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
(adapted from Jeni Briton Bauer’s dark chocolate ice cream)
2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon smoked sea salt
2 cups concord grapes, stemmed
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon cornstarch