Black Mountain Chocolate Stout Ice Cream

I’d like to begin this post by declaring I don’t particularly care for chocolate things, unless they are really chocolate. Dark chocolate brownies are good because they are intensely chocolate, but chocolate milk, shakes, even most cakes—nope, not hitting my sweet spot. Milk chocolate? Forget it.

Then, a couple of years ago, at the Big Chill festival in Winston-Salem’s Bailey Park, a genius volunteer ice cream maker had the audacity to introduce a chocolate ice cream made with Guinness beer. “In ice cream?” I thought. Oh yes, in ice cream. It was dark, decadent and rich, without even a hint of beer flavor—only intense, chocolately lusciousness—and it stole my soul.

Then one afternoon when my husband, Les, and I had taken our dog, Nilla, to one of her favorite “dog bars” in our downtown, it hit me. Fiddlin’ Fish Brewing Company had collaborated with neighboring Black Mountain Chocolate to produce a stout beer that is smooth and roasty, with exactly enough underlying chocolate, and I knew in a moment that it needed to become part of this ice cream.

With a little fiddlin’, here it is—the richest, darkest, most luxurious chocolate ice cream I’ve ever tasted. The texture is beyond silky—almost like a cross between pudding and icing, and it’s so rich, you’ll want to add a little bit of alcohol in the final minute of mixing to keep it scoopable when it’s fully frozen. May I suggest Kahlua or Patron XO Café Dark?

My version of stout ice cream has a few special ingredients, but if you love chocolate and ice cream, it’s 100% worth the trouble. As I said, chocolate ice cream has never been my thing. But this one? It’s the be-all, end-all, winner of a chocolate ice cream that might just solve all the world’s problems. Or, at least, all of mine.

Deciding what to put it in was the toughest decision. I almost opted for going straight at it with my spoon.

This recipe is part of a series for National Ice Cream Month. Usually in July, my community celebrates with a fundraiser called “The Big Chill,” an entry-by-donation event offering tastings of exquisitely creative homemade ice creams, live music by local artists and “cold-calling,” during which various community leaders quite literally freeze their buns by sitting on blocks of ice in quest of a fundraising goal. This year, because of our city’s commitment to safety during the coronavirus, the live event has been sidelined and all activities will be virtual instead. The funds raised at The Big Chill are directed to an amazing organization called The Shalom Project. If you find any of my ice cream recipes interesting, creative, pretty, unexpected or intriguing, please consider donating to this life-giving cause. Link (here) for more information or (here) to donate, and thank you!

*The link to donate leads to my Key Lime Pie recipe on the Big Chill page, but your donation will go to the same great cause!

Ingredients

1 cup Fiddlin’ Fish Black Mountain Chocolate Stout beer*

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1 cup whole milk

2/3 cup fine cane sugar

3 Tbsp. honey or dark corn syrup

3 Tbsp. Double Dutch dark cocoa*

2 tsp. espresso powder*

1 tsp. vanilla extract

4 egg yolks

Pinch of kosher or sea salt

5.5 oz. good quality chocolate, broken into small chunks*

1 oz. vodka or one of the other suggested spirits* (optional)

*Notes

The Black Mountain Chocolate stout beer is available for drinking in the tasting room at Fiddlin’ Fish, but you can also purchase a “crowler” can of it to take home for later. This is how I got it home, and thankfully, since it was 32 oz., I had plenty left over to enjoy while I waited for this ice cream! For my out-of-area followers, consider using a similar dark beer from one of your own local brewing companies!

Double Dutch dark cocoa is a blend of Dutch-processed cocoa and black cocoa, available online from King Arthur Flour (nope, they’re still not paying me to talk up their products—I just happen to love them!) I add some of this to every batch of brownies I make (even store-bought), and Les has used it in his cookies. Never have I ever tasted such intense chocolate flavor. If you can’t get your hands on some, try Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa as a replacement.

The espresso powder is not necessary, but it really enhances the dark chocolate flavor. Don’t substitute ground coffee, but Starbucks Via instant coffee will probably be OK if you choose the darkest roast they have.

Espresso powder is a very finely ground powder of the dark roast coffee. It doesn’t add a coffee flavor to the ice cream, but further intensifies the chocolate. I bought mine in the specialty baking section at Walmart (of all places), but I believe you could also substitute a pouch of Starbucks Via instant French roast. Be sure it dissolves completely in the hot milk mixture so there is no “gritty” texture left behind.

You might be tempted to use an inexpensive bar of baker’s chocolate from the supermarket, but I don’t recommend it. Get thee to the candy aisle of your market. As with any recipe, you will have better end results when you choose the best ingredients you can find, and if it costs a bit extra, I promise you won’t regret it. At the time I developed this recipe, Black Mountain Chocolate was closed for pandemic safety, but I love their products and look forward to making this ice cream again with one of their superb hand-crafted dark chocolates, now that they have re-opened. Something in the 60-70% cacao range is perfect. And with no nuts or other add-ins, just chocolate.

The alcohol suggested for this recipe is optional but recommend for the best texture. Because this ice cream is so rich, it can be a little tricky to scoop straight from the freezer. Vodka or one of the other alcohols suggested above will improve this, so you don’t have to be tortured waiting for a taste.

Instructions

I know you can’t get enough of these ice cream pictures, so have a look at the visual step instructions first, if you’d like.

  1. In a small saucepan, bring stout beer to a light boil over medium heat, then reduce heat and simmer until it reduces to 1/2 cup, which should take about 10 minutes (measure to be sure).
  2. Add the heavy cream, milk, sugar, honey or syrup, cocoa and espresso powder, and whisk until sugar fully dissolves.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and salt.
  4. Ladle out about 1 cup of the hot mixture into a measuring cup with a pour spout.
  5. Slowly stream the cream mixture into the eggs, whisking constantly. This will “temper” the eggs, raising the temperature gradually to cook them without curdling.
  6. Transfer the mixture back to the pot with remaining liquid and cook over medium-low heat until custard thickens and coats the back of a spoon.
  7. Place the broken chocolate pieces in a large bowl with a mesh strainer over the top. Pour the hot custard mixture through the strainer over the chocolate pieces, and let it rest 2 minutes. Discard any solids that remain in the strainer.
  8. Stir or whisk the custard until the chocolate is completely melted.
  9. Place thick plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the custard, then cover the bowl with another piece of plastic wrap or a lid. Refrigerate overnight.
  10. Next day, stir custard until smooth, then pour into ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturer’s instructions. In the last minute of churning, add vodka or kahlua.
  11. Transfer the ice cream to an insulated freezer container and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight.

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