Thursday, May 31, 2012

Paris, Berthillon,and Robin Weir's Ultimate Chocolate Ice Cream

For me, Memorial Day weekend is best when spent with my friends, Kath and Trev up in Vermont on their farm.  We garden and cook and eat and cook and eat and … you get the idea. When we are not making food we are usually discussing itDuring one exuberant conversation about Paris, the topic of ice cream came up (we make a lot of ice cream and sorbets there –– they have an enormous machine that makes perfect ices like blackberry, mango, and my own recipe for madeira vanilla).

When you talk about ice cream and Paris, you talk about Berthillon.  Since 1954, the shop on the Ile Saint-Louis has been the destination for ice cream lovers operated by the Chauvin family (non-stop lines snake out along the street –– a pretty good indicator of the glories that await within the shop).  All the ingredients are the finest to be had –– seasonal fruit  comes from local suppliers at Rungis, exotics are relentlessly sourced until the best is obtained (chocolate, vanilla, etc).  I read on Yelp that a local once said the ice cream at Berthillon tasted like children’s laughter –– does it get better than that?

Knowing the wonders of Berthillon first hand, when I saw the recipe for the Ultimate Chocolate Ice Cream that purported to be as good as Bertillon, I had to try it.

I found it in a charming book called Frozen Desserts: The Definitive Guide to Making Ice Creams, Ices, Sorbets, Gelati, and Other Frozen Delights by Caroline Liddell and Robin Weir.  I met Robin at the Oxford Symposium last year when he decorated an ice cream tree in July before an audience with enormous panache.  Such courage is impressive (ice cream molds in July, terrifying!) but then Weir is obsessed with all things ice cream.  His collection of ice cream molds was dizzying… all of the fruit shapes and colors made for a very splendid tree (a tree frame was hung with multiples of 10 or 12 different fruit ice creams in the shape and color of many fruits –– terribly charming.

Weir began his ice cream odyssey in the 1980s when he was horrified at the ingredient list in a tub of ice cream he inspected in his grocery cart ––you know, emulsifiers, stabilizers, dextrose etc.  It was scary stuff that had nothing to do with pure, simple ice cream.  He began looking into the roots of ice cream and the beauty of fresh ingredients and came up with a stellar book.  Not to rest on his laurels, 12 years and  “millions of calories later",  he went on to write another great book and best seller  that came out last year, ICE CREAMS, SORBETS AND GELATI: The Definitive Guide, filled with 400 recipes for all skill levels as well as more glorious history of ices from all over England and Europe and even America (the older book I have is also full of wonderful stories and great recipes).  I recommend his books… they are indispensable when you are in the mood for the best ice cream ever.  This is killer chocolate and the trick with the cocoa is genius.  For it to be as good as Berthillon, it would have to be eaten in Paris (location, location, location).  Absent that –– this is great chocolate –– one of the best I've had.

The Ultimate Chocolate Ice Cream inspired by Bertillon, Paris from Robin Weir

5 T Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder (alkalized)
½ C minus 1 T sugar
1 ½ c milk
5 ¼ oz semi-sweet chocolate
3 egg yolks
1 t vanilla extract
1 t instant espresso granules (recipe called for coffee granules, I like the darkness of espresso)
¼ c sugar syrup*
1 c whipping cream (36% fat)
1-2 t of Armagnac, cognac or rum (optional)
rose geranium leaves for garnish (they taste great with chocolate, mint would work too)

*½ c water + 5/8 c sugar, heated till sugar dissolves.  This will make you more than you need.

Combine the cocoa and ½ the sugar.  Pour in enough milk to make a paste and then bring the rest of the milk to a boil.  Pour the hot milk into the cocoa mixture then return all to the pan under very low heat (Weir recommends a heat diffuser for this).  Simmer very, very slowly for 6 minutes stirring constantly. Liddell/Weir say this is what rids the cocoa of its powdery flavor.  Remove from the heat and add chopped chocolate.

