Blue Cheese and Chocolate Ice CreamBlue Cheese AND Chocolate Ice Cream?

You may be wondering why I am suggesting using blue cheese in ice cream but trust me it works, especially paired with chocolate.

Blue cheese and chocolate work really well together because they have very similar molecular profiles. Both cocoa and blue cheese share many flavour molecules, including a host of ketones. Ketones generally give a very fruity or blue cheese character and are also present in many fruit flavours.

Over 60% of ketones in blue cheese are also found in cocoa. Because they share so many flavour compounds, they are two ingredients that work extremely well together. The blue cheese will intensify the intense dark chocolate flavour and also add a floral note.

Ingredients 

organic cream, organic semi-skimmed milk, organic un-refined sugar, organic free-range eggs, organic cocoa powder, organic dark chocolate, organic coffee beans, organic vanilla extract, and blue cheese.

This recipe will make about 750ml worth of ice cream.

The cocoa powder should have a fat content of around 20% and the chocolate a cocoa solids content of between 70 and 85%. The cocoa powder will contribute the intensely dark chocolate flavour, whilst the chocolate is used predominantly for the cocoa butter, which contributes fat for that rich and creamy texture.

The coffee beans and sea salt are used to really bring out and compliment the dark chocolate flavour, whilst the vanilla extract will round off any sharp bitter notes from the chocolate and contribute a slightly sweet flavour.

If you are using cream at 36% fat:
Cream 474g
Semi-skimmed milk 413g
Sugar 141g
Egg yolks 72g
Cocoa powder 20g
Dark Chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids) 40g
Blue cheese 25g
Whole coffee beans 3g
Vanilla extract 1 teaspoon

If you are using cream at 38% fat:
Cream 448g
Semi-skimmed milk 440g
Sugar 141g
Egg yolks 72g
Dark Chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids) 40g
Blue cheese 25g
Whole coffee beans 3g 
Vanilla extract 1 teaspoon

If you are using cream at 50.5% fat:
Cream 333g
Semi-skimmed milk 555g
Sugar 141g
Egg yolks 72g
Dark Chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids) 40g
Blue cheese Sea salt 25g
Whole coffee beans 3g
Vanilla extract 1 tsp

Blue Cheese and Chocolate Ice Cream

It is important to use good quality organic ingredients for the best flavour

The tables below will show the composition of the ice cream mix (not including the cocoa fat) before and after heating. The totals are expressed as a percentage of the mix.

Composition of mix before it has been heated

1. Freezing the freezer bowl

For this recipe, I use the Cuisinart ICE30 which comes with a large 2 litre bowl. The day before you start making your ice cream, take your ice cream freezer bowl and cover the top with cling film;  use an elastic band to help keep it in place.

Put the bowl in a plastic bag and tie the ends. The plastic bag and cling film will help prevent water from freezing to the inside of the bowl whilst in the freezer. Water frozen to the inside of the bowl will melt into the mix, increasing its water content thereby causing a sandy texture.

Take a 1 litre plastic container, the freezer bowl, and the ice cream dasher and place them in your freezer. Freezing will remove any heat stored in the dasher and container. Heat that is transferred to the ice cream during freezing from the container or dasher increases ice crystal size, by melting the crystals, contributing to a sandy texture.

It’s also important that you freeze enough water to make an ice bath. Freeze water in several ice trays or small plastic containers.
2. Setting the fridge and freezer temperature

It is very important that set your fridge to between 0 and 2°C to increase the rate of crystallisation when you  age your mix in the fridge overnight. Crystallisation of fat during the ageing process helps maintain the shape of ice cream when it is served and also helps minimise the rate at which the ice cream melts.

Set your freezer to around -25°C, or as cold as you can get it.  Once churned in the ice cream maker, the quicker you can get your ice cream to below -18°C, the smaller the ice crystal are likely to be. The temperature and rate of hardening determine the final ice crystal size . Hardening is complete when the temperature at the centre of the container drops to -18°C or lower, preferably -25 to -30°C. The longer it takes for the ice cream to reach these temperatures, the larger theice crystals will grow and, subsequently, the sandier the texture.

It is also important to get your freezer bowl as cold as possible. The colder your bowl is, the quicker it will freeze the ice cream. The quicker you freeze your mix, the smaller the  ice crystals are likely to be and the creamier the texture.

I set my freezer to ‘super freeze’ when chilling my freezer bowl. This drops the temperature to around -27°C. At this low temperature, it takes me about 15 minutes to churn a mix, which is very good for a domestic ice cream maker (professional ice cream makers take about 8 minutes). If I set my freezer to around -18°C, it takes about 20 minutes for the bowl to churn and freeze a mix. Remember, the quicker you can churn your mix, the smaller the ice crystals are likely to be and the creamier the texture of your ice cream.

Blue Cheese and Chocolate Ice Cream3. Preparing an ice bath

Once you have allowed enough water to freeze, take a large pan and fill it with enough ice to make an ice bath. Have a large zip-lock freezer bag ready next to the bowl, along with some table salt. The purpose of using a zip lock bag and water bath is to ensure that the mix is cooled as quickly as possible, minimising the time the mix spends in the ‘danger zone’; between 5 and 65°C. In this temperature range, bacteria in your mix is likely to multiply, imparting a very undesirable smell and taste. Allowing bacteria to multiply is also not the best thing for your health.

4. Size of pan

As strange as it sounds, the size of the pan in which you heat your mix is very important. The larger the diameter of your pan, the more water will evaporate during heating. This is important because the fundamental reason for heating your mix for 60 minutes is to concentrate the milk solids non fat, more specifically the protein. By concentrating the mix, you increase the percentage of protein. Protein plays a significant role in limiting the size of ice crystals, thereby improving texture, so the higher the percentage of protein in your mix the better.

