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TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Choctál’s Singe Origin Ice Cream

When we first reviewed Choctál ice cream in 2007, it was a unique experience. It still is.

The California company pioneered single origin ice cream in the two most popular flavors, chocolate and vanilla. The line—four single origin chocolate ice creams and four single origin vanillas—demonstrate how the flavor varies, based on the origin of the cacao and vanilla beans.

This means you can have one heck of an ice cream tasting for National Ice Cream Month (July).

It’s a memorable experience, especially for people who enjoy discerning the different flavor profiles between one origin and another in chocolate bars, olive oils, sea salts, wine grapes and so forth. The flavors of these agricultural products and others are greatly affected by their growing environment (terroir).

A BRIEF HISTORY OF CHOCOLATE

In the beginning—some 4,000 years ago—there was ice cream. Here’s the history of ice cream.

Fast-forward ahead a few thousand years—beyond the labor-intensive ice cream made by servants of the wealthy in pre-electricity Renaissance days, beyond the invention of the ice cream churn in 1851, beyond the soda fountains at neighborhood drug scores, which engendered the ice cream soda along with scooped ice cream to eat at the fountain or to take home.

Along with home refrigerators, supermarket brands arrived in the 1950s. Many used cheaper ingredients and whipped more air into then ice cream (known as overrun) to keep gallon prices low. This engendered a USDA classification system. “Economy,” “regular” and “premium” ice creams were defined by butterfat content and overrun.

Häagen-Daz arrived in the 1970s with even higher butterfat and lower overrun than premium ice cream, inaugurating the superpremium category. With butterfat greater than 14% (some brands have 18% and more), overrun as low as 20% and complex flavors in addition to the basic ones), there’s no rung higher to go on the classification scale—by government standards, at least.

Some companies—including Choctál—have labeled their ice cream “ultrapremium,” but this is marketing rather than an official government standard.

And now, there’s single origin ice cream.

WHAT IS “SINGLE-ORIGIN?”

The term is not currently regulated in the U.S., but single origin can refer either to a single region or at the micro level, to a single farm or estate within that region.

It is based on the agricultural concept of terroir (tur-WAH), a French term that is the basis for its the A.O.C. system (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée, or controlled designation of origin), created in the 1950s.

Choctal Single Origin Chocolate Ice Cream

Choctal Single Origin Ice Cream

Choctal Single Origin Vanilla Ice Cream

[1] A pint of Kalimantan chocolate, with beans from Borneo. [2] The four origins of chocolate and vanilla may look the same, but the tastes are noticeably different. [3] A pint of vanilla made with beans from Madagascar, the classic raised to the heights by Choctál (photos courtesy Choctál).

These environmental characteristics gives agricultural products their character. A.O.C. and related terms like Italy’s P.D.O. (Denominazione di Origine Protetta, or Protected Designation of Origin.) recognize that different plots of land produce different flavors from the same rootstock. In the 1990s, the European Union created a new system to provide a uniform labeling protocol: Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) and Protected Geographical Indication (PGI).What IS “TERROIR?”Terroir, pronounced tur-WAH is a French agricultural term that is the basis of the French A.O.C. (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) system. It refers to the unique components of the place (environment) where an agricultural product is grown.

Each specific habitat (plot of land) has unique set of environmental factors that affect a crop’s qualities, down to nuances of aroma, flavor and texture. They include the climate and microclimate, weather (the season’s growing conditions), elevation height and slant of the land), proximity to a body of water, slant of the land, soil type and amount of direct sunlight.

This means that the same rootstock that is grown in different locations produces different flavors.

Not only will the product taste and smell somewhat different (Sauvignon Blanc can have grass or grapefruit aroma and flavor notes—or neither—depending on their terroir), but intermediate products also create a difference.

For example, grass with more clover, wild herbs, and so forth produces a delicate difference in an animal’s milk, and thus in artisan cheese.

Note that processing will also affect the flavor. Neighboring wine makers, for example, can use different techniques to create wines that highlight their personal flavor preferences.

 

Choctal Single Origin Ice Cream

Choctal Single Origin Ice Cream Cones

Choctàl pints and cones (photos courtesy Choctàl).

