I didn’t want chunks of anything else. So, I cut the candied peel into very thin slivers. I wanted them to more or less meld into the ice cream. I also added a couple tablespoons of Grand Marnier because it just made sense. Grand Marnier has such deep and nuanced flavors, it seemed like a perfect addition.
I don’t know if you’ve ever added a chopped bar of chocolate to a frozen dessert, but if you have, then you know what I’m talking about when I say it doesn’t produce a very good result. When frozen, the chocolate has a graininess that’s very unappealing and it’s flavor is weird. You almost can’t deduce any real chocolate flavor. Instead, you have rock hard bits of almost flavorless and grainy chocolate.
I did a little research and came upon an article by the great Alice Medrich in which she explains what’s happening. The problem is that chocolate bars are tempered in order to prevent them from melting at room temperature and that’s why you end up with the unappealing texture and lack of flavor when they’re frozen. She says that ice cream manufacturers solve this problem by adding coconut oil to the chocolate, but this dilutes the chocolate and makes it taste cheap.
The easy fix is to destroy the temper of the chocolate by first melting it, spreading it out thinly and freezing it before chopping it up and adding it to the ice cream. This results in hard bits of chocolate that shatter when you bite into them and instantly melt from the temperature inside your mouth, which provides you with a big burst of chocolate flavor. This added a step to my ice cream recipe, but it’s an easy one. I simply melted the chocolate in my microwave, spread it on a parchment lined small sheet pan and put it in the freezer until I needed it.
Well, what’s the outcome? Orange and chocolate are a classic combination for an obvious reason. They play extremely well together. Add them to a creamy and tangy ice cream base, along with the Grand Marnier, and you’ve got one helluva great ice cream. That step of melting and freezing the chocolate bar? Yeah, it worked perfectly and was just as she described. Biting into those chocolate shards is heavenly. They melt on contact and contribute greatly to the overall specialness of this ice cream. I will most definitely be making it again, as we’ve now deemed it a favorite.
This looks fantastic. Would it work with simple syrup or commercial golden syrup instead of corn syrup? (The fructose in corn syrup is a problem for my gut.)
Hi, Anne. I’ve used honey many times with great success in the base recipe. I wouldn’t use simply syrup as the viscosity is very different. Golden syrup would also work, if the flavor is what you’d like. Please let me know how you like it if you give it a try. Thank you!