Chocolate Ice Cream Addendum

I made another batch with the recipe from the last post, this time with Michel Cluizel Plantation Los Anconès chocolate, along with the Cluizel cocoa powder. This was an intense trip. I’ve always loved this chocolate, but never knew quite what to do with it, besides, of course, just eating it. It has an unusual and intense flavor profile, full of wood and liquorice and dark fruits and green olives. Please trust me that this is better than it sounds. It’s rather magical, actually, although I’ve thought it might be a little overwhelming to people in large quantities in desserts. It’s one thing to know you’ve just bought an expensive and unusual candy bar; it’s another thing to be blindsided at the dinner table.

The verdict? I like it. Better than any chocolate ice cream I’ve had before. Your mileage may vary. The origin flavor is muted somewhat by the cocoa powder, which provides more straight-ahead, dark intensity, but less of a three-dimensional flavor experience. The olives and wood and smoke and spices are present, but in the background.
I want more. If they ever make a Los Anconès cocoa powder, I’d love to try this origin undiluted.

Temperature Notes

With this or any ice cream made with real chocolate, pay close attention to serving temperature. Let it warm up to the point that it feels soft against the edge of a spoon before serving. If the ice cream’s near freezer temperatures, the cocoa butter will take too long to melt in the mouth and you’ll get slow flavor release. This means muted flavors, and the impression of a watery melt. Which is a shame, considering there’s over $8 US chocolate in a quart of this stuff, and that’s when you buy by the kilogram. If you want your guests to taste an explosion of chocolate, and to experience a rich and creamy melt, slow down and let the ice cream soften all the way through.

Cocoa Butter Tempering

Here’s a thought worth exploring. If you’ve ever used chocolate for enrobing or candy making, you’re familiar with the idea of tempering—a process of timed heat treatment used to produce chocolate with a shiny, dry finish and a melting point that’s close to body temperature. If you melt chocolate and let it harden on its own, you get something much different from this.

What’s going on here? Cocoa butter, which provides the solid structure of chocolate, can in exist in any of five crystalline states called polymorphs or “forms,” each with different melting points and other qualities.

Form V. is what chocolatiers aim for. We’re not looking for gloss and snap in ice cream; we’re looking for the softest, fastest melting cocoa butter. With gradual cooling of the ice cream mix after cooking, we probably get Form IV. This has the advantage of melting point over 6°C lower than that of a chocolate bar.
But if we chill the hot mix rapidly in an ice water bath (which should be standard practice, but can be challenging with large quantities) the cocoa butter may crystalize into Form I or II, with a significantly lower melting point?
I don’t know if this will make any difference in an ice cream recipe. Cocoa butter behaves differently when it’s in a simple dispersion with cocoa solids than when it’s in a more complex emulsion or blended with other fats. I’m presenting this information because I haven’t seen it addressed elsewhere. If you know anything, or if you’re interested in experimenting, please get in touch.
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  1. Hi, I've really enjoyed this series, and it's helped me reach an ice cream nirvana I never imagined possible!

    I was wondering if any posts on fruit flavour were on the way, as the added water content fruit brings seems to present a new set of challengesReply

    • Stay tuned. I'm planning to work on fruit flavors (including sorbets) this spring and summer.Reply

  2. Hey Paul,

    I have been reading your posts a lot and I really appreciate the knowledge and insight you share. I have been learning a lot and I am glad that I came across your blog. I wanted to ask if I would be able to print out your Ice-cream series for myself to properly work through it and mark a few things and make comments etc. Would you be alright with that?Reply

  3. Are there any good books on ice cream science you recommend? I just purchased a Lello 4080.Reply

    • I haven't found any great books specifically on ice cream science. In most that I've encountered, the science is a bit superficial, and the detailed information is on practical issues you'd encounter when making ice cream industrially.Of all the generally ice cream books, my favorite so far is Corvitto's Segreti del Gelato. You may find a bilingual edition in PDF floating around the web. He doesn't get very deep into the science either, but he addresses the practical concerns of artisanal ice cream better than most.Enjoy your Lello!Reply

  4. Have you ever freezed your unspinned ice cream base for a few weeks, then melt it, spin it and freeze it like a regular base? I made few ice cream base, but my ice m cream machine broke down and it will take few weeks till I get it back in action..

    Does freezing and melting affect some how in texture?Reply

    • This might work, but it usually doesn't work well. The freeze-thaw cycle damages many of the components of ice cream, including milk fat globules, egg custard protein networks, and stabilizer networks. It's likely that the ice cream won't have the texture you're expecting, and might not whip up very well. Professionals never do this; it raises food safety concerns and might violate health codes.Reply

  5. This is very interesting and something to consider. I have been making vegan ice cream using cocoa butter as part of the base. I have not noticed any difference when cooled differently but I will pay closer attention.Reply

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