THE CHOCTÀL SINGLE ORIGIN ICE CREAMS

Choctàl Single Origin Chocolate Ice Cream

  • Costa Rican cacao is distinguished by sweet notes of coffee and a hint of butterscotch.
  • Ghana cacao, from the coast of West Africa, has a fudge, milk chocolate character.
  • Kalimantan cacao, from the island of Borneo in the South China Sea, produces intense cacao beans with a slight hint of caramel.
  • Dominican cacao, from the Dominican Republic on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, has a natural dark chocolate flavor profile with notes of clove and nutmeg.

Choctàl Single Origin Vanilla Ice Cream

  • Indonesian vanilla is full-bodied, blending the creamy sweetness of classic bourbon (Madagascan) vanilla with a woody floral note.
  • Madagascar vanilla, from the island off the eastern coast of Africa, has been the world standard in vanilla for centuries, smooth and buttery. In the hands of Choctal, it may be the best vanilla ice cream you’ll ever taste.
  • Mexican vanilla has a natural touch of cinnamon. Choctàl adds more cinnamon. It obscures the single origin flavor, but makes a delicious cinnamon-vanilla ice cream.
  • Papua New Guinea vanilla has fruity, floral notes of cherry that linger on the palate during a long, lush finish.

The line is certified kosher by OU.

While the main experience is to taste and compared the different origins to each other, they are also splendid in everything from à la mode to floats.

WHERE TO FIND CHOCTÁL ICE CREAMHere’s a store locator to find the nearest pint of Choctàl.You can also order pints and gift cards on the Choctàl website.

 

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TIP OF THE DAY: Meet The Wineshakes~Wine Milkshakes

July 17th is National Ice Cream Day.

Of course, it’s easy to head to the freezer, store or scoop shop to celebrate. But we thought you might like something special.

Like a wineshake, a wine milkshake. Wine + ice cream = wineshake.

Does it sound unusual? Well: The first printed reference to a milkshake dates to 1885, and referred to an alcoholic drink, a “sturdy, healthful eggnog type of drink, with eggs, whiskey, etc., served as a tonic as well as a treat.”

By 1900, the whiskey and eggs were gone, and the term “milkshake” referred to “wholesome drinks made with chocolate, strawberry, or vanilla syrups.”

Yet, the milkshake still contained no ice cream until 1922. Here’s more history of the milkshake.
 
THE DAWN OF THE WINESHAKE

The folks at California-based Winc winery have whipped up delicious ice cream and wine milkshake recipes, combining their wines with Van Leeuwen ice cream. But you can use what you have on hand or other substitutes.

Winc has an online store where you can purchase the wines and send gift cards. We want them just to display the names and label designs: a work of art in wine bottles, so to speak. The wines are well-priced, so this is art we can afford!

RECIPE #1: COOKIES & CREAM WINESHAKE

Ingredients Per Shake

  • 1/2 cup cookies and cream ice cream
  • 2 ounces Alchymist Noir Red Blend (Syrah, Barbera and Valdiguié) or other “big red”
  • Giant drizzle chocolate syrup
  • Garnish: more chocolate syrup for drizzling
  • Garnish: Oreo cookies, mix of crushed and whole
  • Optional garnish: whipped cream
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BLEND the ice cream, wine, and big drizzle of chocolate syrup until you reach the desired consistency of your shake. We mixed ours in the blender, but you can use an immersion blender, cocktail shaker or whatever you have at hand.

    2. POUR the shake into a glass. Top with more chocolate syrup and add the Oreos. Drizzle the top with more chocolate syrup and top with whipped cream as desired.

       

    Cookies & Cream Wine Shake

    Chocolate Wine Shake

    Strawberry Rose Wine Shake

    Vanilla Sparkling Wine Shake

    Shake it shake it baby: Wineshakes from Winc winery (photos courtesy Winc).

