(Sp)icy Cool: Mexican Chocolate Ice Cream

By Jeannette Ordas of Everybody likes Sandwiches

Having just returned from a 3 week holiday, the first thing I wanted when I returned home was ice cream - I obviously did not get my fill in NYC! I had been browsing through a new cookbook when I stumbled upon an easy recipe for Mexican chocolate ice cream. The amazing thing about the recipe was that it didn't call for eggs or cream or even cornstarch as a thickener. It was straightforward as all get out and I was intrigued by its simplicity.

A few years ago, finding Mexican chocolate was a bit difficult in Vancouver, but now (maybe because I know where to look), it's available in a few stores around town (I get mine at the Gourmet Warehouse). Mexican chocolate comes in round hard tablets and is quite granular because of the added sugar. It tastes of cinnamon but sometimes there are other spices included as well - nutmeg and all-spice are common. In Mexico, these tablets are often used to make hot chocolate and when I first started buying Ibarra chocolate (the brand I can find most easily here in Vancouver) it was just for that purpose. I've since branched out and use it in savory chilis and baking.

The resulting ice cream was silky smooth and sweet but not cloying. Really, how can you go wrong with cinnamon and chocolate? I think if you wanted to up the ante, adding in a spoonful of aleppo pepper or a pinch of cayenne would work well for a spicy version. If you can't find Mexican chocolate, use good dark chocolate instead and simmer it with a stick or two of cinnamon and maybe some all-spice pods or a pinch of nutmeg. Discard the spices when the mixture has cooled.

Mexican Chocolate Ice Cream
(adapted from Heart of the Artichoke by David Tanis)

8 oz Mexican chocolate (equals 2 discs of Mexican chocolate + about 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips)*
1 teaspoon organic ground cinnamon
1/2 cup organic sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups whole milk (3.25% homogenized)

Chop the Mexican chocolate as finely as you can and dump it into a medium saucepan, along with the cinnamon, sugar and salt. Pour in the milk and warm until everything is well dissolved, whisking occasionally. Strain the liquid to remove any solids and let the chocolate mixture cool. Place in the fridge for 4 hours or overnight.

Churn the mixture in your ice cream maker for about 20-25 minutes and then transfer to a lidded container to freeze.

* I found that 2 discs of Mexican chocolate was just shy of 8oz so I topped up to 8oz with some dark chocolate chips rather than chopping up another disc.

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