I'm not sure if it was last week's dalliance with boozy baking or my new found infatuation with all spirits agave-based but there was just something about this White Chocolate-Mezcal Ice Cream from Fiesta at Rick's by Rick Bayless that really drew me in. For me, mezcal has always been a grown-up version of tequila, with strong, smokey flavors that are reminiscent of scotch.
And white chocolate? Well, diehard chocolate fans are quick to dismiss it as one-dimensional and overly sweet but I've always enjoyed it. Somehow I knew these two seemingly discordant ingredients would be an ideal match.
The ice cream starts out with a custard base made from half-and-half, white chocolate, egg yolks, and sugar whisked together over a double boiler until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Once the custard base is chilled it is mixed with heavy cream, vanilla, and a few tablespoons of mezcal, then placed into the ice cream maker.
After a drawn-out freezing process due to the exceedingly warm temperature in my kitchen, I froze the ice cream overnight and waited until morning to sample the final product.
At first taste it was full of buttery white chocolate but slowly the warmth of the mezcal emerged and it was pretty incredible. The ice cream was sweet and creamy with a distinctly warm and smokey backbone, and even a little kick. It was one of those desserts that starts out delicious, then becomes intriguing, something to not only savor but really think about.
This White Chocolate-Mezcal Ice Cream is a wonderful and cooling way to end a week of inspired recipes from Rick Bayless, and a flavor combination that I'm pretty sure only he could come up with.
Win Fiesta at Rick's
As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Fiesta at Rick's to give away this week.
- 1 cup half-and-half
- 4 ounces pure white chocolate, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
- 4 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 1/3 cups heavy cream
- 2 tablespoon Oaxacan mexcal
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, preferably Mexican vanilla
Set up a double boiler:Set up a 4-quart saucepan with 1 inch of water. Choose a 3-quart stainless steel bowl that you can nestle into the pan without touching the water. Bring the pot of water to a boil over high heat while you're preparing the custard base.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm the half-and-half until it steams. Spread the chocolate into a thin layer over the bottom of a bowl, then pour on the warm half-and-half. Stir until the white chocolate has begun to melt. In the stainless steel bowl that is part of your double boiler, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until thoroughly combined, then whisk in the chocolate mixture. Reduce the temperature under the pot of water to maintain a gentle simmer. Set the bowl of custard base over the simmering water and whisk frequently, scraping down the sides of the bowl regularly with a rubber spatula, until the mixture thickens noticeably, about 5 minutes. The custard is sufficiently cooked when it reaches 180 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. (You can also test it by dipping a wooden spoon into the custard, then running your finger through the custard: if the line holds clearly, the custard has thickened sufficiently.) For the finest texture, pour the custard through a fine-mesh strainer into a similar-size stainless steel bowl.
Fill a large bowl halfway with ice. Nestle the custard into the ice and whisk regularly until completely cool. Refrigerate if not using immediately.