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Frozen Custard with Chocolate, Mexican Cinnamon, and Chile


Helado de chocolate mexicano
From Yucatan: Recipes from a Culinary Expedition, by Chef  David Sterling

David says, “When I eat this memorable and rich ice cream, I am always reminded of what the Mayas must have experienced when they were spiritually transported by chocolate. Since there are no recipes for chocolate desserts in regional cookbooks, I based my formula for this ice cream on what we know of the Maya and, later, Aztec recipes for the chocolate beverage, which at times included chile and vanilla and, after European contact, canela, or Mexican cinnamon. I add all three for a surprising punch. Try making your own chocolate paste, since it will create a rustic, authentic texture and an absolutely unsurpassed flavor in the finished product.”

Prepare ahead note: The custard base for Helado de chocolate mexicano should be prepared a day in advance in order to chill thoroughly before freezing. After processing, the ice cream keeps well frozen for 1 week.


Frozen Custard with Chocolate, Mexican Cinnamon, and Chile



Custard Base

  • 2 cups (500 ml) Mexican crema, crème fraîche, or whipping cream
  • 2 cups (500 ml) milk
  • 1 cup (250 g) sugar
  • 1/4 cup Mexican Honey
  • 1 tablespoon (1.25 ml) Rain’s Choice Mexican Vanilla Extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon (0.75 g) sea salt
  • 3/8 teaspoon (1.125g) ground allspice
  • 1/8 tsp. (0.375 g) ground canela (Mexican cinnamon)
  • 1/8 tsp. (0.375 g) cayenne powder, or to taste
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 8 ounces (225 g) bittersweet chocolate, chopped


Prepare Custard Base

  1. In a heavy saucepan, combine all of the ingredients except the egg yolks and chocolate. Simmer over moderate heat, stirring constantly, 3–4 minutes, or until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is hot. Do not allow to boil.
  2. Using a hand-held electric mixer or a whisk, beat the egg yolks in a heatproof bowl until light and fluffy. Still beating, very gradually add about 1 cup (250 ml) of the warm milk mixture to the eggs and beat thoroughly; repeat 2–3 times to gently heat the eggs. With the beater running in the saucepan, very slowly stream the egg mixture back into the hot milk. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon 3–4 minutes, or until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of the spoon; a candy thermometer should read 180 degrees F (82 degrees C). Do not allow to boil or the eggs may scramble.
  3. Finish ice cream and freeze
  4. Remove the saucepan from the heat source and immediately add the chocolate. Stir briefly to melt then beat with the electric mixer until the chocolate is thoroughly incorporated into the custard mixture, about 1 minute. Allow the mixture to cool, then cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or, preferably, overnight. The resulting base will be thick and mousse-like after refrigeration. Process the custard in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions. Place the finished ice cream in a covered container and freeze to set 2–3 hours before serving.
  5. Prepare ahead note: The custard base for Helado de Chocolate Mexicano should be prepared a day in advance in order to chill thoroughly before freezing. After processing, the ice cream keeps well frozen for 1 week.


David Sterling

Yucatan: Recipes from a Culinary Expedition


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Patricia Rain

is an author, educator, culinary historian, and owner of The Vanilla Company (www.vanillaqueen.com), a socially conscious, product-driven information and education site dedicated to the promotion of pure, natural vanilla, and the support of vanilla farmers worldwide. She also does culinary presentations for food professionals, cooking schools, trade shows, food fairs, and private groups, and is a regular radio and TV guest.

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