There’s a common strategy in the cooking world that if you want to introduce someone to something new - especially if it’s a food they think they don’t like – you should pair it with a favorite food. That means putting ew-inducing vegetables on pizza or trying out a new spice blend, say Garam Masala, on french fries.
I decided to try this strategy on myself, because while my list of disliked foods and drinks is not long, I’m still always trying to be more open minded. For me it’s worth it, because many of my current favorite foods – mushrooms come most strongly to mind – wouldn’t be so if it wasn’t for my ability to get past initial distain. So what did I tackle? An uber nutritious veggie perhaps? An exotic spice? An ancient grain?
I know to many people the fact that I don’t like beer is a bit of a puzzler. Maybe you can chalk it up to the fact that my first encounter with it was from a warm keg at a houseparty (Though I have a feeling many people first experienced beer in similarly undesirable circumstances so I don’t think you can blame it on introduction alone.) or the fact that I so love wine and a good mixed drink that I don’t have much incentive to explore new beers. But wherever the reason lies, beer and I have not made friends quite yet.
I’d always been trying them straight up so I decided that maybe I would have better luck if I tried the beer in something, especially if it was something I already liked. It seemed like common sense and certainly couldn’t be any less successful than what I was already doing. I filed the strategy away until this weekend when while searching for a recipe to make chocolate ice cream I found one for Chocolate Stout Ice Cream. Given that my love for chocolate is only slightly surpassed by one other food (cheese of course) it seemed like a surefire strategy.
In this recipe a base of half and half, whipping cream, egg yolks, and sugar gets deliciously flavored by milk chocolate and a dose of stout. A bit of vanilla and chocolate extracts and some sea salt are also added to round out the flavor. I know for a lot of people the idea of adding salt to a sweet dish is strange, but it really does heighten the flavor. I’ve accidently left it out of a sweet recipe from time to time and can always tell the difference.
After letting it churn in my ice cream maker, I hovered over the bowl, nervously awaiting a taste of my creation. ( Though if I’m posting it here you probably already have an idea of the outcome.) It was simply delicious! Normally I find beer to be overly bitter, but here the sweetness of the milk chocolate and the richness of the cream balanced it out perfectly. In fact, I found I liked it better than standard milk chocolate ice cream because the stout flavor lessened the intensity of the sweetness and almost made the chocolate flavor more prominent. I also had some reservations that the ice cream might be too rich because a last minute incident with curdled milk (despite the fact I opened it for the first time to make this recipe) led me to use half and half as a late minute substitution. However, given that a fair bit of the liquid in this recipe comes from the beer, I thought it actually resulted in just the right texture, smooth and creamy like a premium store bought ice cream without the slightest bit of ice crystals. Only time will tell if it was enough to bring me closer to being a bonafide beer lover, or more realistically a beer tolerator, but I do know that I will definitely make this again. Baby steps.
Adapted from from David Lebovitz as found on The Kitchn
Yields one quart
-7 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped (I used Callebaut Milk Chocolate, which performed beautifully in this recipe)
-1 cup half and half
-1/2 cup sugar
-Pinch of salt
-4 large egg yolks
-1 cup heavy cream
-3/4 cup stout
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1 teaspoon chocolate extract (optional)
Put the chocolate pieces in a large bowl and set a mesh strainer over the top.
Warm the half and half, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.
Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. Pour the custard through the strainer over the milk chocolate, then stir until the chocolate is melted. Once the mixture is smooth, whisk in the cream, then the Guinness and vanilla. Stir until cool over an ice bath.
Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.