Kitchenware shops seem to have a commanding pull on my person and my purse. I don’t really protest too much when my feet unconsciously direct me through their doors but The Scotsman would. At least, he would if he know just how frequently it happens. In this case, what he doesn’t know, won’t kill him!
I browse kitchenware shops slowly, carefully, taking in all their stock, registering what I want to purchase in the future, and seeing how much I can get away with buying at that very moment. I am currently on first name basis with the obliging staff at Tavola, where they sell everything from Mauviel (whimper), Kitchen aids, Global, Henckels, ASA, Alessi to Wilton, Silverwood, Nordicware, Le Creuset, Jamie Oliver and Silikomart to name a few. I spied these ice cream moulds made by Silikomart and they have various shapes and sizes in their Easy Cream series of products. I got myself the classic mould and promptly set out to make one of the parfait style recipes in the booklet that came with it. They were a resounding success. I have since, typically, lost the booklet, but miraculously retained a vague idea of quantities and methods. So, one morning, I winged it and it worked! I now pass it on to you.
Oh, just want to mention – these Chocolove 55 percent bars are the ones I used for this recipe. I can’t find any of the lower percentages and I am not a milk chocolate fan. The Green & Black chocolates, I find, have quite a fruity element and I use those, when I have incorporated a fruit puree into the whipped cream. With the Chocolove, there is a real nut flavour that comes through, and it married perfectly with the final nut coating I did on the bars. They also, in a kitschy-cute manner, come with a poem enclosing the heart embossed bars. Can you not imagine a handsome boy handing over a bar of this to his blushing sweetheart? Aww. Never happens.
Back to business….
And this, is what you get…..
Listen, I have to tell you now – Don’t expect these to be as unnaturally soft set as the commercial lollies. I say unnatural, because ‘stuff’ is added to trap air and keep it airy and on-the-verge-of-melting soft. This ‘stuff’ in essence are various gums and stabilisers, designed to trap air and keep it trapped, which is difficult in a home environment, if not almost impossible. Personally, I prefer a little more licking time with no nasties. The creamy yet light, vanilla infused filling is sheer indulgence against the crackly dark chocolate and along with the bite of the pistachios and almonds, makes for a delicious mouthful.
Things to note :
Do not whip the cream brutally. Firstly, you risk making butter before you could even say toast. Whisk carefully, you want volume and airiness, and the cream should hold soft peaks. Any more, and I find the ice cream part, makes for a harder bite.
You have to make sure that you freeze the filled mould for at least four-five hours, so that when it comes to coating with the chocolate, it will instantly freeze over the ice-cream, rather than the cream melting due to the heat of the chocolate.
When it comes to chocolate, the bitter 70 percent and higher ones are not advisable. The freezing renders whatever little sweetness there is non existent. A 40-55 percent chocolate is good to use in this case, for a dark chocolate hit while retaining sweetness.
It’s not about perfection here. My coated lollies came out lumpy and bumpy and probably with too thick a coating, but I don’t care. These are delicious. You would get a smoother surface, if you melt at least three bars of chocolate, and have a long enough tumbler whereby you can dip in the lolly, in one neat move. I don’t and have to resort to using zip lock bags. Also, technically, you need only one bar of melted chocolate to cover four of these bars. I would rather have the cellulite look in this case, than waste expensive bars. However, should you want perfection, and have loads of melted chocolate left over, I have the perfect recipe at the end, to use it up.
You could go nuts with this recipe, pun included. Consider folding in a raspberry puree into the semifreddo and coating with melting white chocolate. Coconut is never far from my mind either – homemade ice cream Bounty bars, now that’s an idea! Caramel swirled into the cream…need I say more.
Also, there is such amazing variety of flavoured chocolate, the proper stuff. I have made bars using chocolate with a hint of chilli, the ones with raspberries in them with the fruit puree mixed into the cream. In these cases, I also up the sugar content of the recipe too as these bars are usually darker. If you are going to go the caramel route, dust your bars with sea salt. If mint and chocolate is your thing (and I struggle to appreciate it), feel free to give that a shot too. Just don’t let me know about that one.
