Why, hello there, gorgeous!
Allow me to introduce myself – I’m the ice cream blogger who fell off the face of the earth for a few months in favor of pursuing more trivial matters, but now who is back and (hopefully) better than ever, daring to believe that her old friends will welcome her back with open arms and minimal judgment (<enter optimistic yet coy emoji face here>).
But seriously. You guys!
I’ve missed you. And this blog. Which, whether I like it or not, may always be a part of me, at least for the foreseeable future. (Which also means I’ll need to figure out how to deal with the crushing, overwhelming guilt I feel when I sometimes choose to ignore this space for extended periods of time).
I thought about skipping that whole awkward re-introduction thing that Long Lost Bloggers sometimes try to pull (“you guys, I just…I was living my life through a screen and I needed to center myself again”), but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that THE PEOPLE DESERVE THE TRUTH and the only way I could live with myself moving forward is by promoting and sustaining a blog culture of transparency.
Plus, I also have completely legit first world excuses with which I’m hoping some of you can identify, especially those of you with blogs who struggle to uphold the elusive “blog/life” balance conundrum that I seem to be failing at miserably lately.
Excuses such as:
- General laziness. I know, I know. This is a sad one. But it’s the truth. For a while there, I just got burnt out on everything and at the time, Netflix and Skittles seemed like a much better release than staging photoshoots, obsessing over every detail, and making a royal mess in the kitchen.
- I got a Fitbit. Oh, dreaded physical activity! I fought the Fitbit craze for a very long time, but now that I have one, I really can’t imagine leaving the house without it. The Fitbit made me realize that for the most part, I maintain a pretty sedentary lifestyle (which is fine with me, but probably not the smartest for the ol’ heart muscle). I’ve actually been trying to get outside and move my body versus staying inside and scrolling through cookie dough cupcake images on Instagram (but don’t get me wrong – I’d really, really rather do the latter).
- We started looking for a house. Looking for a house has been both a blessing and a curse. I’m grateful to be in this position, obviously, but this whole experience has made me realize what a picky a$$hole I am. Let’s just say, a lifetime of Country Living Magazine doesn’t necessarily create the most realistic expectations when house-hunting in the real world. My poor husband. And realtor. But you guys, I have a vision. A VISION. #Centuryfarmhouseorbust.
So, there ya have it. Spilled milk, if I do say so myself. It’s a new day! Now, on to the ice cream.
I actually crafted this recipe a few months ago when it was still chilly in Ohio, so it’s not exactly light and summery (but in my defense, this is Ohio and practically speaking, it could snow at any time and then this ice cream would be precisely appropriate).
The inspiration for this ice cream came from my brother-in-law (who really, feels like he’s been my brother my whole life, so let’s just go ahead and drop the “in-law” business). He texted me a pic of his favorite new chocolate bar, a carmelized white chocolate with crispy almonds that he found at a local grocery store.
Immediately, I was skeptical. White chocolate and almonds are pretty much two of my least favorite things in the world, aside from maybe canned peas and goat cheese. I think I replied with some sort of generic “Oh, looks super good!” but in my head I was thinking “White chocolate? Yeah, right.”
But for some reason, a few days later, I couldn’t get it out of my head.
Wait – did he say caramelized? Chocolate? What does that even MEAN? You can’t caramelize chocolate!
I did some research, and thank goodness His Majesty of All Things Dessert, David Lebovitz, had a tutorial on how to caramelize white chocolate at home. Caramelizing the chocolate involves roasting it in your oven until it gets all caramel-y and delicious and then you can add salt if you want and OH MY GOD I just knew this was my next ice cream.
And in a case you’re wondering, “well isn’t this just basically caramel ice cream? You guys, it’s not. It’s absolutely not.
