Saturday, April 23, 2011


What this title breaks down into is Dark Chocolate Ice Cream with Farmer Boys and Chili Chocolate Chunks. Whew! That was a mouthful.
We start out with an old Ducth recipe for Boere Jongens. This translates into "Farmer Boys". Yes, another recipe from Grandmother Jeanette's kitchen. The French would call it massicated fruit. As romantic as the French language sounds, that isn't a good example of it. This recipe especially interested me because Grandma's idea of alcohol was to "take a little" by way of 1 Tablespoon at bedtime. And she only did this until an insufferable part of menopause had passed, for Grandma never did 'hit the sauce'.
These babies are raisins boiled to a plump, drained loosely and put into jars, soused in brandy with a cinnamon stick for at least 2-2 1/2 weeks. And it is well worth the wait. Hey, Lekker! Is it ever.


2 lbs. dark raisins
2 cups sugar
Water for soaking and boiling (use same water for both)
One stick cinnamon per jar
750 ml Christian Brothers or E & J Brandy, (or a good quality whiskey)

1. In a collander, wash the raisins thoroughly. Rinse and rinse and rinse, stirring the raisins around with your fingers, until no more flecks show up in the sink. Set aside and let drain.
2. Put raisins into deep, stainless steel pot and cover to 2" above raisins with lukewarm water. Set aside and let soak for several hours (about 4 hours).
3. Add sugar and stir it up.

4. Bring to just below the boiling point, then simmer slowly for 10-15 minutes to plump them up. Remove from heat and cool to lukewarm. When ready, drain by 90% and discard water. Put into a very big jar (1 gallon) or a few regular jars 2/3 full and add a stick of cinnamon into each jar. If you use one big jar, use two sticks. Fill jar(s) almost to brim with the brandy. Give it a gentle stir to incorporate all raisins, then cover with airtight lid, or almost airtight.

5. At the very least, these should should be aged in 2 weeks. They are even better at 2 1/2 weeks. Keep in a cool, dark place, but NOT the refrigerator.
Note: You will be using only 2 cups of the raisins in the ice cream. You can use the remainder as is, served up elegantly in crystal stemware with a pretty spoon. Or you can mash it up in a blender and add to cake batter or filling, or cookie dough. If making filled cupcakes, you can fill the plug holes with drained raisins, or mix them up with Bavarian cream and fill in the plug holes. You choose.

HOMEMADE ICE CREAM vs. STORE-BOUGHT: Seaweed and anti-freeze?
I am one of those people who, when asked to come up with flavors for macarons or ice cream, can rattle off several ideas in a mere minute. Some ideas will stick long enough to write them down while others vaporize in a senior moment.
This particular ice cream recipe came to me as I was torturing my dear friend Meesh Buddha over the telephone with food thoughts. When I got to the chili chocolate chunks, she laughed out a somewhat half-meant, "STOP IT!" (You know you want it, Meesh.) What she meant was that it was making her hungry, and she had to wait until her next trip down the mountain summit into the city to buy the good stuff. And, well, why waste time making it when she could simply pop off the lid and dig right in? I can always rely on her for common sense, after all. It seems odd to lump in an artist with common sense. But please to know that she is one hell of an artist with the vision to get things done rather than lollygag into minutae which is only appreciated by the ones who would pick it all apart anyway, unable or unwilling to see the forest for the trees. She even knew the secret to the Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test and painted the bus. (The secret being that there was no LSD in the Kool-Aid.) And back in those days, many a hippie tried and failed to make an homemade ice cream beyond slop in those wooden churn buckets. Come to think of it, hippies were the only ones I knew who experimented with ice cream,...along with other things.
Today, we have ice cream making machines for the home kitchen and recipes taught by hatted chefs, and great bakers and fabulous food photographers with food blogs, and recipe books authored by all three said types of fun persons to learn from. And I adore them all for different reasons because I am an artist who complicates things. The reasons have to be different, otherwise I would grow bored, move on, and miss out. As Baskin Robbins or Ben & Jerry's can tell you, what makes the ice cream creamy is the high content of butterfat. Who could argue against such a profundity? This is also what makes the ice cream more expensive. You are not going to save money by making your own. And just like any other food, ice cream can only be as good as the ingredients put into it. And yes, it IS a food. For this chocolate ice cream, I insist on using Lindt & Sprungli, Lindt Excellence Bars.

Oh, yeah. I do love Belcolade Bittersweet and Valrhona and Callebaut. Who wouldn't? But Lindt is my favorite chocolate on the whole planet. So there. If you are not yet familiar with chili-infused chocolate, prepare for a delightful surprise. I would describe this as a delicate suggestion of chili that sneaks up on you and bites you just enough to tease you. It is not nearly strong enough to burn or to hurt. Like the feminine perogative, it is only a tease, and the flavor is enough to satisfy our inner bitch.
Pink Elephants coffee Cafe
Makes 1 quart or slightly more

8 oz. dark chocolate (Lindt 85%, or 90%, or both)
1 1/2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
pinch salt
4 large egg yolks
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
4 Tbsp. Christian Brothers or E&J Brandy
2 cups Boere Jongens
1/2 cup Lindt Excellence Chili Chocolate, chopped into small chips (optional)

1. Finely chop the 85% or 90% dark chocolate and put into a large bowl, place strainer on top lip of bowl and set aside.
2. In a larger bowl or the sink, make a bain marie (ice bath) to use later. You don't want the ice cubes so big that they tip the bowl on its side and get water in the chocolate. Water will make the chocolate seize, so, NO WATER IN THE CHOCOLATE.
3. In a medium saucepan with a heavy (thick) bottom, warm the whole milk, sugar and the pinch of salt.
4. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks.
5. When the milk mixture is warm, SLOWLY pour almost half of it over the egg yolks, whisking constantly to warm them without cheesing them up. With a heatproof spatula, scrape this mixture back into the pan of remaining milk mixture and cook GENTLY, stirring constantly until the custard becomes thick and coats the back of the spatula (about 6 minutes).
6. Remove from heat and immediately pour through strainer over the chopped chocolate and quickly stir the custard pressing it through the strainer, and then stir the mixture with the chocolate until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Discard the lumpy custard residue that's in the strainer, rinsing it off immediately with hot water, not letting it harden in the wire mesh. Immerse into hot, soapy water to clean. I can't stress that enough.
7. Whisk the heavy cream and the brandy into the mixture. Place the bowl on top of the ice water bath and, holding the bowl safely upright with one hand, stir until cooled (10 min.).
8. Pour into an airtight container and chill in refrigerator 8 hours, or overnight.
9. Remove from fridge and, if the custard is too thick to pour, just whisk it until it is smooth again and proceed.
10. If using, chop the chili chocolate pieces very small and set aside.
11. Freeze the custard in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instruction, about 23 minutes. Pour into large bowl and stir in the chili chocolate pieces and the 2 cups brandied raisins. (It is tempting to use more chocolate chips, but this ice cream really hardens and more chocolate would make it difficult to scoop neatly into a nice, round shape, and the flavor would be too rich. We are aiming for nuances of flavor and texture.)
12. Pour the mixture into a plastic, airtight container and put into the freezer for 8 hours or overnight.
13. Let sit at room temperature for a little over 5 minutes to soften before you scoop and serve.
Note: I've never managed to hang onto them long enough to know for sure, but the raisins should keep in a cool, dry cupboard for about three months in airtight glass jars.


1 comment:

  1. The raisins look delicious-I always like it when they're plumped up in rum and raisin ice cream so that ice cream flavour totally makes sense :)