Ice cream in January? Are we crazy? Yes, we know that it's in the low teens outside and although the sun is shining here, it's still very, very cold outside. So ice cream may seem utterly unseasonal of us - it's just that this ice cream is one of our favorites and it's made from still seasonal cranberries.
We love the tart pop of scarlet cranberries in this rich custard ice cream, side-by-side with shiny chunks of dark chocolate that melt on the tongue. This combination was inspired by one of our favorite ice cream parlors...
Graeter's is a famous ice cream maker in Ohio and northern Kentucky; they are known for their enormous chunks and flakes of chocolate that get stirred into their small batch French pot ice cream. This recipe was inspired by those enormous shiny chunks; I wanted the dramatic chocolate effect. The best way to get it is to slowly trickle in partially-melted chocolate, but most home ice cream makers aren't cold enough or powerful enough to harden the chocolate before it melts the ice cream.
So I chopped really good chocolate into uneven shards - some big and chunky, others tiny and flaky - and slowly shook them in at the end of freezing. It's not as good as Graeter's - that would be too much to ask - but I was happy with the balance of flavors and textures.
If the tartness of cranberries isn't to your taste, try using big sweet dried cherries or prunes, steeped in booze.
Cranberry and Dark Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream
makes about 1 1/2 quarts ice cream
2 cups whole milk 2 cups cream 1 cup sugar 5 egg yolks 1-2 tablespoons rum 6-10 ounces premium dark chocolate, like Scharffen Berger 1/2 recipe Cranberry Sauce, made with plenty of orange zest and brandy
Whisk the first four ingredients together and slowly heat over low heat to 170°F. Stir in the rum. Chill overnight - or for at least four hours.
Chop the chocolate into rough chunks and flakes. Warm the cranberry sauce just slightly, so it can be easily spooned out. Freeze the custard in the ice cream maker. Near the middle of freezing, gradually dribble in the cranberry sauce, then put in the chocolate.
Freeze the ice cream in a covered bowl, with plastic wrap touching the surface of the ice cream.