Deep Dark Chocolate Ice Cream

Nothing says "the holidays" like chocolate ice cream.

.....Right? Isn't that the saying?

My brother gave me a Williams-Sonoma gift certificate for Christmas. Since I'm with the husband's family right now, my family used Thanksgiving as a chance to exchange gifts. While most of the gifts were booze (which prompted us to name the holiday "Boozeexchangegiving"), my bro gave me the opportunity to buy something frivolous at FancyPants-Sonoma. And while they have many frivolous things, an ice cream maker was at the top of my Frivolous Shit To Buy list.

So, I got this guy. His name is Frank. He is beautiful.

Frank gave me a scare while making my first batch of ice cream. I put Frank's freezer bowl in the freezer 24 hours in advance of when I wanted to churn out some creamy goodness. In the meantime, I made the 'batter.' This batter, by the way, is quite expensive if you make it with the good stuff. And you should definitely make it with the good stuff.

Anyway, 24 hours pass and I'm all excited to bust out some ice cream while hubs and I eat pizza and watch King Kong. .....aaaand the freezer bowl wasn't frozen. Cue abject misery. It ended up taking over 36 hours for the bowl to freeze. But it was worth the wait. This recipe is magnificent.

If you've been looking for ice cream that is so chocolatey that it's more chocolate than ice cream, this is your man. It's super thick, uber-custardy, and unbelievably rich. You will be tempted to dole out a big dish like I have in my photos. But you won't need it. A little bit of this goes a long way.
Deep Dark Chocolate Ice Cream (from Cuisinart)
-2 1/4 cups whole milk
-2 1/4 cups heavy cream
-1 vanilla bean
-1 1/8 cups granulated sugar
-1 1/8 cups Dutch process cocoa
-2 large eggs
-2 large egg yolks
-2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
-12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1. In a large saucepan, combine the whole milk and heavy cream over medium-low heat. With a sharp knife, split the vanilla bean lengthwise; use the blunt edge of the knife to scrape out the "seeds" of the vanilla bean. Stir the seeds and bean pod into the milk/cream mixture. Simmer the milk/cream mixture over low heat for 30 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean pod and discard it or rinse and reserve for another use.

2. Combine the sugar, cocoa, eggs, and egg yolks in a medium bowl; using a hand mixer on medium speed, beat until thickened like mayonnaise. (**NOTE: It will NOT have a mayonnaise texture. It will be so thick that it will all stick to the beaters and barely be beat-able. Don't sweat it. Just proceed with the next step.**)

3. Measure out 1 cup of the hot milk/cream mixture. With the mixer on low speed, add the cup of hot milk/cream to the cocoa mixture in a slow, steady stream and mix until completely incorporated. Stir the chopped chocolate into the saucepan with the hot milk/cream. Stir the egg mixture into the hot milk/cream. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and begins to resemble a chocolate pudding. Transfer the chocolate mixture to a bowl and stir in vanilla. Cover with plastic wrap placed directly on the surface of the chocolate mixture, and refrigerate until completely cooled.

4. Pour the chilled custard into the freezer bowl, turn the machine on and let mix until thickened, about 25 to 30 minutes. The ice cream will have a soft, creamy texture. If a firmer consistency is desired, transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and place in freezer for about 2 hours. Remove from freezer about 15 minutes before serving.

-Makes 14 1/2-cup servings

Note: My friend Julien tried out this recipe shortly after tasting my faboo results. He used 1% milk instead of whole milk and had less-than-satisfactory results, at least initially (I believe it wouldn't freeze very well). He popped it in the freezer for a few hours and it got more solid. If at first you don't succeed, try, try again!

Roasted Italian Vegetable Couscous

This is my 200th post! That's pretty impressive for someone who doesn't actually have very much to say, don't you think?

I'm a little bummed that I don't have something more amazingly spectacular to share for my 200th post. School has had me so wiped that I didn't even remember to take photos of the Thanksgiving feast I made. Seriously. The only thing that I managed a photo of was the Pecan Cheesecake Pie--two days later. My super-awesome husband has been doing most of the cooking, and I've been doing most of the eating. Huzzah for 200 posts! Huzzah for laziness!

I imagine that if you've been around the cooking blogsphere for any amount of time, you've seen photos of the incredibly beautiful and super-weirdo-freaktastic Romanesco Broccoli. Half-broccoli, half-cauliflower, all-bizarro-vegetable-from-space. Personally, I'd seen photos many times, but had never seen them in person. The morning I went to pick up my T-Day turkey from the Farmer's Market, it was freezing cold--colder than it is today, over 1 1/2 months later. There were few vendors left at that last outdoor market, and who could blame them? Like a moron, I'd forgotten my gloves. Handling money was hard. The idea of holding a frozen turkey was harder.

As I bemoaned my idiocy, we passed several heads of Romanesco broccoli. My icy little foodie heart flip-flopped in my chest. I need it! But you don't know what it tastes like! But I NEED it! But you don't know how to cook it! BUT I NEED IT.

Husband ran back to get it for me, so that I could warm my hands in the car. Bless his big, non-icy heart.

It truly begs for photos to be taken. It has no bad angles. It is the Beyonce of vegetables.

Turns out, it tastes like a less-sulfury cauliflower. But it's more cauliflower than broccoli on the cauliflower-broccoli continuum. I roasted it. What do you do with yours?

Roasted Italian Vegetable Couscous (from me)
-1 head Romanesco broccoli, florets separated
-2 large carrots, chopped
-1 yellow pepper, chopped
-1 green pepper, chopped
-3 small-to-medium sized tomatoes (the more flavorful, the better), chopped into large pieces
-4 cloves garlic, skin left on
-1/2 teaspoon dried basil
-1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
-1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
-1/4 teaspoon dried savory
-1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
-1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
-Approximately generous 1/4 teaspoon black pepper (or more, to taste)
-Approximately 1 teaspoon salt (or less, to taste)
-2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
-1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

-1 1/2 cups uncooked plain couscous (cook according to package directions, including with amount of butter/oil given)
-1/2 teaspoon salt (or less, to taste)
-1/4 teaspoon black pepper
-1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
-1/4 teaspoon basil
-1/4 teaspoon oregano
-Optional: More of the above seasonings, as you see fit

1. Preheat oven to 450. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with tin foil.

2. In a large bowl, mix all of the vegetables, spices, and oil together (including the garlic with the skins on, excluding the garbanzo beans). Pour out onto the baking sheet and spread them out evenly. Bake for ~20 minutes, or until desired degree of tenderness is reached.

3. In the meantime, prepare your couscous per the package directions. You can add the spices into the water/oil mix before boiling, or after the couscous is done--I do it before, but it's really your call. Couscous is very plain on its own, so it's hard to over-spice, even with spiced vegetables. Once the couscous is cooked, stir in the garbanzo beans and put on low heat to keep everything warm.

4. Once the vegetables are done to your liking, remove from the oven. Pick out the cloves of garlic and set aside until they're cool enough to handle (it should be just a few minutes). Smoosh those cloves so that the nummy garlic gushes out.

5. Use your big mixing bowl to mix both the couscous, garlic, and vegetables together (or use the couscous as a base and veggies as a topping--it doesn't matter). Serve immediately.

-Serves 6.