Heston Blumenthal has recently created a range of ice creams for Waitrose, including chocolate and rosemary ice cream. I got the chance to try this, along with popcorn ice cream at Waitrose’s Summer party held at the V&A. I was mesmerised by the taste, deeply rich and chocolatey, but with a smooth herbal note. It’s reminiscent of choc-mint ice cream as it provides a similar mentholesque flavour, but remains distinctly rosemary-y.
At the event I also realised a big dream of mine – to meet Heston. OK, we didn’t swap phone numbers or make plans to go see Pirates 4. But I did manage to tell him what an inspiration he is to me and how much I enjoy his work. He seemed genuinely appreciative, not merely saying thanks and walking off but keen to express his gratitude.
Gushing aside, I had to try and recreate that ice cream flavour that I’d sampled. I was looking to marry that rich smoothness with a warm herb flavour. After some experimenting I’m confident that I’ve nailed it. It’s chocolatey, creamy and really interesting. It would be a good one to wheel out when friends are over for dinner as all the prep is well beforehand and you only need a little to satisfy. It’s really nice with crushed pistachios. A quick tip – this needs a good twenty minutes defrosting to get smooth and easily scooped, so remove it from the freezer just as you serve the main meal.
Be warned: bring your whisking arm with you.
You can probably make this with an ice cream maker but I’ve never owned one so I can’t help you there. A lot of people go for the ‘ break it up with a fork several times during freezing’ but it’s never made any noticeable improvement to me, so I don’t bother.
Chocolate and rosemary ice cream (makes about 600 ml in volume):
40g cocoa powder
1 large sprig of rosemary
500 ml whole milk
125g dark chocolate (about 70% cocoa solids)
¼ teaspoon vanilla salt
6 egg yolks
100g caster sugar + 6 tablespoons caster sugar
100ml double cream
- Put the milk into a saucepan and pop over a medium heat. Roll up the rosemary but leave it intact (this friction breaks the surface of the herb and causes it to leak more oil). Whisk the cocoa into the milk as it heats, and keep whisking until the milk just reaches the boil. Take off the heat.
- Melt the chocolate. You can use a bain marie for this if you like but personally I find it less faff to use a microwave on low power. Zap it for 2 minutes at a time until smooth.
- Whisk the egg yolks and 100g sugar together until a pale ivory colour and thick. Add the hot milk to the yolks gradually, whisking all the time. Return the mixture back to the saucepan and put back on a gentle heat. Keep on whisking and add the melted chocolate, and whisk for a further 5 minutes until thickened. Again turn off the heat and leave to one side while you make a caramel.
- Melt the 6 tablespoons sugar with 2 tablespoons water over a medium heat. Swirl the saucepan round to combine but do not stir. Keep it going until it turns a lovely amber colour, then add the double cream and keep on swirling. When the caramel is smooth add to the chocolate milk, again with the whisking. Pour through a sieve into a freezable container and freeze at least overnight before serving.