Dark Chocolate Peppermint Bark Ice Cream

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There isn’t much I can say about the chocolate/peppermint combo that hasn’t already been said before.

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But don’t worry; I won’t let that stop me. We can’t all be leaders. (And sometimes, it pays to be a follower, especially when the topic at hand is this delicious.)

As the weeks fly by and the days creep dangerously close to Christmas, foodie sites both big and small are celebrating the occasion with a variety of mouthwatering choco/mint treats; everything from hot chocolates and candies to cookies and cakes – you name it! And it’s all for very good reason.

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In a word? Chocolate peppermint is perfection; second in my heart only to chocolate and peanut butter. It’s a glorious marriage of dark and light, seductive and sweet. During the holidays, it seems there isn’t a flavor in the world that screams “Christmas!” more loudly than this divine combo. However, I didn’t always feel that way…

Don’t get me wrong; I’ve always enjoyed peppermint bark just as much as the next person, but my experience with choco/mint never really transcended the boundaries of this once-a-year treat. Chocolate peppermint cookies? No thanks. Mint hot chocolate? Nah, I’ll take the salted caramel.

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Truthfully, I didn’t really realize that chocolate and peppermint could make such a fabulous pairing until I had my first Peppermint Mocha from a certain not-so-local coffee chain several years ago. From the first sip, I was hooked, and an entire world of Chocolate Peppermint Possibilities opened up to me.

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(Sheesh. For a girl that loves mint chocolate chip ice cream as much as I do, you’d think I woulda figured it out just a little bit sooner!)

Last year, I started making up for lost time with a peppermint mocha ice cream that I made in honor of my fave seasonal drink. But this year, I was ready to get serious. As in, serious dark chocolate.

I’ve learned through this experience that the key to a great chocolate ice cream is to add so much melted chocolate that you look at your custard base and think, s***, there’s no way this is going to work out. But it does, my friends. It does.

It works out into a glorious, fudgy, hot mess of an ice cream that is the perfect compliment to chunks of sweet peppermint bark. See?

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This was actually my very first time making peppermint bark at home, and the finished product ended up incredibly thick, like…I’m talking brownie thickness (see pic below). When I chopped it up, the white chocolate and semi sweet layers separated, throwing me into a slight panic, but fortunately it all worked out okay in the end – I was SO happy with how this ice cream turned out! My better half said this was his “all time” favorite, a statement that he doesn’t throw around very often. I have to say, this might be my favorite too, which is very exciting considering I had no idea how this was going to come together.

With its dark and fudgy, lightly pepperminted base, and chunks of peppermint bark, this ice cream really hits the spot. I’ll definitely be making it again before the end of the year! If you have some extra bark laying around, why not try it? You’re halfway there already 🙂

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I hope you all have a fabulous holiday this week! Thanks for being awesome.

Be safe, stay warm, and as always, happy scooping 🙂

 

Dark Chocolate Peppermint Bark Ice Cream

Yield: 1 Quart

You will need:

1.5 cups whole milk

1.5 cups heavy cream

¾ cup sugar

Pinch of kosher salt

4 egg yolks

½ cup of high quality unsweetened cocoa powder

4 oz semi sweet chocolate, chopped

2 oz dark chocolate, chopped

1 teaspoon of vanilla

2 teaspoons peppermint extract

½ cup to 1 cup peppermint bark, chopped into small pieces

Directions:

  1. Prepare an ice bath and situate a strainer on top of an empty bowl/container (you’ll need this later).
  2. In a medium sized bowl, whisk the egg yolks until broken, then slowly whisk in the sugar until completely incorporated and mixture is thick (a minute or two). Set aside.
  3. Combine milk, heavy cream, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat until it begins to steam. Remove from heat, then whisk in the cocoa powder until completely dissolved. Then, whisk in the semi sweet and dark chocolates until melted and completely incorporated in the mixture.
  4. Begin to add the warmed chocolate mixture to the egg yolks a little at a time (about ½ a cup), taking care to whisk the eggs constantly to keep them from scrambling. Once all cream has been incorporated into the yolks, place the entire mixture in the sauce pan and return to medium heat, continuing to cook until it thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon (ten minutes or so).
  5. Remove from heat and strain into container or bowl, then submerge in ice bath and stir until cooled. Note: I usually skip this because I’m lazy, but for all you process purists, have at it.
  6. Once cooled, add vanilla and peppermint. (The base shouldn’t be super super minty – just enough to compliment the bark). Refrigerate for a few hours, or preferably, over night.
  7. Freeze mixture in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Add bark during the last minute of churning. Or, when ice cream is finished churning, alternate layers of bark and ice cream for a swirled effect (this is what I did and it turned out great!)
  8. Enjoy!!!