Here’s a bonus. Should you be left with around half a cup of melted chocolate after coating the bars, this recipe makes perfect use of it – Chocobites.
For half a cup of chocolate – toast 150gm of nuts of your choice, chop roughly and mix with the chocolate. It might feel like there isn’t enough liquid to bind it, but have faith. I have sometimes, put in half a teaspoon of liqueur in the mix too. Chopped cranberries, cherries or dried raspberries work exceedingly well. Spoon tablespoon sized mounds onto a lined baking tray and place in the fridge to set. I topped some of them with the praline mix I had made for the toffee cake. In about an hour, you will have a pretty healthy little treat. There is no added sugar, chocolates are packed with anti oxidants and we all know the benefits of nuts. These craggly mounds, make charming hostess gifts too. The leftover egg white from the ice cream can be put to good use by baking these super easy macaroons. Or just bag them and freeze to use another day.
All in all, this has been an utterly satisfying thing to make. My children think I am a genius and I am not going to dispel that myth for a while yet. In the meantime, compliments and consumption of vegetables are rewarded with ice-cream lollies, sans nasties. Tis all good!
For Ice Cream Bar recipe, click here
Lil Choccie Bites
50 gm melted chocolate (40-55% cocoa solids)
150 gm of toasted, roughly chopped nuts
Optional ideas to be added to taste
1/4 tsp of extract of choice
Replace some of the weight of the nut with dried fruit, such as cranberries or cherries.
A dash of liqueur of choice, kirsch,
Praline to sprinkle over
Mix all the ingredients together, including any of the optional items. Drop tablespoon sized lumps on to a lined baking sheet. Place in the fridge to set.
This is best eaten at room temperature, if the weather permits.
Ice Cream Bars
2 large egg yolk (36gm)
25g caster sugar (add more if you want it sweeter)
170g of double/heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
200gm of good quality 40-55% cocoa solid chocolate bars, broken into pieces
2 handfuls of toasted, chopped nuts of your choice. Hazelnut and almonds are my favourites
Optional ideas to be added to taste
2-3 tablespoons of melted chocolate, depending on how chocolatey you want it.
2-3 tbsp of raspberry puree OR
1/2 tsp of any extract, such as coffee, orange or coconut OR
1-2 tbsp of dulce de leche
Whisk the cream in a clean, grease-free bowl, until it has thickened and can hold soft peaks. Set aside.
Place a little water in a saucepan and bring to simmering point. Place a heat proof bowl over the pan, making sure that the water does NOT touch the bowl. Put in the egg yolks and the sugar and start whisking. Continue to whisk, until the sugar has melted and the yolk turns pale and doubles in volume.
Take the bowl off the heat and fold the billowy sweetened yolk into the whipped cream, along with the vanilla extract. If you want to make this into chocolate creams, add a couple of tablespoons of melted chocolate to the cream and fold till thoroughly combined. Or if there are any other adds in, fold them in now.
Spoon into lolly moulds, insert the sticks and place in the freezer for at least four to five hours.
Toast and chop the nuts and lay flat on a greaseproof paper.
When the freezing time is up, melt the chocolate. You want the chocolate to be quite runny, but take care it doesn’t overheat and seize. If it does, you have to chuck it and start again!
You can either place the melted chocolate in a tall tumbler, wide enough for you to dip the entire lolly while being able to keep a good grip on it or you can place it in a large zip lock/freezer bag, placed over the mouth of a tall glass to copy the same effect. The second option won’t be quite as neat. Just do the best you can and spoon over chocolate on any naked parts.
Dip quickly and roll onto the nuts. Set aside on the greaseproof sheet to set and return to the freezer for a few minutes and it’s ready to eat!