just desserts: theobroma ice cream with ground cherries

Recently my husband and I toured the Dogfish Head Craft Brewery in Milton, Delaware. After the tour and beer tasting we purchased quite a few interesting brews. Upon returning home we experienced the heat wave that hit much of the US. Scorching heat is best served with an ice cold beer for the over 21 crowd or ice cream for the under 21 crowd. Why not combine the two for an amazing (adult) summer treat.

Dogfish Head Brewery produces what are known as “craft” brews. To be defined as a craft brewer output must be 6 million barrels or less. This figure was only recently changed by the Brewer’s Association from 2 million barrels to 6 million barrels, allowing craft brewers to expand their production.

Visit the Dogfish Head website and you will be able to read about the many varieties of beer that they produce, buy for the sake of brevity I will limit my discussion to a few key points and one beer in particular. Before I continue I’d like to state that when I departed the brewery I left with the refreshing sense that the company is run in an eco-friendly as well as a people-friendly manner. I have no doubt that the feeling of community at Dogfish Head allows for the ingenuity behind its beer.

The creativity of the craft beers floored me. The names such as Namaste, Immort Ale, Midas Touch, Hellhound on my Ale and, one of my favorite names, “My Antonia”, which is a nod to Willa Cather’s novel of the same name, are fun. (I named my cat the “My Antonia” as I adopted her while reading the novel so seeing it on the label made me smile.)

The ingredients are ingenious. For example, as most wine connoisseurs understand, much flavor will come from the barrels in which the wine is aged. At Dogfish Head while there are two large oak brewing vessels there is also a 10,000 gallon vessel made from Palo Santo wood, shipped directly from Paraguay. Palo Santo means “holy tree” and “its wood has been used in South American wine-making”. The flavors of the Palo Santo Marron are testament to Dogfish Head’s cleverness.

It is hard to put my finger on my favorite beer, but for a number of reasons, I quite enjoy Theobroma. The name caught my attention, but it was the history of the beer itself as well as the ingredients that quickly made this brew my favorite. As I cannot go into the detail with much less ado than the write up on the Dogfish Head website I will simply quote:
Theobroma is “based on chemical analysis of pottery fragments found in Honduras which revealed the earliest known alcoholic chocolate drink used by early civilizations to toast special occasions. The discovery of this beverage pushed back the earliest use of cocoa for human consumption more than 500 years to 1200 BC. As per the analysis, Dogfish Heads Theobroma (translated into ‘food of the gods’) is brewed with Aztec cocoa powder and cocoa nibs (from our friends at Askinosie Chocolate), honey, chilies, and annatto (fragrant tree seeds). “

I truly wanted to bake using Theobroma. I had plans for breads, cookies, cakes. However much I wanted to turn my oven on and get creative it wasn’t going to happen as my need to stay cool won out. Instead, I pulled out my ice cream maker and found a recipe; however it called for Guinness, which is dark and heavy. But, I liked the recipe’s simplicity as I preferred to taste the ice cream in a pure state and then decide on toppings.

To bring out the flavors in Theobroma Ice Cream I tried 3 different presentations: (1) I rolled the ice cream into balls coated with walnuts and froze. When preparing to serve I topped with orange blossom honey. (2) I made“syrup” with ground cherries* (3) I infused a bittersweet chocolate with chili, added butter to the mixture, which allowed it to harden like “Magic Shell”.

The ice cream came out smooth and creamy. The toppings were all complimentary and each of my designated tasters enjoyed all three. The tasters flat out refused to commit to a favorite. I liked the ice cream served with all three toppings; however it was the ground cherries that I found to be most pleasing, balancing out the beer’s bold flavor.

*Ground Cherries. If you read the previous post “ slat avocado ve pri hada” which was about an avocado citrus salad you would have noted that, upon finding ground cherries at my local farmer’s market I intended on adding them to the avocado citrus salad, but I had forgotten.

Ground cherries come from the Physalis genus. The ones I was able to come by are called Physalis pubescens and are native to both north and South America. The ground cherries look like miniature yellow tomatoes and are enclosed by papery husks, which often lead them to be called husk tomatoes. They might remind you of “Physalis philadelphica” otherwise known as tomatillos, which are a close relative. The ground cherry’s flavor reminds me of pineapple without the hint of pepper that I find in pineapples. The ground cherry also had a nutty, buttery flavor. While it was not tart, it was not sweet either.

Having missed the opportunity to add them to my salad, I thought they would make a nice accompaniment to the Theobroma ice cream. I made it into unstrained syrup which I poured over the ice cream. While very unassuming in presentation, this syrup made the best topping for the ice cream. As it turns out, I’m glad that I forgot to use these little gems in the salad.

