I don’t really like chocolate, and I’m okay with that. Most people I know aren’t. They insist that I’m either lying or delusional, or more likely, both–whatever it is, not loving chocolate is considered inherently suspicious. I, on the other hand use it to justify the many things that I do like (butter, lamb meat, large quantities, sometimes all of those, together–and much more). “Hmm, a fourth serving of sticky rice seems a little bit piggy, but hey, everyone ELSE had chocolate,” I say to myself.
As is the case with every rule (or mild declaration, in this case), there is an exception. This ice cream, made with rich Mexican chocolate and dried local peppers, elevates the dessert game. After-dinner meals so often shy away from bold declarations, choosing to float richly, into an easy chair of fat and sugar. Not this one. It stands up, drawing to its full height, then lifts a wooden stool overhead and smashes it to the floor, scattering splinters all around. Chocolate and spice together hit the trend-o-meter a few years back, cheap cocoa mixes were peppered (pun intended) with grocery-store ground cayenne until finally people realized that the spice was covering up the taste of their precious chocolate. Here, the spice hangs back, it lets you enjoy the rich, creamy chocolate, then, just when you swallow your spoonful and think you’ve finished your bite, it bites you back. At first, its just a nip, like a chihuahua puppy looking for attention. By the end of your first scoop, the burn has built–but with each bite, the cool ice cream heals, like aloe on a sunburn, then begs for more…and more…until you find yourself making a second batch not more than three days after the first.
- 2.5 Cups Milk
- 1 Cup Cream, divided
- 250 grams of Mexican chocolate (see note below)
- 2 Whole eggs
- 3 Egg yolks (additional)
- 5 dried chiles (Chiles de Arbol are easy to find and will work perfectly)
- 5 tsp. Salt
- 5 tsp. Vanilla extract
- Add the milk and the first half of the cream to a medium saucepan, along with the peppers and heat it over medium-low heat, stirring frequently.
- Crush the chocolate for easy melting and add it to the milk mixture when it is hot (about 5-7 minutes)
- Keep stirring the whole mixture for another 5 minutes, and until you are sure that the chocolate is all melted.
- Whisk the eggs and yolks together in a medium sized bowl, then continue whisking as you ladle small amounts of the milk mixture into the eggs. After two ladlefuls, whisk this mixture into the rest of the milk and chocolate.
- Keep heating this, continuing to stir, until it thickens–a thermometer should say about 165 degrees.
- Set the other cup of cream, the salt and the vanilla extract in a bowl–over an ice bath if you wish to cool it down quicker.
- Strain the hot chocolate mixture into the cool cream, stirring, if you have a spare hand.
- Chill for 6-10 hours before churning (according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.
**If you can’t find Mexican chocolate in a local store, this stuff on Amazon should work perfectly well!