     

    RECIPE #2: DARK CHOCOLATE PINOT NOIR WINESHAKE

    Ingredients Per Shake

  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate ice cream
  • 2 ounces Porter & Plot Pinot Noir or other Pinot
  • Chocolate syrup, for drizzling
  • Garnish: chocolate chips, fresh cherries with stems
  •  
    Preparation

    2. BLEND the ice cream and wine until you reach your desired consistency.

    2. POUR into a glass, drizzle with chocolate syrup and top with chocolate chips, then the cherries.

     

    Alchymist Pinot Noir

    Au-Dela Dolcetto

    [1] Winc’s Alchymist Noir Red Blend. [2] Au-Delà Sparkling Dolcetto*, a dry sparkling red wine. Au-delà means “beyond” in French (photos courtesy Winc).

     

    RECIPE #3: STRAWBERRY ROSE SHAKÉ

    Ingredients Per Shake

  • 1/2 cup strawberry ice cream
  • 2 ounces Ruza White Zinfandel or other White Zin
  • Fresh strawberries
  • Garnish: more strawberries, for garnish
  • Optional: whipped cream
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BLEND the ice cream, wine, and a handful of strawberries to taste, until you reach the desired berry flavor and shake consistency.

    2. POUR into a glass. Top with whipped cream and garnish with more strawberries.
     
    RECIPE #4: VANILLA SPARKLING SHAKE

    Ingredients Per Shake

  • 1/2 cup vanilla ice cream
  • 2 ounces Au-Delà Sparkling Dolcetto* or other sparkling red wine
  • Fresh mixed berries
  • Garnish: whipped cream, more berries
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BLEND the ice cream, wine, a big handful berries to taste, until you reach desired berry flavor and shake consistency.

    2. POUR into glass. Top with whipped cream, and garnish with more mixed berries.

     
    FLOAT, MALTED MILK, MILKSHAKE: THE DIFFERENCE

  • A float is a carbonated soft drink—cola, root beer, etc.—with a scoop of ice cream “floating” in it.
  • A milkshake blends together ice cream, milk and flavoring.
  • A malted milk, malt for short, is a milkshake with added malted milk powder†.
  •  
    MORE FOOD HOLIDAYS

    National Vanilla Milkshake Day is June 20th; National Chocolate Milkshake Day is September 12th.

    See all the food holidays.
     
    ALSO SEE FROSÉ: ROSÉ & SORBET
     
    __________________

    *Dolcetto is a red wine grape from the Piedmont region of northwestern Italy. It is now planted in Australia and the U.S. as well. Other sparkling red wines include Brachetto d’Acqui, Lambrusco and Sparkling Shiraz, among others.

    †Malted milk is a powdered gruel made from a mixture of malted barley, wheat flour, and evaporated whole milk. It was originally developed by a pharmacist, James Horlick, as a nutritional supplement for infants. Soon enough, parents discovered how tasty it was…and the rest is history.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Ice Pops In A Snap

    July is National Ice Cream Month. Since there’s no Ice Pop Month or Ice Pop Day (and none for ice cream cones, either), we’re folding them in.

    We thank PeanutButterLovers.com, the consumer website of the Southern Peanut Growers for this recipe. It makes a dozen creamy pops, with hardly any effort.
     
    CREAMY PEANUT BUTTER-BANANA POPS

    Ingredients For 12 Pops

  • 4 large very ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 12 ounces frozen whipped dessert topping
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PLACE all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Pour into ice pop molds or substitutes. Freeze until firm. How easy is that?

    2. TO REMOVE: Run the mold under warm water as needed to release the pops.
     
    Find more peanut butter recipes—from appetizers and soups through mains and desserts—at PeanutButterLovers.com.
     
    NO ICE POP MOLDS? TRY THESE SUBSTITUTES:

    If you don’t want to invest in ice pop molds, how about Zip-A-Pop disposable plastic sleeves (third photo at right). We love them!

    Otherwise, take a look around. Most likely, you have one or more of these:

  • Paper or plastic cups. Small (or large, if you want to go for massive pops) disposable paper or plastic cups are an easy and inexpensive stand-in for popsicle molds
  • Ice cube trays (example)
  • Loaf pans (example)
  • Silicone cupcake molds
  • Small cupcake/muffin tins (example)
  • Three- or 6-ounce yogurt containers (a great recycling opportunity)
  •  
    If you don’t have ice pop sticks, here’s another great recycling opportunity:

  • Plastic spoons (we’ve used plastic knives when testing recipes)
  • Stainless steel teaspoons or espresso spoons
  •  
    If you’re not a peanut butter or banana lover, here’s a recipe from Pom Wonderful that trades the PB for pomegranate juice.
     