Theobroma Ice Cream

(The recipe was created by Cory Barrett, using Guinness instead of Theobroma, and found on the Food and Wine Website)
1. 2 cups Theobroma
2. 2 cups heavy cream
3. 1 3/4 cups whole milk
4. 15 large egg yolks
5. 1 cup granulated sugar
1. In a large saucepan, combine the Guinness with the cream and milk and bring to a simmer over moderately high heat. In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar. Gradually add the hot Guinness cream to the yolks, whisking constantly until well blended.
2. Pour the mixture into the saucepan and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly until it coats the back of a spoon, about 6 minutes; do not let it boil. Pour the custard into a medium bowl set in a large bowl filled with ice water. Let stand until the custard is cold, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.
3. Pour the custard into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions (this may have to be done in 2 batches). Pack the ice cream into an airtight container and freeze until firm, about 4 hours.

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21 comments

  • August 6, 2011 at 7:22 am //

    Yum! That looks tasty! I’ve never heard of that beer before!

    • August 6, 2011 at 5:28 pm //

      Hi Diana, and thank you for coming by to say “hello”! I think that’s the fun of having a micro brew, huh? Before this, I don’t think I’ve had beer ice cream before = )

  • August 7, 2011 at 7:49 am //

    delicious looking beautiful dessert looks wonderful

    • August 9, 2011 at 1:03 pm //

      Thank you for coming by to say hello and for commenting!

  • August 7, 2011 at 4:39 pm //

    Gorgeous and delicious……. Curoius mixture of ingredients, but for sure to

    taste and enjoy.

    Ciao from Italy.

    Aria

    • August 9, 2011 at 1:02 pm //

      Hi Aria, (lovely name), thank you for coming by to say hello!

  • August 8, 2011 at 7:35 am //

    Beer and ice-cream! What a treat :)

    • August 9, 2011 at 1:02 pm //

      Thank you Tigerfish, and thank you for commenting.

  • August 9, 2011 at 2:34 am //

    What a fantastic recipe – I’ll be sure to try this!

    • August 9, 2011 at 1:02 pm //

      Hello Lynda, thank you for coming by and saying hello = )

  • August 10, 2011 at 11:19 pm //

    This sounds amazing! I have some leftover Guinness & heavy cream from last week, so I might just have to make this for a new dessert! Thanks for sharing!

    • August 11, 2011 at 7:26 am //

      Hi Megan, thank you. Using Guinness sounds like a terrific idea, let me know how it turns out = )

  • August 11, 2011 at 11:31 am //

    Wow! This looks amazing and interesting ingredients. Photos are gorgeous!

    Thanks for your kind comment on my blog.

    • August 11, 2011 at 11:52 am //

      Thank you Nipponin, and for commenting. Hope to see you back here again, beer does make for great flavors.

  • August 11, 2011 at 12:26 pm //

    The heat has been brutal here in Texas too! Good to know I can chill out with my two favorite things…beer and ice cream all in one sweet treat. Can’t beat that. Thanks for the info on the ground cherries. Came across some a week or two ago and picked them up to photograph.

  • August 15, 2011 at 6:48 am //

    I have those ground cherries growing in my garden and now I know they can be incorporated into lovely ice creams like this one!

  • August 19, 2011 at 12:31 am //

    If I understand things correctly, the first use of cocoa was to make some alcoholic beverage from it? Typically human… alcohol can and has to be distilled from everything ;)
    This Theobroma beer sounds great. Although belgian breweries here in Europe are almost the only ones who like to experiment with different flavorings, I never heard of a beer containing cocoa nibs. But it should pair pretty well with the bitter tones of beer. Nice recipe!

    • August 19, 2011 at 7:01 am //

      I might have to check those resources, but I think so? This week was the first time I tried a fruity beer by Timmermans? It was so interesting, I quite liked the flavors. Thank you for reading Robert, I look forward to trying new micro beers, any suggestions?

  • August 19, 2011 at 11:28 pm //

    I don’t know any US micro breweries, because I live in Germany.
    For belgian fruit beers the best would be to find a nice Belgian pub or brasserie in your neighborhood, they usually offer a pretty broad selection of fruit and other special beers. I like Corsendonk Applewhite, it’s a nice and refreshing apple and wheat beer. I would also recommend the product line of Floris, they have pretty amazing fruit beers – both in taste and color. They aren’t sweet at all and thanks to that really refreshing.

  • August 29, 2011 at 1:18 am //

    your ice cream looks great! i love making ice cream as well and am always looking for inspiration. your choice of presenting the ice cream in a “shell” is very clever!
    my brother is starting to study to become a beer brewer in munich, maybe one day he will be able to brew me the perfect beer to incorporate into desserts!

  • May 17, 2012 at 12:36 am //

    Really Appreciate this blog post, can you make it so I receive an alert email when there is a fresh update?