Roasting the white chocolate chips took me nearly an hour and a half (I think our oven runs cool, perhaps). So every ten minutes or so during Jurassic World I had to get up and stir the chocolate, which was the biggest pain in the a$$ ever, but when all was said and done, I was left with the creamiest, richest, most delicious roasted white chocolate you could ever imagine. It was like salted caramel’s very sexy, voluptuous cousin.
Then, imagine this sexy white chocolate mixed into ice cream – it’s comforting, slightly smoky, and full of beautiful flavor. The almonds add a lovely crunch and a nice bit of extra salt to cut the richness of the chocolate. I was so surprised by how much I enjoyed this flavor! In fact, if I ever have my own ice cream shop, I’d keep this on my regular menu. It’s made me realize that my “dark chocolate or die” attitude might just be a little narrow-minded.
Big bro, this one’s for you! Thanks for broadening my horizons and keeping me well-informed about the magical wonders of life…and white chocolate 🙂
Caramelized White Chocolate Ice Cream with Toasted Almonds
Yield: 1 quart
For the Caramelized White Chocolate:
1 bag (12 ounces) of white chocolate chips or chunks (I used Ghirardelli)
1 to 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
Sea salt or smoked salt, to taste
For the ice cream base:
5 egg yolks
½ cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the almonds:
2 cups of raw almonds
Pinch of smoked salt, or to taste
Make the Caramelized White Chocolate:
- Preheat oven to 250. In a bowl, toss chocolate pieces with 1 or 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Spread chocolate on a rimmed baking sheet with a spatula, and place in oven for about an hour, stirring every ten minutes (I know it’s a pain but it’s totally worth it). Start watching it very closely after about 30 minutes – we want roasted chocolate, not bitter burnt chocolate, and 30 minutes may be enough depending upon your oven. Make sure when you stir the chocolate, that you are aggressively scraping the chocolate at the bottom of the pan to help avoid parts of the chocolate getting darker than others.
- Once the chocolate looks like caramel (or, as David Lebovitz puts it, “all natural peanut butter”), remove from oven and top with sea salt (I used a combo of normal sea salt and some smoked salt as well). Place into a jar for later use, or, if about to make your ice cream, you can use it right away. For this ice cream, I set aside about a ¼ of a cup to make caramelized chocolate chips (do this easily by spreading the chocolate out thinly on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and freezing or refrigerating for half an hour; then break apart with your hands or a knife).
Make the Ice Cream base:
- In a medium sized bowl, lightly stir one cup of the heavy cream and melted caramelized white chocolate (if the chocolate seems like it’s ceasing up, don’t worry – it will melt again once you later add your warm ice cream mixture). Place a mesh sieve on top.
- In another medium sized bowl, lightly whisk your egg yolks.
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat the remaining 1 cup cream, 1 cup milk, sugar, and salt until it just begins to steam. A little at a time, pour the warmed cream mixture into the yolks, whisking constantly until all of the cream is incorporated. Pour the warmed yolks back into the saucepan, and continue cooking for ten minutes or so, until the mixture thickens into a custard (if using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, the custard should stick to the back; when you wipe your finger across, there should be a clear “path” through the custard).
- Once finished, strain your custard through the mesh sieve into the bowl with the white chocolate and cream. Stir until combined, adding vanilla and season with a touch more salt, if needed. Store mixture in the fridge until thoroughly chilled, preferably overnight.
Toast the almonds:
- Preheat oven to 350. In a rimmed baking sheet, evenly spread the almonds. Toast for 5 to 10 minutes, monitoring closely. Almonds should be a nice golden brown when finished.
- Remove from oven and sprinkle with smoked salt. I used a combo of sea and smoked salt. Before I add the salt, I like to lightly spray with some kind of oil so that the salt sticks better. Set almonds aside for later.
Put it all together:
- Freeze the ice cream base in your machine according to manufacturer’s instructions. During the last minute of churn time, add the white chocolate chunks and almonds. Move to a cute storage container, then freeze overnight or until hardened (anywhere from 4 to 8 hours). Enjoy 🙂