Belated Happy Valentine's Day!
I thank all of you who posted comments on my blog to enter the drawing for a chance to win two Askinosie Chocolate bars. I also owe a big thanks to Shawn Askinosie of Askinosie Chocolate for providing the bars for the giveaway (plus three more for me to replace the two I am giving away; now I can try some of the other flavors that intrigued me and tell you about them).
One lucky winner
On Saturday I drew the name of the lucky winner of the giveaway. Brandae Filla of Lewisburg, Ohio. She won two delicious fair-trade, single origin, handmade, artisan chocolate bars from Askinosie Chocolate, made in the chocolate Mecca of the Midwest: Springfield, MIssouri. She’ll receive one super dark bar and one (goat) milk chocolate bar next week.
Valentine’s Day treat
I wanted to celebrate Valentine's Day with something chocolate that was also low-carb. I decided to take one of the chocolate Ice Dream recipes from my Ice Dream Cookbook and make a few modifications to make it completely sugar-free (and honey-free). I wanted to see how well a new alternative sweetener would work and make the recipes suitable for people who are following low-carb diets, candida diets, and other diets that restrict even unrefined sweeteners, such as honey.
I replaced the honey in my original recipe with Swerve brand erythritol, a non-caloric sugar alternative, rather than honey. Click here to learn more about this sweetener. I supplemented the sweetness of that with clear stevia extract liquid (less bitter and easier to measure than pure stevia extract powder). I replace 4 ounces of bittersweet dark chocolate with 3 ounces of unsweetened baker’s chocolate. I added 1 teaspoon of coffee flavoring extract and 1 1/4 teaspoons of Sensuous Spice Blend (formerly sold as Tantric Spice Mix) from Chakra 4 Herb and Tea House in Phoenix, AZ (in the Town & Country Plaza near Trader Joe's). The blend contains cinnamon, damiana root, shatavari, maca root, cardamom, ginger, korean ginseng, cumin, and coriander. You could leave out the spice blend or substitute cinnamon. If you omit the coffee flavoring it will still taste great.
I made the base for the dessert on Saturday afternoon, poured it into a couple of wide mouth jars and stashed it in the refrigerator. I took out a serving and enjoyed it as pudding last night. YUM! Once chilled this Ice Dream Base (or batter) is actually thick enough to serve as pudding (if you don’t have an ice cream maker or you don’t want to wait) but fluffs up to a higher volume when churned in an ice cream maker, which I did on Sunday morning when I was preparing brunch and extra food for the first few days of the week. The frozen version made a delicious dessert sprinkled with Askinosie Cocoa Nibs. Now I have several more single serving portions stashed in the freezer for future treats. Btw: I didn't detect any unpleasant aftertaste or gritty texture from the erythritol. Xylitol sometimes does that, so that's why I didn't use it this time.
Too cold for ice cream? Try pudding!
If you can’t imagine eating frozen dessert right now because you’re surrounded by snow, you can still make this recipe. Once it chills to a thick puddingy texture, you can serve it as is and you’ll still enjoy the delicious creamy taste and texture. Although I don’t like to eat a lot of cold foods during the winter, it's not that cold here in Arizona, right now. It’s warm enough right now (high of 70 degrees F in the afternoon) for me to go out in a short sleeve shirt and pants with a light sweater and the temps are in the low 40s at night. So I'm indulging in a few servings of my homemade frozen dessert this week.
To every season churn, churn, churn
I own a Cuisinart 1-1/2-Quart Automatic Ice Cream Maker with sealed in coolant. It’s a great appliance: lightweight, easy to operate, and durable. But my freezer is usually too full of meat, bone broth, lemon juice, leftovers, and other foods that I can’t find room to pre-freeze an ice cream maker canister. So, I usually use my Cuisinart ICE-50BC Supreme Ice Cream Maker, a fully automatic 1-1/2-quart frozen yogurt, sorbet, and ice cream maker with built in refrigerant. All I have to do to use it is plug it in and turn it on. No ice to add and no canister to pre-freeze. I do need to leave it in the same place for at least 24 hours prior to using it, otherwise it won’t freeze the ice cream mixture. Cuisinart also makes an ice cream maker that allows you to churn two flavors at the same time. Click here to see the Cuisinart ICE-40 Flavor Duo Frozen Yogurt-Ice Cream & Sorbet Maker.
