Recipe: Dark Chocolate Ice Cream With Fig & Cardamom

Summer is in full swing and there's nothing we crave more than ice cream. So when we found ourselves with some uneaten figs and a little free time, we whipped up a batch of this extremely decadent and creamy dessert. The figs cut the deep chocolate base with a little sweetness while the Cardamom throws in a little twist!

This is a great versatile recipe that is easy to customize depending on what you have in the house. We personally love figs but others in our house aren't as wild about their taste. This recipe has a middle of the road figgy taste. It can support up to twice the amount of figs if needed or you can also reduce the amount of Cardamom to let more of the fig shine through (It can be eliminated all together if needs be and still turn out tasty.)

Dark Chocolate Ice Cream With Fig & Cardamom
1 quart

Fig Mixture
10-12 ripe figs, quartered
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Seeds of 3 whole cardamom pods, crushed
3 tablespoons light corn syrup

Custard Base
1 pint heavy cream
1 1/3 cup skim milk
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup white granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean
6 large egg yolks (see note below)
1/3 cup dark cocoa powder (see note below)

Notes: It's worth using yolks from large brown or free range, organic eggs. If this isn't in the cards, add an additional yolk to make up the difference.

If you don't have Dutch process cocoa powder on hand, try checking into Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa Powder. It has worked out great in this recipe and is half the cost of the other. You can also use 7 ounces of bittersweet chocolate, melted, instead.

Add the figs, brown sugar, salt, and ground cardamom seeds to a small saucepan (or nonstick pan). (For crushing the cardamom, a mortal and pestle works, as does the back of a muddler against a metal bowl to grind seeds.) Heat the mixture over medium high heat until bubbly. Mash ingredients with a potato masher and allow to continue reducing over low heat for an additional 5 minutes (it will thicken as it sits). Remove from heat and put in a medium bowl.

Prepare an ice bath, mixing ice, salt and water.

Note: It's worth the extra salt to get the temperature of the water even lower than freezing; it will help your custard chill quicker and keep the cocoa from burning. You don't need the ice bath this second, but if your custard reaches a boil (in the step below) and you catch it quickly, you can drop your pan into the ice bath and start stirring to reduce the temperature as soon as possible. You can save it if you act quick and are prepared! Better safe than sorry!

Combine cream, milk, salt, and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Halve the vanilla bean and add its seeds and whole pod to the cream mixture. Heat mixture until just before boiling, stirring frequently (see note above). Cover and let stand while you complete the next step.

Mix the egg yolks and half the cooled fig mixture together to temper eggs (you can temper with the custard itself if you wish and add all the fig at the end, we just find this method easier).

Mix cocoa powder into the cooled custard base. Whisk in as little air as possible until combined. Add the fig/egg mixture a little at a time until fully combined.

Return to medium high heat and stir constantly until mixture reaches 170 degrees Fahrenheit on a candy thermometer.

Remove from heat and place in ice bath and stir mixture quickly and smoothly to reduce temperature. The mixture, even once removed from heat will continue to cook, take your pan directly from the heat and place in the bath until temperature has dropped under 100 degrees. Add corn syrup and remaining fig mixture, stir to combine.

Strain mixture if you wish (we don't mind the seeds and little bits of cardamom so we usually don't) to make it silky smooth and place in the fridge for at least an hour (it can be more!).

Churn mixture via your ice cream maker's instructions until mixtures temperature has dropped and mixture has thickened slightly. Pour into an airtight container and freeze overnight. In the photo above we used a glass bread pan and Saran wrap. This method worked great, although we wish we would have used the Saran wrap over the entire pan instead of under and over both. Enjoy!

It's a great twist on a basic chocolate custard to make any day special! Enjoy!

Related: Faith's Honey Ice Cream with Fig-Sesame Swirls

(Images: Sarah Rae Trover)