What happens when you take an excellent chocolate ice cream recipe, halve it, and accidentally double the salt? Inadvertent deliciousness happens. A few weeks ago, I tried out the “milkiest chocolate ice cream” recipe (see it here) from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams At Home, the Ohio ice cream purveyor’s eponymous cookbook. Having just a pint of cream on hand, I made a half-recipe, but somehow I ended up using 1/2 teaspoon of salt, rather than 1/8 teaspoon.
A mistake of pure genius, in retrospect.
Jeni’s (yes, she’s real; see her here) ice cream recipes are eggless, unlike old-fashioned cooked custard ice cream bases. She relies instead on a milk and cream base reduced by boiling, thickened with cornstarch and cream cheese; the formula includes a small amount of corn syrup to inhibit ice crystals in the finished product. Her process does require a specific set of cooking and chilling steps, but it isn’t technique-intensive or overly complicated. (Translation: you will need to measure and follow instructions, but you won’t need any special knowledge, or ingredients or equipment not found at your local WalMart. Assuming you own an ice cream freezer, but you can probably find that at WalMart anyway.)
Back to my accidentally salted ice cream. The salt, noticeable but not overpowering, increased the chocolate’s intensity. Think of chocolate-coated pretzels, or salted toffee or caramel; the salty-sweet duo somehow magnifies each flavor in the ice cream. I’m a big fan of salted caramel in any form, and I adore De Rubeis salted milk chocolate bars….this serendipitously salty chocolate ice cream was a damn fine accident.
Ice creams made from Jeni’s recipes remain ice-crystal free far longer than typical homemade frozen desserts, though the chocolate version freezes quite solidly and benefits from a brief thaw before scooping. I also attempted a vanilla frozen yogurt recipe with less than stellar results, which were entirely my fault. The recipe clearly specified greek yogurt, plus an added step of draining the yogurt, which I skipped. My fro-yo results were icy and hard; I’m sure the texture would have been lovely, if I had bothered to follow directions….no serendipity working in my favor THAT day.