Dark Chocolate Espresso Ice Cream

You know those people that hate raw tomatoes but love tomato sauce? Or hate avocado on its own, but love guacamole? Or those people that hate drinking any kind of coffee drink, but adore coffee flavoured desserts? I'm one of those coffee people.

I'm serious about this. The only time I have ever had a coffee was in Paris when I was 14 and I thought I was being really trendy. I thought I was unbelievably cool, drinking my café au lait at 7am in a little cafe on the bank of the Seine River. I didn't like the taste of it at all, despite the 4 packets of sugar I put in each one. And I still don't like coffee now. I used to work in a coffee shop, which made me love the smell of coffee beans, but still dislike coffee. A lot.

It's because coffee doesn't taste like it smells. Coffee beans smell delicious, I could sniff them all day long. I even love the sound they make when you scoop them, I still remember it clearly from my coffee shop days. Brewing coffee smells delicious. Brewed coffee smells delicious. Coffee does not taste delicious. It's watery, bitter, thin, and just an overall let down. A disappointment. 

That's where chocolate comes in. The taste of chocolate is equal, if not better, than the smell. The feel of chocolate in your mouth may even be better than the taste, dare I say it. It's an all around win. So, you combine rich, dark, somewhat bitter chocolate with cream and sugar, then throw in a generous portion of freshly brewed espresso (none of that powdered stuff here, folks) and you've got a taste that matches the smell that matches the mouthfeel. 

You can use whatever percentage of dark chocolate you wish. I used a 2:1 mix of 83% and 90%, just to add a little more depth of flavour. Personally, I kind of like 90% dark chocolate. Even though the texture isn't as smooth and creamy as milk chocolate, the flavour is crazy intense and deep. If that's not your thing, go for the 73%. It won't be bitter, but it will still have the great flavour of dark chocolate. Just be sure to use a good quality dark chocolate.

Dark Chocolate Espresso Ice Cream
Recipe adapted from Dahlia Bakery Cookbook

170 grams (6 ounces) dark chocolate (73-90%), roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
6 tablespoons fresh espresso
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Place the chocolate in a large bowl and place a fine-mesh sieve over top. In a small bowl, combine the egg yolks, brown sugar, and cocoa powder and whisk until slightly paler in colour. Set aside.

Combine 3/4 cup of the milk with the cream in a saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and slowly add a ladleful of the hot milk-cream mixture to the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Pour the warmed egg yolk mixture back into the saucepan with the milk and cream and return to medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Immediately remove the saucepan from the heat and pour through the sieve set over the bowl of chopped chocolate. Allow it to sit for 1 full minute to melt the chocolate, then use a rubber spatula to stir the mixture until smooth.

When the mixture is smooth, add the remaining 3/4 cup of milk, vanilla extract, espresso, and salt. Stir to combine. Place the bowl of custard over an ice bath to chill it quickly. When the mixture is completely cool, cover the surface of the custard with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 2 hours or preferably overnight.

Churn and freeze the chilled custard according to your ice cream maker's instructions. Transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and freeze until firm, a few hours or overnight, before serving.