Bittersweet Symphony

Bittersweet Symphony: Nibby Ice Cream


I didn't grow up covered in chocolate though I have indulged in wishful thinking that I had once worked in a truffle production line as a child. Rolling truffles with my bare cool hands in the midst of winter. Clouds of cocoa powder like mist hanging in mid-air.


All but a dream of course. But what's wrong with a little day-dreaming now and then?

I did, however had many close encounters with my now 'archilles heel' as a kid. Like the time I was caught in my crib in a brave attempt to wrestle a square of cadbury chocolate down my tiny throat; only to turn a shade of stunning blue. Greed.. it does all kinds of things to you.Thank goodness for some quick action hailing from my domestic helper, I was saved from some premature death.

Nowadays, with chocolate appearing in more varied and sophisticated forms, my tastes headed westwards... all the way to the heart of France. Still, my choice for superior chocolate remains suprisingly simple. Both nose and a full lingering finish.

And that's when I stumbled upon cocoa nibs - pure chocolate goodness in it's rawest form.


Cocoa nibs are essentially the cocoa bean itself, roasted, shelled and broken into tiny pieces. Bearing a resemblence to crushed coffee beans, the nibs do go down the same line in the aspect of taste spectrum. They are in fact, bitter and not sweet. The fermented and roasted seeds of the cocoa tree are then crushed, sweetened, emulsified and flavored to become the smooth irresistable bars of chocolates that us fans yearn for.

Only up to these days have cocoa nibs attained a 'cult' status. This cult includes Michael Recchiuti, San Francisco chocolatier folding caramelized nibs into white chocolate bark; Elizabeth Falkner of Citizen Cake, sprinkling them over salads and adding them to streusel; Farallon pastry chef Emily Luchetti, stirring them into chocolate chip dough and scattering them on top of brownie batter; and of course, Medrich herself, who adds them to pecan butter cookies and steeps them in cream before whipping it. (don't you get the shudders from imaging all of those already?!)

Nibs are perfect for the role of juxtaposition of bitter and sweet. Adding an almost raw, pure flavor of chocolate instantly without the distraction of sugar. At words of raw chocolate goodness, I surrendered.


Nibby Ice Cream
Serves 6

The nibs are steeped in the cream and milk base, then strained out before the mixture is churned, imparting a subtle flavor that's closer to malted milk than to chocolate. Adapted from "Pure Dessert" by Alice Medrich (Artisan, 2007).

1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/3 cup cocoa nibs
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
Instructions: Bring the cream, milk, nibs, sugar and salt to a simmer in a medium saucepan over moderate heat. Remove from the heat, cover and let steep for 20 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve, pressing on the nibs to extract all the liquid; discard the nibs.

Refrigerate the cream mixture until thoroughly chilled. Freeze in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer's directions.

Serve soft or transfer to an airtight container and freeze until the ice cream is hard enough to scoop.

Turns out, the ice-cream was gorgeous. Inheriting an almost milk chocolate tinge from the infused cocoa nibs, the cold slathering scoop was an ethereal connection with the true form of chocolate. Every spoonful, light as it might be, carried with it heavy notes of raw cocoa content. With a generous sprinkling of fallen cocoa nibs, all was complete. A symphony of crunchy nuggets and 'damm good' ice cream.

Here, a lesser writer would surrender to cheap hyperbole, and say something like, "Chocolate changed the very course of my enstrangled life."

Chocolate changed the very course of my enstrangled life.


Anonymous said...

Your ice cream looks and sounds wonderful. YUM>

Leslie said...

Must. Make. Now.

evan 이벤젤린 said...

it must be your writeup - the ice cream sounds VERY delicious!! wish i could only write half as good as you one day but for now, i could only dream :(

but say, the texture of the ice cream looks very icy and not creamy. is it supposed 2b that way?

SiHaN said...

pinkstripes: I'm glad you liked it.

Leslie: *giggles* certainly a must make.

Evan: nothing about the writing lar.. inspired by the flavors of chocolate. hehe.

oh the icecream arh.. it's more of a sorbet le cause it doesn't orginate from a custard mixture. No egg yolks used and half cream half milk in order not to overpower the delicate flavors of the nibs. Also because of the high water content in these. It makes it very susceptible to over-churning in the ice cream maker that results in the grainy texture. ARGH. blame it on the stupid ice cream machine. Bleah... wait till i invest in my inbuilt freezer one. hehe.

Linda said...

I've been eyeing this recipe for a sounds fantastic!