Monday, June 16, 2008

German Chocolate Cake Ice Cream... Almost

You know what's hard to photograph? Ice cream. Even after you prep and do everything in your power short of shooting it IN the freezer, it just gives up on you and starts to melt in mere minutes. With this particular ice cream, it was SECONDS. I even froze the stuff in the shape of scoops so there was no lag between the freezer and my shots but still. It started breaking down about twenty seconds in. Prissy friggin' food.

Other than the prima donna act it gave me in front of the camera, this flavor really delivered. I got the chocolate base from Williams-Sonoma and had to modify it only superficially: I had no half-and-half so I substituted half milk and half cream (theoretically, half and half from scratch). They weren't kidding about it being rich. And after cooking the custard over the heat so there was no raw egg situation, I felt extremely comfortable licking the bowl of chocolate custard and dipping brownie in the creamy stuff as well. Mmmm. Chocolate 'splosion.

When I envisioned this flavor, I was aiming for German Chocolate cake. Then after I got home from the store, I remembered there are pecans in the caramel coconut part. Oh well. It came out just fine. The only complaint I'd have against the stuff is that the caramel is very sweet and the ice cream is very rich. It makes for an intense flavor. But some people like very sweet/very rich a lot so it's just up to personal tastes, really.

I was rather pleased with making the brownies and caramel sauce myself. It felt good to look at the final product and know I made every bit from scratch. This, from a novice cook, that is. I mean, watching the caramel come to a boil? Terrifying. I just knew it was going to burn the second I looked away. (So I never looked away.)

I've encountered a few issues with ice cream, though.

#1. It doesn't give you immediate results. I'm used to baking something and having it ready to eat right then. This, you go through all the work and then? Put it away (to freeze completely). It's somewhat unsatisfying.

#2. It's not portable. If the stuff melts only minutes out of the freezer, imagine a ten, fifteen or twenty minute car ride to someone's house! So people have to come to IT (again, with the prissy nature). It makes it difficult to get to family and friends.

However, my love of creating personal flavors outweighs any faults the cooking process may have. I see pistachio and then banana on the horizon...

Source: cicada77 at

1/2 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease an 8x8 inch square pan.

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, butter and water. Cook over medium heat until boiling. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate chips until melted and smooth. Mix in the eggs and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; stir into the chocolate mixture. Spread evenly into the prepared pan.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until brownies set up. Do not overbake! Cool in pan.

After completely cool, cut out 1/4 of pan and freeze. When hard, cut into 1 inch cubes (roughly 1 cup of chunks) and refreeze until ready to use.

Adapted from Gourmet, Nov 1998

1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
7 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 - 1 cup shredded coconut

In a 3-quart heavy saucepan boil sugar, corn syrup, water, and a pinch salt over moderate heat, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Boil mixture, without stirring, gently swirling pan, until a deep golden caramel. Remove pan from heat and carefully pour cream and vanilla down side of pan (mixture will vigorously steam and caramel will harden). Simmer mixture, stirring, until caramel is dissolved. Remove pan from heat, add coconut and cool caramel. Caramel swirl may be made 1 week ahead and chilled, covered. Bring caramel swirl to room temperature before using. (If caramel swirl is too stiff to pour, heat slightly.)

Adapted from Williams Sonoma

1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups whole milk
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
(about 1 1/3 cups)
5 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract

In a saucepan over medium heat, warm the heavy cream and milk until bubbles form around the edges of the pan. Remove from the heat, add the chocolate and stir until smooth and blended.

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and salt until blended. Slowly add the chocolate cream, whisking constantly until fully incorporated.

Pour the mixture into a bowl on top of a double boiler. Set the pan over but not touching simmering water in the bottom pan. Cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until a finger drawn across the back of the spoon leaves a path, 10 to 12 minutes; do not allow the custard to boil. Pour the custard through a fine-mesh sieve set over a clean bowl and stir in the vanilla. Nestle the bowl in a larger one filled halfway with ice and water. Cool the custard, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.

Transfer the custard to an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. Just before ice cream is finished churning, add brownie chunks and stir in completely. Transfer one third ice cream to an airtight container and drizzle one third caramel swirl over it. Repeat layering with remaining ice cream and caramel swirl. Cover and freeze until firm, 3 to 4 hours, before serving. Makes about 1 quart.


Megan said...

That looks like killer ice cream!!!

Patricia Scarpin said...

Niki, I think you did an amazing job - your photos are breathtaking! I can only imagine you running around with ice cream, camera, etc. Poor you! The results paid off beautifully, though.;)

Love this flavor - and I'm a bit impatient like you. I have had my tongue burned a million times because I can't wait for baked goods to cool down before I try them. :D

Bextera said...

I heard that in the food industry they use mashed potato when they need to photograph ice cream as otherwise it melts ridiculously quickly under the lights. I'm not sure how you get the textures so perfectly though. Or maybe that's just an urban myth.