Chocolate and Smoked Sea Salt Ice Cream with Concord Grape Swirl

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For the longest time, I just assumed the West Coast didn’t “get” Concord grapes. In a way, I like all those regional distinctions and specialties, so I just accepted it and never really looked for them out here, always assuming that one day, I’ll be sitting on an appropriately rustic bench on a farm on the Finger Lakes, bunch of Concord grapes in hand, thinking “Yup, I’m so glad I came out here for these.”

Sometimes, though, the things you’re not looking for find you instead. Sometimes you find yourself scanning the produce section of a busy Whole Foods to try to figure out the least obnoxious route to the lemons…  And you catch a display of those things, all cute-like in white paper bags with handles on them, being all, “Hey girl, why you been ignoring us this whole time?”

I love it when fruit talks to me. (Not enough to talk back, out loud… That’d be weird.) This particular batch wanted me to make ice cream with it.

Of course, Concord grapes are known for juice and jellies. I had no idea the flavor would be so close–I always assumed “Concord grape” things were sweetened and otherwise…  Significantly enhanced. Not so! Eating a Concord grape is absolutely reminiscent of the old standby, peanut butter and jelly.

That’s why my very first instinct was to make something that was a play on that combination. As always, though, my second thought was, “Buuuuut…  Not quite.” And since what I love most about PB&J (like everyone else, I’m sure) is the sweet-salty combo, I thought salted dark chocolate would provide a similar experience.

And it did! I swear, if you closed your eyes when taking a first bite of this, the “PB&J” part of your brain (PB-Jippocampus, as we all know, right?) would light up like a pinball machine.

The ice cream itself is a lightened up (cocoa/intensity-wise, not calorie-wise, sorrynotsorry) version of Jeni’s “Darkest Chocolate Ice Cream in the World” recipe. It’s just a touch mellower, so as to not be overwhelming–fruit, even dark, sweet, intense fruit, can only take so much.

The swirl part is simple–just a quick syrup/jelly of sorts, strained to remove seeds and skin.

I can only look at this picture so long. Can you handle the obvious creamy, cold goodness?

Swirls get messy–it’s cool.

I know summer is over: not just Sept. 1st-over, but really over.  If you’re waiting for me to get sick of making ice cream, though, that makes two of us… So let’s take this journey as far as it’ll go, eh?

Chocolate and Smoked Sea Salt Ice Cream with Concord Grape Swirl
Yields 1
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For ice cream base
  1. 2 cups whole milk
  2. 4 teaspoons cornstarch
  3. 1 cup heavy cream
  4. 1/2 cup sugar
  5. 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  6. 3 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
For chocolate mixture
  1. 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
  2. 1/3 cup whole milk
  3. 1/2 cup sugar
  4. 1 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate
  5. 1 tablespoon smoked sea salt
For concord grape swirl
  1. 2 cups concord grapes, stemmed
  2. 1/4 cup sugar
  3. 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  4. 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  1. Mix cornstarch and 1/4 cup of the milk in a small bowl until smooth and set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan, whisk together the rest of the milk, the cream, sugar and corn syrup--bring to a boil over medium-high heat and continue cooking, watching closely so it doesn't boil over, for 4 minutes.
  3. Stir in the cornstarch mixture, return to boil and cook, stirring, until thickened, about 2 minutes.
  4. Put the softened cream cheese in a bowl and our in about 1/4 cup of the hot milk mixture, then whisk until smooth. Whisk in the remaining hot milk mixture.
  5. To make the chocolate sauce, combine the cocoa, milk and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 30 seconds, then remove from heat and stir in the chocolate and the smoked salt until melted together and smooth.
  6. Pour the chocolate mixture into the ice cream base, whisk together until smooth, then cover and chill until thoroughly cold, at least a few hours but preferably overnight.
  7. To make the concord grape swirl, mash together the grapes, sugar and lemon juice in a bowl and set aside for an hour or so. Add the cornstarch and stir until completely smooth.
  8. Bring mixture to boil over medium-high heat in a medium saucepan, then cook for 5 minutes or so, until thick and bubbly. Cool completely, then process in a food processor and strain through a fine-mesh strainer. Discard solids and reserve syrup.
  9. Churn ice cream mixture according to manufacturer's instructions. Layer the churned ice cream with drizzles of the grape syrup and swirl with a spatula or knife to create a marbled effect. Freeze until solid.
Adapted from Saveur
Adapted from Saveur
10th Kitchen
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  1. says

    Hey there, firstly thanks so much for your comment on my blog!
    Secondly what a lovely blog you have!
    Then down to business.. I dont think we have concord grapes here in Gran Canaria, Spain but they look amazing, especially their colour! Thanks for sharing this delicious recipe!!!

    Greetings from afar 😉

  2. says

    You know I’m not the ice cream kind, but I WANT this one! I can almost taste it! And, I say phooey to any kind of ice cream recipe stoppage just bc it’s fall. Make what you love!! And you have to be ready for Thanksgiving with you family, right? Doesn’t that mean you need like, 46 flavors or something?

  3. says

    This is the kind of PB&J I can get behind! And yes, I am totally with you on Concord grapes being an East Coast thing. I’ve never noticed them before (obviously I need to go to Whole Foods more) and mentally I put them in the same category as lobster rolls or something. You are a swirling maestro and this ice cream looks incredible.

  4. Jura says

    you just blew my mind. And if you come to Finger lakes for authentic concord grape experience, let me know! i can give you a private tour of the region :)

  5. Mike "the Human Cow" says

    Mmmmmm…so tasty!!! This was one of the better ice creams I’ve had in a while. Also, I’m curious about the minefield on the way to the lemons. I mean, if anyone stood between me and my lemons, I would be forced to flatten them with a rolling pin. If this becomes a problem, I may have to start carrying one with me at the market.

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