However, the thought of making an ice cream with a custard base did not sound remotely appetizing. The extra work of tempering and heating the egg/cream mixture along with the richness that the eggs impart to the ice cream just seemed too heavy for such a hot day. So I set out to make this ice cream from Alice Medrich. Oh Alice, I never should have doubted you! She was correct in describing this ice cream as somewhat "icy". But not in a bad way, in a completely satisfying way. It is icy and creamy at the same time.
The cream mixture is simmered and left to infuse with cacao nibs. Cacao nibs are the roasted, shelled cacao beans broken into bite-sized pieces. They are the raw material from which all chocolate is made. Nibs have a nutty flavor and are very crunchy. They are the essence of pure chocolate. I use them often in baking, so the notion of infusing their flavor into cream intrigued me.
The flavor is beguiling. I'm not sure that you would be able to say what it was if you didn't know. It definitely tastes like chocolate, but a whisper of chocolate. It is delicate and totally delicious.
Cocoa Nib Ice Cream
adapted from Pure Dessert
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/3 cup cocoa nibs
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
Bring the cream, milk, nibs, sugar and salt to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Remove from the heat, cover, and let steep for 20 minutes.
Pour the cram mixture through a fine strainer, pressing on the nibs to extract their liquid, discard the nibs. Refrigerate at least 4 but preferably 12 hours. Freeze the mixture according to the instructions on your ice cream maker.
makes 3 1/2 cups.
I bought some cherries at the farmer's market, and they were the perfect complement to the cacao nib ice cream. I just pitted them, tossed them with some sugar and brandy, and let them macerate for a couple of hours. The cherries became slightly softened and juicy, but retained their fresh character.
Fresh Cherry Compote
1 pound of cherries
2-4 tablespoons sugar (depending on sweetness of cherries)
1/2 tablespoon kirsch or brandy
Remove the pits from the cherries. Toss the cherries in a bowl with the sugar and brandy. Let the cherries macerate for at least an hour. They will release their juices and soften a bit.