I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again…
(and possibly one thousand times thereafter):
Alcohol by itself? Meh.
Alcohol combined with heavy cream and chocolate and then churned into an otherworldly masterpiece of cold and creamy proportions?
Much, much better 🙂
Don’t believe me? Well just take a look at this beauty:
(Ain’t she purdy?)
I know, I know – alcohol purists of any sort will argue that this is a potentially blasphemous treatment of a sacred beverage, but if you’re a lightweight like me, infusing alcohol into ice cream is a simple (and delicious) way of making it a bit more …approachable.
(So basically, you can put up the appearance of Sophisticated Adult while still being able to use sprinkles and whipped cream).
Those of you who have followed this blog for any amount of time now understand my strong preference for alcoholic beverages that don’t really taste like alcohol at all, but rather, some variation of a milkshake or melted sundae. I blame history: at the tender age of 21, I started off my drinking journey with a Pina Colada of all things, which undoubtedly was a bad indication of things to come.
Ever since, I’ve had a soft spot in my heart for fluffy, stereotypically early-twenty-something beverages that come in bottles with images of cupcakes and cotton candy on the front. It’s a character flaw of which I’ve never been particularly proud, but I’m finding it more and more shameful now that I’m technically a grown up and I’ve married into a family of rowdy Jameson drinkers (I love you guys!)
Now that I’m a bit older and have a marginally more developed palate/sense of obligation to start enjoying Adult Pastimes, I’ve come to think I’ve developed a good working relationship with “real” alcohol that actually tastes like…well, alcohol.
It’s kind of like that person at school or work of whom you’ve always been weary until one day you’re on a project together and you realize you have more in common than you thought, and you’ve gone from mere acquaintances to JOLLY FRIENDS and it sort of blows your mind just thinking about it.
Yeah, that’s me and alcohol.
Beer is one such alcoholic beverage that I’ve progressively grown to appreciate more and more in my old age, although we haven’t always been on the best of terms.
When my husband and I first started dating, I could only have half a beer before I started feeling:
(But more like: Immediately Sleepy. Or, perhaps: Occasionally Sick).
Seriously. HALF A BEER.
(I wish I were joking).
Now, nearly five years later, I’ve finally worked my way up to an entire beer, and I’m always really proud of myself when I can drink a full bottle and stay awake. Lately, I’ve been experimenting with darker varieties (darker? Is that even the term? Higher alcohol content? Whatever.) with the steadfast encouragement of my husband. He’s been getting a bit more adventurous with the brews he brings home for us to share, and while I’m far from a beer aficionado, I’d like to think that at the very least, my 21-year old self would be quite impressed with my level of Adult.
Then one day, he brought home this little gem that immediately had my heart racing:
Presenting, dear readers, Sweet Baby Jesus Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter from DuClaw Brewing Company in Maryland.
There aren’t many things on this planet I love more than a good ol’ Chocolate PB combo, so when my husband brought this baby home, I flipped out in an “omigoodness honey what is that where’d it come from there’s no way that’s beer GIVE IT TO ME NOW!” sort of way.
The smell alone of this stuff was simply amazing – I was shocked at how a beer could create such a deep, cocoa-y wave of goodness against my senses. The taste was delicious, and although it was a bit robust for my amateur palate, I couldn’t wait to do my thing and turn it into the best alcohol-infused ice cream I’d ever made.
It’s been a while since I’ve made a chocolate based ice cream (what have I become?!) so I think I overcompensated a bit by making this the deepest, darkest, chocolatiest ice cream I could muster. I also added extra salt to the peanut butter before I swirled it into the finished product – I think it really helped amplify the chocolate and porter flavors.
This ice cream certainly isn’t for the faint of heart, but I love that she’s got a strong backbone like that. Going into the holiday season, it’s nice and rich and dark – it’s festive without being too typically ginger-pumpkin-spice-cranberry-holiday.
For those of you with a trained palate, you’ll be able to immediately identify the distinct richness and undertones of the porter. For newbies like me, you’ll note the dark, creamy chocolate and salty peanut butter, but will also pick up on something unexpected; something a little bit charming but dark and mysterious, all at the same time.
You can definitely substitute for your favorite porter in this recipe, or any other darker beer that fits your fancy (Dear 21-year-old me: take note of the excellent use of “fits your fancy”).
This ice cream is sexy and fun, but totally down to earth. Something tells me we’ll be friends for a very, very long time.
Happy scooping 🙂
Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter Ice Cream
Yield: 1 Quart
12 ounces of your favorite porter
2 cups heavy cream
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch-Process
6 ounces dark or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup whole milk
¾ cup sugar
Pinch of kosher salt
5 large egg yolks
1 cup peanut butter, divided
- In a medium skillet, heat 6 ounces of the beer over medium heat and simmer until reduced by half (about ten minutes). Once reduced, combine with the rest of the beer in a large glass or liquid measuring cup.
- In a medium saucepan, warm 1 cup of the cream and whisk in cocoa powder until dissolved. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer at a low boil for 30 seconds, whisking constantly. Remove from heat and add the chopped chocolate, stirring until smooth. Then stir in the remaining 1 cup cream, porter, and vanilla extract. Pour the mixture into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top of the bowl.
- Warm the milk, sugar, and salt in your saucepan. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm milk into the egg yolks while whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed yolks back into the saucepan.
- Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula or wooden spoon, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens into custard and coats the back of the spoon (or when it reaches 170˚). Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the chocolate and beer mixture until smooth, then stir in one quarter of the peanut butter until completely incorporated. Stir until cool over an ice bath.
- Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator (at least 4 hours or preferably overnight), and then freeze in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Move freshly churned ice cream to a storage container; swirl in the remaining peanut butter, then freeze overnight or until solid.
- Enjoy 🙂