Low Carb Dark Chocolate Ice Dream
Hands-on: 30 minutes/Churning: 20 to 35 minutes/Yield: 4 1/2 to 5 cups; 8 servings
Unsweetened baker’s chocolate adds a rich flavor and silky smooth texture that you don’t get with unsweetened cocoa powder. To counter the higher fat content of the chocolate, I use lite (reduced fat) coconut milk. Actually I just made a 50:50 dilution of full fat (premium) coconut milk and water. The result is a rich chocolate flavor that’s so smooth your guests might not even suspect that you used coconut milk for the base.
You could dress this up with fresh berries (in season), Cherry Sauce, Blueberry Sauce, or homemade Caramel Sauce (see the Ice Dream Cookbook for recipes). For a more chocolatey flavor and crunch, garnish with roasted cocoa nibs (aka cacao nibs) or mix them in near the end of churning.
Notes: To make your own lite coconut milk for less money, simply mix 1 1/2 cups of premium, full fat coconut milk with 1 1/2 cups filtered water for the recipe below. Refrigerate any unused coconut milk and use it up within 5 days or freeze in ice cube trays. For a thicker pudding, if you don't plan to churn this mixture in an ice cream maker, you might want to increase the gelatin to 1 tablespoon.
- 1/3 cup cool or cold filtered water
- 2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin or 3/4 teaspoon agar agar powder if you’re vegetarian (do not use agar agar flakes; the amount and procedure for them doesn't work here)
- 1/4 cup erythritol (click here or click here to buy), additional 1 to 2 tablespoons if desired (I used Swerve brand for this recipe)
- 1/2 teaspoon clear stevia extract liquid
- 1/8 teaspoon finely ground, unrefined sea salt (I use Celtic Sea Salt or Redmond Real Salt)
- 1 1/4 teaspoons Sensuous Spice Mix or ground cinnamon
- 3 cups unsweetened, preservative-free lite (reduced fat) coconut milk, divided, or 1 1/2 cups full fat unsweetened coconut milk + 1 1/2 cups water
- 3 ounces unsweetened baker's chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or alcohol-free vanilla flavoring
- 1 teaspoon coffee flavoring, optional
- 2 tablespoons light or dark rum, optional
- Add 1/3 cup water to a small saucepan. Slowly sprinkle with gelatin or agar agar powder. Let stand for 2 minutes until it softens and dry spots disappear. Warm over medium-low heat, without stirring, until gelatin or agar agar dissolves. Scrape the mixture into a blender, Vita-Mix, or food processor. Cover and blend until smooth. Add the honey, stevia, and sea salt. Blend.
- Bring 1 cup of coconut milk to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat. Add chocolate and stir until smooth. Add this to the gelatin mixture. Blend until smooth. Add the spice mix or cinnamon, remaining 2 cups coconut milk, vanilla, snf optional coffee flavoring. Blend. For a sweeter taste, add an additional 1/8 teaspoon stevia and/or 1 tablespoon erythritol. Blend, taste, and repeat if needed.
- Pour into one or more wide mouth jars. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, until thick like pudding, before churning.
- Scrape the chilled custard into the canister of your ice cream maker. Add the optional rum. Churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Serve immediately or spoon into several 8- to 16-ounce freezer-safe containers. Cover and freeze for 3 or more hours for a firmer texture.
- Soften solidly frozen dessert by placing it in the refrigerator for 30 to 45 minutes or on the counter for 15 to 30 minutes before serving.
1 serving: sorry, no nutrition breakdown for this; I need to find a Mac-friendly nutrition analysis software program to replace the one I used to have that stopped working after I upgraded my computer operating system several years ago
* Dark Chocolate Honey Ice Dream: Replace erythritol with 1/4 cup honey +/- an additional 2 to 3 tablespoons if needed.
* Dark Chocolate Cocoa Nib Crunch Ice Dream: Add 1/2 cup cocoa nibs (aka cacao nibs) when Ice Dream reaches the soft-serve stage. Run the machine for 1 or 2 more minutes. Try Askinosie Cocoa Nibs.
* Dark Chocolate Orange Ice Dream: Replace rum with orange liqueur above; add the finely grated zest of 1 orange if desired.
Source: Recipe modified from The Ice Dream Cookbook: Dairy-Free Ice Cream Alternatives with Gluten Free Cookies, Compotes & Sauces by Rachel Albert Matesz. To order, click here.
For more sample recipes, check the category pages on the left under Dessert, Fruit Dessert, and Frozen Dessert. Here are some of my favorite ice cream makers. Buy an extra canister if you get the 1 1/2 quart automatic ice cream maker and you want to be able to make two batches on the same day.