    Prep time is 20 minutes, plus 4 hours freezing.

       

    Peanut Butter &  Banana Ice Pops

    Ripe Bananas

    Zip Pops

    [1] PB-Banana pops: fruit and protein in an ice pop. What could be better (photo PeanutButterLovers.com). [2] Overripe bananas are an invitation to make banana pops (photo © Luso Images). [3] Zip Pop bags (photo courtesy ZipPops.com.au).

     

    Doubly nutritious: bananas infused with
    pomegranate juice. Photo and recipe
    courtesy Pom Wonderful.

     

    RECIPE: POMEGRANATE-BANANA ICE POPS

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 cup pomegranate juice
  • 1 cup pomegranate arils (from 1 large pomegranate, or buy a bag of arils and skip Step 1.)
  • 3 very ripe bananas
  • 1 cup simple syrup (buy it or make this recipe)
  • 4 ice pop molds or substitute
  • 4 ice pop sticks or plastic spoons
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SCORE 1 fresh pomegranate and place in a bowl of water. Break open the pomegranate under water to free the arils (the seed sacs). The arils will sink to the bottom of the bowl and the membrane will float to the top. Strain and place the arils in a clean bowl. Refrigerate or freeze any extra arils for another use.

    2. PREPARE the simple syrup (recipe).

    3. PLACE all ingredients except the arils in a food processor; process until smooth. Then stir in the arils and divide the mixture evenly among the molds/cups.

     
    4. FREEZE slightly; then insert an ice pop stick or plastic spoon into the center of each cup to be used as a stick. Freeze until solid.

      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Lactaid Ice Cream

    July is National Ice Cream Month, a time for celebration among ice cream lovers. But not for every one of us.

    According to research studies, 30 to 50 million Americans are lactose intolerant. Some have been that way since childhood; some lose the ability to digest lactose as adults.

    Says HealthDay.com, “The condition is so common—and so natural—that some doctors don’t even like to call lactose intolerance a disorder.

    But that’s no comfort to anyone who can no longer have cheese, ice cream, milk, yogurt and even butter, including butter-rich foods such as buttercream frosting and caramels.

    Lactose intplerance cuts across ancestral lines, creating gastrointestinal problems in:

  • 70% of African Americans
  • 90% of Asian Americans
  • 53% of Mexican Americans
  • 74% of Native Americans
  • 20% of Caucasians, however…
  •  
    …people of Arab, Greek, Hispanic, Italian and Jewish ancestry have a much higher incidence than other groups.
     
    LACTOSE-FREE ICE CREAM FROM LACTAID

    Ice cream lovers: Eat all of the frozen delight you want, without incurring the distressing symptoms of lactose intolerance.

    (Second thought, eating too much could give you an ice cream headache or make your inner and outer mouth feel like Alaska in the winter.)

    Lactaid Ice Cream, made by Hood, is a delicious line. And what a choice:

    The Basics

  • Chocolate
  • Vanilla
  •  
    The Mix-Ins

  • Butter Pecan
  • Cookies & Cream
  • Mint Chocolate Chip
  •  
    The New & Glorious

  • Berry Chocolate Crumble
  • Salted Caramel Chip
  •    

    Ice Cream Lactose Intolerant

    Lactaid Ice Cream

    [1] Lactaid has delicious specialty flavors, like Berry Crumble and Salted Caramel Chip (photo courtesy NotQuiteSusie.com). [2] Chocolate and vanilla Lactaid (photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE).

     

    The magic is simply that the brand adds lactase, a natural enzyme that is no longer produced by the stomach of lactose-intolerant people. It’s the same ingredient as in Lactose supplement pills. It helps break down the lactose so that dairy products are easily digested.

    Lactase has no impact on taste or texture. Unless they saw the carton, no one would know the products are lactose-free.
     
    Now…

    Have an ice cream cone, a shake or a sundae!

    Make ice cream sandwiches and ice cream cake!

    Eat ice cream straight from the carton!

    But there’s more!

