Dark Chocolate and Blue Cheese Ice Cream

You read that right.

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Blue cheese and chocolate is a flavour combination that has been around for a while now, although many might not have heard of it.

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The flavour combination might sound a bit non-intuitive but there is actually some science behind it. I first heard about this pairing in a documentary about food when I was 10, and have been fantasizing about it ever since. And what do you know when I googled it, someone had already come out with a recipe for a blue cheese and chocolate ice cream.

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10 years later, my dream has finally come to fruition in this creamy lovechild. I had leftover chocolate from making chocolate bread. I had leftover blue cheese from making a walnut and blue cheese loaf. This was fate.

Apparently it goes well together because they share many similar flavour molecules. In particular, the ketones given off by bacteria in the lipolysis of blue cheese are similar to the ketones also found in cocoa. So the blue cheese serves to highlight the flavour of the chocolate and really makes it stand out.

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This recipe will require an ice cream maker (look at it churn!).

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Don’t worry, if I didn’t tell you there was blue cheese in it you probably wouldn’t be able to taste it. You’d just notice there was something different about the chocolate. Maybe it seems more intense then usual. Maybe there is a floral note that isn’t usually present. In the end you just get a really intense chocolate flavour brought to new levels of complexity by the blue cheese, chocolate, and vanilla bean paste.

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Flavour aside, the texture of this ice cream is amazing as well, and I have to give props to a Ruben of Ice Cream Science for his detailed instructions on how to achieve that smooth, velvety texture completely devoid of sandy ice crystals.

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Clearly taking this too seriously.

Ingredients (about 1 l of ice cream)

  • 333g double cream (about 50.5% fat)
  • 555g semi-skimmed milk
  • 141g sugar
  • 72g egg yolks (about 4 medium egg yolks)
  • 20g cocoa powder
  • 40g dark chocolate (at least 70%)
  • 25g blue cheese
  • 3g instant coffee/espresso powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste

Method

  1. Whisk your sugar and your eggs together until pale yellow in colour. This would make your eggs less likely to curdle later.
  2. Add the sugar and egg yolks mixture to a wide-diameter saucepan (the wider-diameter the better for concentrating the mixture for a smooth and creamy texture. Something to do with heating the proteins so they undergo reversible unfolding). Add cream, milk, and cocoa powder and mix. Break the dark chocolate into small pieces and then add to pan.
  3. Heat the mixture over medium heat and keep stirring gently. You want to aim for your mixture to reach 71.4°C for 60 mins. Do not overheat your mixture or the proteins in the mixture will aggregate and cause a eggy sulforous smell. Stir constantly.
  4. After 50 mins, add the coffee and the blue cheese. Stir well until the cheese is dissolved.
  5. Take the pan off the heat and then pour the mixture into a container. Stir in the vanilla extract. The faster you can cool this mixture down to about 10°C, the less bacteria will grow and the longer your ice cream will last. If you are conscientious you can float your container in ice mixed with salt and a bit of water.
  6. Age your mixture overnight in the fridge. The crystallisation of fat in the ice cream during this period of time helps maintain the shape of the ice cream and helps it melt slower.
  7. The next day, pour in your ice cream machine and make the ice cream. When it reaches your desired consistency, transfer to a pre-cooled container and place in freezer immediately to firm up. The faster it reaches -18°C in the freezer, the less ice crystals will form in your ice cream so a sandy texture wouldn’t develop. Chill overnight.
  8. When serving, let it thaw first for about 5-10 mins. If it’s too cold it doesn’t taste as creamy and sweet.

Notes

  • The website I took the recipe from said you’ll end up with 750ml but I ended up with something closer to 1l.
  • If you’re using an ice cream maker that needs to freeze the bowl in the freezer beforehand, make sure to cover it with clingfilm so ice crystals won’t form in the bowl and cause your ice cream to have a sandy texture.
  • I didn’t have a thermometer so if you are like me and like to guesstimate through this recipe, just maintain a medium heat for an hour and stir constantly. If it’s bubbling, it’s probably overheating so take it off the heat. In the end your ice cream mixture should be able to coat the back of your spoon, and running your finger through it should leave a clear line like in the picture in the post. I still ended up with an amazing texture so if you’re not aiming for perfection it’s good enough.
  • The website I got this from has recipe variations for 36% fat and 38% fat cream.
  • Yeah you can substitute the vanilla bean paste for vanilla extract. Vanilla essence, in a pinch, but you won’t get a good flavour. The sweetness of the vanilla really helps balance out the coffee.
  • You’re adding the coffee and vanilla so late in the process because their flavour compounds are quite volatile.
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