Life by Chocolate

Chocolate, white, milk, dark, in all its forms forms life. Chocolate truffles, caramels, and other confections are at the core of enjoyment. This is life by chocolate because death by chocolate is the wrong attitude.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Is it possible for chocolate ice cream to be too chocolaty?

The short answer to that question posed by Sensitive Pantry on twitter is Yes.

RT "@SensitivePantry Is it possible for chocolate ice cream to be too chocolaty? (I thought I'd ask an expert but others can chime in, too.)"

It is always possible to go over the top with anything. I have to remind young chefs that over salting is over salting, to lay off the sugar, to let the natural flavors of the dish they are creating shine through. Too many ingredients, if not well thought out, will muddy. Too much salt will repel the taste buds. One should never taste pepper or salt it should support the flavors. And finally, too much chocolate is a chocolate ganache or milk chocolate not chocolate ice cream. Chocolate should blend in harmony with the ice cream base.

Ice cream is just that, ice cream. It's the American dessert. No matter were or when it was invented, it's still the quintessential American dessert. And what is ice cream? It's a frozen dessert containing sugar and cream and usually some flavoring. So, my ice cream is very rich. I use cream and half and half with lots of egg yolks and some sugar. But when I put in that flavoring, I try to find a balance between the ice cream itself and the flavoring and that include chocolate. The key is balance.

Great food and especially great desserts are a balance of flavors. The Chinese have desserts that are almost savory, salted dried plums come to mind. It's considered a confection. When we make our sticky rice dessert, post coming, I have to sweeten it up for American palates and even provide some maple syrup on the side.

Each culture's flavor balance is unique and this is what defines a cuisine. However, balance is the key.

So, too much chocolate? Is that possible? Yes. Ice cream isn't ganache and it isn't milk chocolate. You have to know you are eating ice cream. Nor should a dessert be super sweet. It needs to be in harmony with it's ingredients. Let me repeat that. The concept, the idea of a dessert needs to be in harmony with it's ingredients. Cherry pie should taste like cherry pie and the cherry must be fresh. Ice cream should taste like ice cream. Tomato soup should sing tomato, not scream it in a salty, peppery parsley voice.

How does one train one's palate to find a refined balance? By eating great food and no, KFC doesn't count as great food. (It barely counts as food. The same for all fast foods.) Restraint, balance and refinement. That's what makes a great chocolate ice cream. That's what makes any great dish.

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