I have to admit, I'm a picky eater. I've definitely gotten better about it as I've gotten older, but there are still a lot of things that I don't like to eat. This is a big contrast to my husband Jamie, who eats just about anything. Fortunately, one of the few things that he won't eat is very high on my list as well. Coconut. Neither of us can stand it. I don't like the flavor or the texture. And I'm sensitive enough to it to be able to pick it out even when it's not obvious to others. Yuck. =) If my children ever learn to like coconut, it won't be because they got it at home, because I don't let it in the house. Almond Joys that come home in trick-or-treat bags? I immediately take them to work. I break open filled chocolates before eating them because I don't want to risk biting into a coconut one. I once had one of my employees request German Chocolate Cake for his birthday. Now I try to honor all requests, so I did make it, but I took the leftover coconut to work along with the cake so it wouldn't be in the house any longer.
So why all this talk of coconut hatred? Well, I got a new cookbook about a week ago, Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home. When we were on vacation in Ohio recently, we had a chance to go to one of the Jeni's shops. The ice cream was fabulous, and I was excited to learn that she was about to release a cookbook. I ordered it as soon as we got home. There are lots of wonderful flavor combinations in the book, but I was also excited to read about some of the stuff in the back of it--various mix-ins and sauces. The one that immediately caught my eye was the Chocolate Bombe Shell. Basically, it's homemade Magic Shell! I mentioned this to a couple people at work and was disturbed to find that they had no idea what I was talking about. It's not that the flavor of Magic Shell is that great, but the texture is so cool. And now I can make it at home with my favorite bittersweet chocolate. There was only one problem--the ingredient that makes it magic is coconut oil. No!
But then I read further and learned that there are a couple types of coconut oil out there. Virgin, or unrefined, coconut oil does taste like coconut. Blech. But the refined version isn't supposed to taste or smell like it. I admit, I remained skeptical, but I went to Whole Foods and found a jar of refined coconut oil. I was excited when I got it home and found that it actually didn't seem to have anything to do with coconut--no smell or taste of it!
Of course, I also needed some ice cream to put it on. The first Jeni's flavor I tried was vanilla bean. I actually found the recipe online before my book got here. The one pictured here, though, is one of Jeni's signature flavors, Salty Caramel. I never used to make or eat a lot of caramel things, but then I discovered how much better caramel is with salt added. Mmmm.
The basic approach in these recipes is to use cornstarch for thickening, rather than egg yolks. I don't have anything against egg custard ice creams, but it's nice not to have to worry about "orphaned" egg whites. Jeni also uses corn syrup and cream cheese in most of her recipes to make the texture similar to what she creates in her commercial kitchen. I highly encourage you to get a copy of the book, but you can also find the basic technique online, since Jeni did an article a while back for Food & Wine. The main difference for the Salty Caramel recipe is that the sugar in the recipe is first heated to make a dry caramel. Then the cream, milk and corn syrup (2 tablespoons, rather than 1 1/2) are added and the recipe proceeds as usual. Half a teaspoon of salt is added to the cream cheese before the liquids are whisked in, and the recipe uses 2 teaspoons of vanilla rather than a vanilla bean.
The verdict? The chocolate shell is just amazing. I can't believe how easy it is to make. And it's been very tasty on a variety of ice cream flavors, including the Salty Caramel. I've made several caramel ice creams, and I think this one may be my favorite. Jamie liked it a lot as well. The girls didn't try this ice cream flavor, but they both liked the chocolate shell. We'll definitely be making both again. And I can't wait to try more flavors from my new cookbook. I've decided that this is going to be Ice Cream Week here in Di's Kitchen, so watch for more to come. I'm not going to publish the Salty Caramel ice cream recipe here, but you can find Jeni's Vanilla Bean one here to get you started.
Chocolate Bombe Shell
(adapted from Jeni's)
170 grams (6 ounces) bittersweet chocolate (I used El Rey, a mix of 58% and 70%), chopped
30 grams (2-3 tablespoons) refined coconut oil
Place the chocolate in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on 50% power for 2 minutes, then stir until the chocolate is fully melted. Add the coconut oil and stir until smooth.