Whisk eggs and the rest of the sugar till pale.  Then pour the chocolate into the mix and return to the pan. Stir till it slowly reaches 185º.    Add sugar syrup and coffee and liquor and put mixture over an ice bowl until cooled.  Strain and put in fridge.  Add the cream to the mix and use the ice cream machine.  When ready, put into container.  Top with plastic and cover.  Serve after 2 hours or remove from freezer 20-25 minutes before serving.  This ice cream is best and most flavorful when it is soft ––I think most ice creams are.



Mouth watering ice cream recipes. Unfortunately I didn't know about the Berthillion when I was there... Ahh next time perhaps .. I enjoy your posts

Pam said...

Ice cream that tastes like children's laughter. I want some.

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

HOLY COW. If this is what you produce just as a regular blog post, I cannot WAIT to see what you are cooking up for the Paris Link PARTAAAAAY!!! Oh dear, this has to be a recipe that will curl your hair...I love chocolate........

My dear friend, YOU TOO LOVE MR. PECK???? I am not one to drool over movie stars, but this gent does have class not just for his looks, but the character that he was consistent in portraying throughout his life. Isn't Roman Holiday a fun film? It reminds me to make every moment count with my husband who treats me like a princess every day, no matter what we are doing.

Speaking of which, I think I shall go be with him now and have some CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM!!! LOVE! Anita

La Table De Nana said...

I know you love visiting your friends at the farm:) I remember!

The ice cream is beautiful..not easy to photo and yet yours is a glamour shot!

Zimbabwe said...

Perfect timing forgot to buy ice cream when at the shops this morning :) Diane

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Oooooooo......I can SEE in my mind's eye what you are plotting and I cannot WAIT. Dearest, you are so fabulous. I LOVE YOUR WIT AND MIND! Ahhh....I have only next week to go, three days of it actually, then OFF FOR THE SUMMER AM I! No more teaching, but now I will face the realities of the difficulty of an artist and a wannabe writer! YIKES! But for now, let's go to Paris, and EAT WELL! I know I will when I come here next week to see YOU!


SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

I doubt there is a better flavor than chocolate ice cream. It's my favorite, at least. This sounds like an amazing recipe and I can't wait to try it.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Oh I must give this a try when the weather warms up! And I was just at the Ile St Louis and enjoying some Berthillon ice cream last week! Superb stuff that it is :) I can't finish any ice cream except for theirs :)

Fresh Local and Best said...

That ice cream looks sensational. I bet ice cream does taste better when you are on vacation in Paris. I will have to stop by at Berthillion for an authentic experience.

Barbara said...

Oh yeah! :)
I remember my first taste of Berthillon. My daughter introduced me to it in the 70's. In Florence, actually. She's not an ice cream addict, but knows I am. Totally divine.
If this recipe even slightly resembles it, I'll try it, chocolate or not!

Blond Duck said...

So pretty!

Jenn Kendall said...

that ice cream sounds absolutely amazing, i need to try!

Sarah said...

I do not have a great chocolate ice cream recipe. I will be making this recipe this summer, for sure. It sounds very, very chocolatey!

tasteofbeirut said...

My favorite flavor at Berthillon was cassis and nougat! I miss it. Here in Beirut the most famous one is made by a couple in their late seventies (or eighties?) by hand in their tiny little shop; you sit and watch them roasting almonds and hulling berries, etc.. they make arabic ice-cream which is a little gummy and like a sorbet, even the chocolate one.

Anne said...

Gorgeous photography and styling!

Jonny said...

How delightful! We stumbled upon berthillon a few years ago after visiting notre dame but didn't go inside, just salivated at the window. By way of an excuse it was mid-February and bitterly cold so ice cream wasn't high on our lit at the time. Lovely presentation. We'd put espresso grounds in there over regular coffee too.

Nicole said...

Thank you so much for this recipe! My husband and I went to Berthillion during our trip to Paris. This recipe is as close as I have found to their luscious creations! I made it tonight as a surprise for my husband. It turned out so beautifully, I cannot wait to share it with him!

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