I don't know how I did it. I survived Christmas without craving or eating chocolate. But I think the subtle chocolate messages being sent out for Valentine Day did it. I started craving chocolate ice cream two weeks ago. I made the lovely medium dark spicy chocolate from Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream book. It includes a bit of cinnamon and cayenne pepper which makes it a lovely warm chocolate - perfect for mid-January. In her book it is called "Queen City Cayenne".
We polished off the first batch and I got a craving for hazelnuts with the chocolate. Two of my favorite gelatos are Gianduja and Baci. I love the Gianduja chocolate squares from Leonidas chocolates in Holland. Hmmm...
There wasn't a specific recipe for Chocolate Hazelnut ice cream in the book. I googled around and found several using Nutella but that wasn't the flavor I was looking for. Nutella is a little too sweet. I remembered an technique that was used in the book for making pistachio ice cream. She roasted the pistachios and then ground them in a food process until they formed a paste. Ding!
I decided to use the chocolate recipe minus the spices and add the hazelnut paste. I'd also add a tablespoon of Frangelico for flavoring. And to make it extra special, I'd also add melted dark chocolate at the end to make chocolate freckles/chips to give it that dark chocolate crunch similar to Baci.
Let's just say it was fabulous!
Chocolate Hazelnut Ice Cream
Based loosely on Queen City Cayenne from Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream
1/2 cup shelled unsalted hazelnuts
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1 1/2 oz bittersweet chocolate finely chopped
Ice Cream Base
2 cups whole milk
1 Tbs + 1 tsp cornstarch
1 1/2 oz (3 Tbs) cream cheese, softened
1/8 tsp fine sea salt
1 1/4 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
2 Tbs light corn syrup
1 Tbs Frangelico
2 oz bittersweet chocolate
Preheat oven to 350 F. Spread 1/2 cup hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast in oven for 10-12 minute until just starting to brown. Remove, cool slightly and whirl in a food processor until the hazelnuts become a smooth paste.
Combine cocoa, sugar and water in a saucepan, bring to a boil stirring to dissolve sugar and boil for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and add the chopped chocolate stirring until smooth. Set aside.
Mix about 2 TBS of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl.
Whisk together the cream cheese, hazelnut paste, salt and warm chocolate paste in a medium bowl until smooth.
Combine the remaining milk, cream, sugar and corn syrup in saucepan, bringing to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch mixture.
Bring the mixture back to a boil over medium high heat and cook stirring until slightly thickened - about 1 minute.
Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese mixture until smooth. Stir in Frangelico and chill until cold.
Pour in to frozen canister and start to spin to freeze the ice cream. While it is freezing, melt the bittersweet chocolate for the freckles and let cool until tepid but still fluid.
When the ice cream is thick and almost finished, drizzle the melted chocolate slowly through the opening in the top of the ice cream machine and allow it to solidify and break up in the ice cream for about 2 minutes.
Pack into storage container and seal. Freeze in freezer until firm - about 4 hours.
Hazelnuts after whirling in food processor to make a paste