Mexican Chocolate Ice Cream
There is one image from my childhood that is seared into memory, that of the yellow octagonal box of Mexican chocolate on the top shelf of our kitchen pantry. I can still remember my mother making pots of hot chocolate for us, and even using a Mexican chocolate stirrer to beat up the hot chocolate until it was frothy. What makes Mexican chocolate different from regular chocolate? The cinnamon. That’s the distinctive flavor. With this ice cream recipe you can skip all of the little extras – coffee, vanilla, chili, and as long as you keep the cinnamon, you will have an ice cream that tastes just like Mexican hot chocolate.
I’ve made the ice cream both using Ibarra chocolate and using regular chocolate with added cinnamon. Both work fine, though if you use regular chocolate, you can have more control over the quality of the actual chocolate, and the bitterness level (I like bittersweet).
If you have access to Ibarra Mexican chocolate you can use this instead of the semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate and cinnamon called for in the recipe. Use about 1 disk and 2 triangles of the chocolate. After heating with the cream, blend in a blender. Do not add any additional cinnamon as there is enough in the Ibarra.
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1 cup milk
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 4 ounces bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- Pinch salt
- Pinch cayenne
- Pinch espresso powder (or instant coffee)
- 6 egg yolks, lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 Tbsp brandy (optional)
1 Heat one cup of cream in a small saucepan (1 qt). Whisk in cocoa powder. Bring to a simmer. Whisk until cocoa powder is well incorporated. Remove pot from heat. Stir in chocolate until completely incorporate.
2 Put mixture into a metal bowl and add the remaining cup of cream. Set that bowl over a larger bowl half-filled with ice water to help cool it down. Place a mesh sieve over the bowl with the chocolate mixture.
3 Put one cup of milk, the sugar, cinnamon, salt, cayenne, espresso powder (or instant coffee) into a saucepan and heat until steamy (not boiling), stirring to incorporate the spices and dissolve the sugar. Place egg yolks in a medium sized bowl. Slowly pour the heated milk and mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly so that the egg yolks are tempered by the heated milk, but not cooked by it. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.
4 Stir the milk egg mixture constantly over medium heat with a wooden spoon, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spoon so that you can run your finger across the coating and have the coating not run. This can take anywhere from 3 to 10 minutes, depending on how hot your burner is.
If the custard base doesn't coat the back of the spoon, it's not ready.
The custard base coats the back of the spoon.
5 As soon as the mixture coats the spoon, remove it from the heat and immediately pour it over the mesh sieve into the bowl of the chocolate cream mixture. (The sieve is there to catch any curdled bits.) Stir into the cream mixture.
6 Add a teaspoon of vanilla. Let the mixture cool a bit in the ice bath and then chill in the refrigerator until completely chilled, a couple hours or overnight. Right before churning, add 2 Tbsp of brandy to the mix. This is an optional step, but it will help keep the ice cream from getting too icy if it is stored beyond a day. If you are planning on eating the ice cream the same day you make it, you can skip this step.
7 Churn the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Store ice cream in an airtight container in your freezer for several hours before eating. The ice cream will be quite soft coming out of the ice cream maker, but will continue harden in your freezer. If you store it for more than a day, you may need to let it sit for a few minutes to soften before attempting to scoop it.