     

    Lactose Free Sour Cream

    Lactose Free Cream Cheese

    [1] (photo courtesy FoodForMyFamily.com). [2] Photo courtesy MyLilikoiKitchen.com).

     

    MORE LACTOSE-FREE DAIRY FOODS

    From Lactaid

    Lactaid also makes lactose-free milk (0%, 1%, 2%, whole and chocolate), low fat cottage cheese, and holiday nog.
     
    From Green Valley Organics

    Green Valley Organics adds still more lactose-free dairy options:

  • Cream cheese
  • Kefir
  • Lowfat and whole-milk yogurt
  • Sour cream
  •  
    Use the store locator on the home page to find a retailer near you.

    Might we add: No one would know all these products are lactose free.
     
    BOTH LACTAID & GREEN VALLEY PRODUCTS ARE DEE-LICIOUS.
     
    LIKE CHEESE?

    If you’re just mildly lactose intolerant, you may find that buffalo’s, goats’, and sheep’ milk cheeses are easier to digest than cow’s milk.

    If you’re substantially lactose intolerant, even cheeses with only 2% lactose can upset your stomach. The only 100% lactose-free cheese is Cheddar.

    Fortunately, it’s the most popular cheese in the U.S.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Ice Cream Cake Sundae

    We love this idea from Little Park restaurant in the TriBeCa neighborhood of New York City.

    The chef created Cinnamon Toast Ice Cream: cinnamon ice cream topped with cinnamon toast croutons. Building on that idea, we say:

    Celebrate July, National Ice Cream Month, with an Ice Cream Cake Sundae.
     
    Make the easiest ice cream cake ever, with ice cream and loaf cake layers in sundae dishes, and toasted cake croutons for the topping.

    We served it over July 4th weekend, and guests are clamoring for more. Perhaps it’s time for us to start a tradition of ice cream socials.

  • If you don’t have sundae dishes or other glass bowls, consider wine goblets or other glassware.
  • In addition to croutons made from toasted loaf cake, we cut thin layers from the untoasted loaf to layer in the sundae dishes.
  • We set out the toppings on a lazy susan. We scooped the ice cream and layered the cake, and everyone “dressed their own.”
  • Our recipe follows. You can do it more simply with just one flavor of ice cream and cake, and no toppings.
  •  
    RECIPE: ICE CREAM CAKE SUNDAE

    Ingredients

  • Ice cream flavor(s) of choice
  • Loaf cake(s) of choice
  •  
    Optional Toppings

  • Chocolate sauce (we used Somebody’s Mother’s*)
  • Caramel sauce (we used King’s Cupboard*)
  • Raspberry sauce (a quick purée with a bit of sugar)
  • Fresh berries
  • Whipped cream (we used both chocolate and original flavors of Reddi-Wip)
  •  
    _____________________
    *Both dessert sauce lines are NIBBLE Top Picks Of The Week. Here’s the Somebody’s Mother’s review and the Kings Cupboard review.
     

    Preparation

     

    Cinnamon Ice Cream

    Blueberry Banana Bread

    Reddi-Wip Flavors

    [1] The Ice Cream Cake Sundae (photo courtesy Little Park | NYC). [2] Buy or bake a loaf cake (photo courtesy Driscoll’s Berries). [3] Reddi-Wip flavors (photo courtesy ConAgraFoods).

     
    1. SELECT your ice cream flavors and loaf cakes. We chose the basics—chocolate, coffee and vanilla ice cream. For the loaf cakes: carrot cake, chocolate cake and pound cake loaf cakes (we couldn’t find a good banana loaf).

    2. SLICE some of the loaf cake(s) into 1/4″ to 3/4 inch slices. These are the cake layers, and the number you’ll need depends on the number of guests and how many slices fit in each serving dish. Wrap them in airtight plastic and set aside.

    3. CUT the remaining loaf(s) in as many 3/4″ to 1″ slices as you’ll need. Lightly toast the slices and let cool completely. Then cut them into the crouton size you like (we cut 3/4″ squares), and store them in an airtight container until you’re ready to serve.

    4. SERVE: Per the order of each participant, we scooped ice cream on top of pound cake layers. Don’t worry about exact size: You can push the layers into the sundae dish.

    5. TELL participants to go forth and garnish!

      

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