I don't know how it happened, but I lost some of my love for chocolate. It became too heavy, too waxy on the tongue. Be it Hershey's kisses or Valrhona 71%, the dark stuff just didn't stir my heart up like it did. Maybe, I thought, I need a break.
But some relationships are too important to let fall by the wayside. And breaks turn into months of awkward phone calls that no one enjoys but neither can end it. I couldn't let that come between me and cacao. How could I repair this life-long relationship?
Maybe all it needed was some redefinition, a little less exclusivity. Chocolate tends toward bossiness. Whenever it's around, it hogs the spotlight, making it difficult for other ingredients to show their love. So I decided to play with chocolate more as a seasoning than a primary flavor, something to enhance another ingredient rather than overpower it.
Beets may sound like an unlikely candidate for an ice cream, but they share chocolate's earthy, fruity sweetness, enhanced all the more so by roasting them first. Mixing beets with chocolate and churning them into ice cream dampens their funky qualities; this ice cream tastes more of marshmallow than vegetable, with only the subtle aftertaste of chocolate.
It's an ice cream for beet lovers, but if you want to turn up the volume on the chocolate, feel free to add a few more tablespoons of cocoa powder (keep in mind the chocolate flavor dials down as the custard cools and ages).
This ice cream casts chocolate in a supporting role, letting the honesty of beet shine through with an added push of something special. The result? Chocolate and I are in a much better place. We may now have an open relationship, but at least we've been saved from the dreaded "It's Complicated."
Ethan Frisch is the chef and co-mastermind behind Guerrilla Ice Cream. He's traveled around the world (30 countries, 5 continents) and worked as a pastry chef and line cook in some of NYC's great (and not so great) restaurants. He currently lives in London, where he really misses New York City tap water.
Max Falkowitz writes Serious Eats' weekly Spice Hunting column. He's a proud native of Queens, New York, will do just about anything for a good cup of tea, and enjoys long walks down the aisles of Chinese groceries.
- Yield:10 to 12 (makes about 5 1/2 cups)
- Active time: 45 minutes
- Total time:1 3/4 hours (plus an overnight chill)
- 2/3 pound roasted, peeled beets, diced into 1/2 inch cubes (about 3 medium)
- 3 cups half and half (or 1 1/2 cups each cream and whole milk)
- 6 egg yolks
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons (or to taste: see note) high-quality Dutch-process cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
- 2 ounces dark chocolate, shaved on a vegetable peeler
In a three quart saucepan, combine beets and half and half. Simmer on low heat until a paring knife twisted into a beet easily cuts it apart, about half an hour. While pot is simmering, whisk together egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl until light in color and thickened.
Transfer beet mixture to a blender and purée until very smooth. If your blender lid comes with a stopper for a hole in the lid, remove the stopper and cover with a few sheets of paper towel while blending—this will keep the hot liquid from bursting out while blending.
Return beet mixture to saucepan over low heat and thoroughly whisk in cocoa and a pinch of salt. Slowly pour 1/3 of beet mixture into egg mixture, whisking constantly, then transfer everything back to saucepan. Heat below a simmer, stirring frequently, until mixture thickens enough such that a finger swiped across the back of a coated spoon leaves a clean line. Pour through a strainer into an airtight container, add orange zest, stir to combine, and let chill over night.
The next day, churn in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. In the last minute of churning, slowly add shaved chocolate. Ice cream is best eaten as soft-serve. If storing for later, let thaw on a counter for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.