Another treat for chocolate lovers. It’s easy to make and it’s one ice cream that doesn’t need a professional machine to make it creamy and smooth. The chocolate does that easily.
Stuck in the middle of my copy of Gaston Lenôtre’s inspiring and beautifully detailed Lenôtre’s Ice Creams and Pastries, is a sheet of yellow copy paper, a legacy of the way newspapers used to be before gizmos and whizzos became all the new generation knows and understands. Scribbled across the top are the words ‘Perfect (though rich) chocolate parfait’. I call on this recipe but occasionally, because every time I make it I eat so much of the irresistible combination of chocolate and ice cream, chocolate mousse and chocolate souffle, I can hardly walk for a couple of days. It’s the sort of dessert you take by the spoonful, swirl around your mouth, and return to for more and more and more. It’s the dessert equivalent of strawberry daiquiris. ‘Hey,’ you say, ‘one more can’t hurt me, can it?’ Then you stand up. Then you fall down. I’m like this with most things to do with chocolate. I love it, but leave it, knowing well that it and I are not the best of lovers. I go at it with a gusto, and the next morning I have this bad taste in my guts and swear I’ll never do it again. But then, you know how it is. You start dreaming of chocolate again, and all your values are thrown out the window, and you gorge yourself, you’re overcome with guilt, and time passes … and there you go again.
If you intend to take this dessert sensibly, it is important to balance its richness with something acidic, something sharp, to assist in the eating process. That sounds like a formula for gluttony, but it is really about enhancing the star, rather than finding more room for it in your tummy.
The true believers in chocolate need nothing to diffuse its richness, and can take chocolate in large volumes, and never suffer for it, never feel guilty about it, and are still in love with it the next morning. This is really for them – a chocolate mousse ice cream, based on a recipe from Lenôtre’s Ice Creams and Pastries.
300 g dark chocolate – I use Small’s Club chocolate.
2 cups (600 mL) cream
200 g sugar
6 egg yolks
1 cap (that’s cap not cup!) peppermint essence or 1 bunch of peppermint (optional)
raspberries, to serve
a splash of brandy, rum, whisky or whatever strong drink takes your fancy (double optional)
pear or apple puree, to serve
Melt the chocolate with a little of the cream over a low heat. Set aside in a warm place.
Divide the sugar in two, and add half to one cup of the cream and half to the egg yolks.
Whip the yolks with the sugar for a few minutes, until the yolks change to a light, creamy colour, and leave ribbons trailing from the whisk.
Heat the cream and sugar mix with the peppermint essence or peppermint leaves, thus flavouring the cream with the peppermint. (This is clearly optional, but gives a lovely sweet/ sharp flavour amidst the mass of chocolate and cream. Peppermint and chocolate, as thousands of restaurateurs who leave such with your coffee will tell you, are marvellous partners. You can also use orange zest, and plenty of it, as a flavourer if you wish. Or nothing at all.)
Bring the cream and peppermint mix to the boil, and then allow to cool a little. If you have used real peppermint, drain through a sieve and discard the leaves. Pour half of this peppermint cream into the yolk and sugar mix, whisking furiously, and then pour it back into the remaining peppermint cream, stirring over a low heat.
If you have a sugar thermometer, use it now to bring the temperature of the custard slowly, slowly, slowly to 80°C. This can be a little tricky, and you must keep stirring in a figure- eight motion to make sure the heat is gentle and regularly applied. Take care the egg yolks do not cook, and remember the mixture will continue to cook from the heat of the pot. While the custard is cooking, pour the melted chocolate into a large bowl.
Strain the custard through a sieve over the chocolate, and whisk for a few minutes to draw down the heat. Allow to cool until the mixture is somewhere around blood temperature.
While the chocolate mix is cooling, whisk the rest of the cream until it stiffens and has expanded in volume. It should be of roughly the same consistency as the chocolate mixture.
Fold the cream, a third at a time, into the chocolate mixture. Pour the lot into a cold bowl, and place in the freezer to freeze.
Serve a little of the parfait with a lot of raspberries and, if you’re a true Bohemian eater, take a good shot of very good brandy, or dark dark rum, in between mouthfuls of chocolate. On side, try a purée of pears or apples, cooked with a little syrup until softened, and then pureed. This and the berries will lighten the load of chocolate.
When making ice cream you might be tempted to add a good shot of brandy, rum, whisky or something like all of those to the mix as you are folding cream and chocolate together. The addition of alcohol will affect the freezing of the mix. It will now be much less firm, and if you are intending to unmould and serve the chocolate parfait as a centrepiece at a dinner party, then the addition of the alcohol might not be such a hot idea. However, if you intend to leave the parfait in repose in the freezer, to be visited with a large spoon, late at night, then splash in the grog.
WINE: Why not a glass of great Australian brandy – not the cheap stuff, the top shelf. There are still a few makers who produce some gems.