Whenever I look back at childhood photos, I always get a kick out of the number of pictures of me with a dog or cat (or bunny or goat, because we had those at different points too) at my side and chocolate all over my face. These days it’s not much different. I usually have Honey and Barley at my side or on my lap…and chocolate on my face. It’s less chocolate than when I was little and looked like I dipped my face in a big bowl of it, but it was clear from an early age that I love chocolate. It’s for this reason that I highly recommend re-visiting old, sometimes embarrassing childhood photos every so often. They give great insight into what made us happy then, and those are often things that will make us happy today.
I like my chocolate in all forms, and especially in ice cream. And when I think back to the best chocolate ice cream of my life, it was during our brief stint in San Francisco. The everyday felt very hard there and I was homesick for Boston, and so Aaron and I would trek all around the city on the weekends trying to find moments of relief and tasting what locals considered “the best” food – bread, baked goods, and my favorite — ice cream.
True to form, we had to drive across the city, circle the neighborhood a handful of times to find parking, and then wait in line for half an hour, but even being down on the city, this ice cream felt worth it. It was so rich and decadent, with that perfect level of bitter and sweet, all sprinkled with flaky sea salt to make it sing. This shop was known both for its quirky and sophisticated flavors and toppings, and so I somewhat skeptically ordered mine with the topping people were raving about: extra virgin olive oil.
I still think about that ice cream three years later, and I’ve finally perfected my own without the dairy. It’s so simple too, and really comes down to the quality of the ingredients and also the method I’ve detailed below. Sure, you could lighten this up with a different base, but that’s not what I was trying to do here. I wanted something that felt over-the-top indulgent, which is why I poured a very generous glug of fruity extra virgin olive oil into the chocolatey coconut cream, in addition to using it as a topping.
This might just be my best ice cream to date.
- Add the coconut milk, cacao powder, coconut sugar, coconut nectar, and ⅛ teaspoon sea salt to a medium saucepan and whisk to combine. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Let boil for 1 minute and continue to stir with the whisk. Remove from the heat.
- Pour the mixture into a medium mixing bowl. Whisk in the olive oil and vodka and allow it to cool on the counter for 45 minutes, whisking occasionally to release steam and help it cool, and then refrigerate until cold (about 1 hour).
- Once chilled, pour the mixture into your ice cream maker, and freeze according to your ice cream maker’s instructions (about 20 minutes) until just frozen. The texture will resemble soft-serve.
- Transfer the ice cream to a freezer-safe container, laying parchment paper along the top to prevent ice crystals, and allow it to harden in the freezer for 3-4 hours, or until it reaches your desired consistency.
- To serve, let the ice cream sit at room temperature for 3-4 minutes, then scoop and serve with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of flaky sea salt.
Photography by Aaron Scott