I recommend using a large pan with a 23cm diameter. This will allow you to concentrate your mix by about 32%. If you use a pan with a small diameter, you won’t be able to reduce the mix by the same amount in 60 minutes. The texture won’t be as smooth and creamy as a that prepared in pan with a larger diameter.

Large Pan 25. Heating your mix

Once you have prepared the ice bath, add the sugar and the egg yolks to the heavy pan. Mix the eggs and sugar together until both ingredients have combined. The sugar mixed with the yolks will help prevent the yolks from curdling. Add the cream, milk, and cocoa powder. Break the chocolate bar into small pieces and add to the pan. Gently stir the mix before you switch the heat on.

Over a medium heat, heat the mixture until the temperature reaches 70°C, making sure that you are constantly stirring the mix. You will risk burning the proteins and curdling the egg yolks if you do not constantly stir.

Once the temperature reaches 70°C, turn the heat down to low and continue heating until the temperature reaches 71.4°C. Use a kitchen thermometer to keep the temperature at 71.4°C for 60 minutes. This will ensure that the whey proteins undergo reversible unfolding, but not aggregation, which will significantly improve the texture of the finished ice cream.

Do not let the temperature rise above 71.4°C. You will risk aggregating the proteins, which is detrimental to texture, and developing the unpleasant and eggy hydrogen sulphide taste if you heat the mixture above71.4°C.

Heating the mix for 60 minutes may sound like a long time but believe me it is a small price to pay for extremely creamy ice cream.  Holding the mix at 71.4°C for 60 minutes will mean that you will concentrate the mix by about 32%. Concentrating the mix will increase the percentage of protein, which contributes significantly to a smooth and creamy texture. I have played around with the heating periods and have found that a mix heated for 60 minutes will produce a much creamier  and smoother ice cream than one heated for 15, 30, and 45 minutes.

After 50 minutes, add the coffee beans and the blue cheese to the pan. When you cook with coffee your kitchen is filled with a delicious coffee aroma. That aroma is the volatile compounds escaping from the bean. Adding the coffee beans towards the end of cooking will minimise the loss of these volatile flavour compounds through evaporation, ensuring that more stay in your mix to compliment and boost the chocolate flavour.

Stir well to ensure that the blue cheese is dissolved into the mix.

Blue Cheese and Chocolate Ice Cream6. Cooling the mix

After 60 minutes, take the pan off the heat and carefully pour the mix into the zip lock bag. Add the vanilla extract and close.

Add about 3 tablespoons of salt to the ice in your ice bath. This will significantly lower the temperature of the ice, thereby cooling your mix faster.

Once the mix has cooled to about 10°C, place it in the fridge and leave overnight. It is important to allow enough time for the ice cream mix to age. Remember that crystallisation of fat during the ageing process helps maintain the shape of ice cream when it is served and also helps minimise the rate at which the ice cream melts.

7. Churning the mix

Once you have allowed the mix to age overnight, place the freezer bowl in the machine and add the dasher. Put the lid on and, with the machine switched on, pour in the mix. You can remove the coffee beans with a spoon prior to freezing if you wish. I do not recommend using a sieve as the mixture will be too thick. I personally leave the coffee beans in.

As soon as you pour in the mix, use your thumb to push the dasher against the side of the bowl. Pushing the dasher against the side will prevent any ice from freezing to the side. Any ice that is frozen to the side of the bowl will act as an insulator, slowing the release of heat from the ice cream to the bowl. If the transfer of heat from the ice cream to the freezer bowl is reduced, the ice cream will take longer to freeze. The longer the ice cream takes to freeze, the larger the ice crystals will grow and the sandier the texture will be. Keep the dasher pushed against the side of the bowl until you have finished churning the mix (sore thumbs is an additional price to pay for smooth creamy ice cream).

Use a spoon to push along any static lumps of ice cream. Any static lumps will start to melt, causing a sandy texture.

After about 20 minutes (or about 15 minutes if your freezer was set to around -27°C), switch the machine off and quickly empty the mix into the pre-chilled container. The longer you take to empty the ice cream into the container, the longer the ice cream will spend at room temperature. At room temperature, ice crystals will start to quickly melt. If ice crystals melt, they will grow bigger when the ice cream is placed in the freezer. Therefore, the longer the ice cream spends at room temperature, the sandier the texture will be. Be as quick as you can when emptying the ice cream into the plastic container.

Ice crystals will continue to grow until the temperature drops to below -18°C. It is therefore critical to get the your ice cream into the freezer and down to below -18°C as quickly as possible to prevent a sandy and coarse texture from developing.

8. Freezing the mix

Quickly place the container in the freezer and freeze overnight. Make sure that there is enough space in your freezer for the air to circulate freely. The more cluttered your freezer, the longer it will take for the churned ice cream to reach -18°C and the bigger the ice crystals will get.

At -18°C, it is recommended that homemade ice cream be kept for about a week. This is because some bacteria are still able to multiply at -18°C. Below -18°C, it becomes too cold for bacteria to multiply and so ice cream can be kept for longer.

9. Serving the ice cream

The next day, take the ice cream out of the freezer and let sit to thaw for between 5 to 10 minutes, or until it is soft enough to scoop. Serve the ice cream at below -12°C. As the serving temperature is increased from -14.4 to -7.8°C, flavour and sweetness become more pronounced.

Let me know if you try the recipe.

Dark Chocolate and Blue Cheese Ice Cream

Dark Chocolate and Blue Cheese Ice Cream