Brown Butter Gingerbread Swirl Ice Cream

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Gingerbread cookies and I have somewhat of a sordid and complicated past.

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After an intense love affair that lasted until the age of 6, my affections for gingerbread calmed significantly as I yearned to explore other, more exciting Christmas cookie options.

Peanut butter blossoms stole my heart for years and years, only to be replaced abruptly with the seductive and mysterious dark chocolate peppermint bark. After that, I went through a brief snickerdoodle phase in college (but mostly because I found that the flavor paired remarkably well with Christmas Ale).

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Lately, I’ve been lusting after simple sugar cookies, but have been unable to commit fully because of those sultry pecan pie cookies hiding back in the corner…

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Through it all, gingerbread cookies have been my safety blanket…my constant. I always demanded that they be included in all my Christmas cookie platters, even if I did just take them for granted, year after year.

There they were, waiting patiently in the wings, while I had my fun with those other cookies.

But at some point, enough is enough, and gingerbread cookies removed themselves from my life (and my cookie plate) completely.

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Now that I’m a little older (and a little wiser), I’ve come to my senses. This year, I decided to rekindle the flame with my first love – simple and delicious gingerbread cookies.

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However, after our first few days reunited, I quickly realized why I strayed in the first place.

Gingerbread cookies are lovely, don’t get me wrong…but they’re just so predictable!

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So, I did what I always do when a food disappoints me in its natural state – I turned it into ice cream.

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I wish I could take all the credit for this recipe, but it was all my husband’s doing, from the gingerbread swirl right down to the brown butter base. I’ve married an ice cream genius, apparently 🙂

This ice cream was my first experience making anything “brown butter” at home, and it was surprisingly simple (although I think I could have let the butter cook just a tad bit longer for a more robust flavor, but my fear of burning the mixture held me back a bit).

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I used a soft gingerbread cookie recipe so that the swirl would retain some moisture and have a more flavorful finish. I baked a batch, and once they were cooled, I pulsed them in my blender until the crumb was uniform and smooth. Then I alternated layers of ice cream and packed cookie crumbs until I reached the top of my storage container. When scooped, it gives a cool swirly effect. As such:

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This ice cream signifies the evolution of my relationship with Gingerbread: we’ve had our ups and downs, but we’re both adults now. And let me tell you – I could most definitely settle down with this heart throb of an ice cream. In fact, we’re kind of exclusive 🙂

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I hope you enjoy this sweet, salty, and spicy holiday treat that is reminiscent of an old favorite, but kicked-up a notch to keep things interesting.

Happy scooping!

Brown Butter Gingerbread Swirl Ice Cream

Base recipe adapted from Epicurious.com

Yield: Approximately 1 Quart

You will need:

6 tablespoons butter (I used salted, of course…but if you respect your palate, you might want to use unsalted)

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup whole milk

6 egg yolks

1/3 cup white sugar

1/3 cup brown sugar

Pinch salt, or to taste

1.5 cups of finely crumbled gingerbread cookies (I used this recipe for soft cookies. Best. Cookies. Ever!)

Directions:

1) In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until it bubbles constantly and turns a medium to dark amber color (about ten minutes). Pour through a strainer into a small bowl and set aside.

2) Combine egg yolks, both sugars, and salt into a medium sized bowl and whisk vigorously (yes, vigorously) until well-blended and thick. Whisk in browned butter, set aside.

3) Heat milk and heavy cream over medium heat until it begins to steam. Working a little bit at a time, whisk the hot milk into the butter/egg/sugar mixture, stirring constantly. Once all of the hot dairy is incorporated into the egg mixture, pour back into the sauce pan.

4) Cook over medium heat until mixture is thickened (about ten minutes). Be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan with your spoon to get all those yummy bits at the bottom. If you want to get fancy and technical, the proper temperature is about 175 to 180 degrees.

5) Pour mixture through a strainer and into your storage container. Proper etiquette dictates that you should submerge in an ice bath until cooled – I usually skip that step because I’m lazy.

6) Refrigerate mixture for at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight.

7) Freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions. Now comes the fun part: spread a layer of ice cream on the bottom of your storage container, then a layer of cookies (packed firmly down), then another layer of ice cream, then cookies, then so on and so forth. End with a top layer of ice cream.

8) Freeze overnight, or until firm (about 4 hours).

9) Start eating and try not to die of happiness. Enjoy!