It seems that when something really popular comes along, the real thing, once experienced, is a major letdown (um, Twilight?). It's much better - if bittersweet - to discover something years late, hopelessly out of fashion, only to learn that it's just as good as you hoped.
Maybe you met someone once, in passing, only to forge a great friendship in a different time and place; maybe you discovered a beloved author only to learn that she has a half-dozen books already published; maybe you learned that you can make macarons at home, and don't have to long for the day you can return to Paris.
Well, I don't know how I missed David Lebovitz's post on Caramelized White Chocolate from last June, but I can't believe the universe cheated me out of the last year. Cruel, cruel fate, to leave me with white chocolate languishing in my cupboard all this time. I know that there are a lot of white chocolate haters out there, but I have only one thing to say to you: shut up, eat some of this, and bow down to the power of the Maillard reaction.
I'm not a "white chocolate person," whatever that means, but I've always liked its rich creaminess and subtle flavor. Slowly cooked to a light toffee color, with a sprinkle of salt added to finish, the oven transforms it into something like dulce de leche, complex and nothing like white chocolate. After licking the spatula clean I poured it into a jar and hid it away in my pantry cupboard. Even untempered and slightly crumbly, we were diving in for a spoonful here, a pinch there, and I was hard pressed to save enough of it to make the recipe below.
I adapted the White Chocolate Ice Cream recipe from The Perfect Scoop, but I wanted to make gelato instead. I increased the milk:cream ratio and used a relatively small number of egg yolks; I really wanted the chocolate flavor to take center stage. I also drained and chopped some of the candied cherries I made the other day and mixed them into half of the gelato. It was good (it's already gone), and I'll probably try some more mix-ins, but honestly, this gelato is perfect without fanfare or accompaniments. I normally share my desserts with friends and coworkers, but this one is going straight from my freezer to my belly.
Caramelized White Chocolate Gelato
adapted from The Perfect Scoop
I recommend transferring the chilled custard to the freezer for about 25 minutes before churning; gelato benefits from fast freezing and the very small ice crystals this creates, and making sure the custard is very, very cold helps the process. Set your timer so that you don't forget about it!
9 oz caramelized white chocolate
3 C whole milk
2/3 C sugar
4 large egg yolks
1 C heavy cream
1-2 C candied cherries, well drained and chopped (optional)
Crumble/break the chocolate into chunks and place in a large bowl. Set a mesh strainer on the bowl.
Heat the milk, sugar, and salt in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. Whisk together the egg yolks and temper with some of the hot milk. Add the egg yolks to the milk mixture, whisking constantly to combine.
Stir custard over medium heat, scraping the bottom of the pot, until the custard thickens - it won't get quite as thick as your typical ice cream custard. Pour the mixture through the sieve over the chocolate. Stir until the chocolate is completely melted, then stir in the cream. Set the custard bowl in an ice bath and stir occasionally until cool.
Chill thoroughly in the refrigerator until about 25 minutes before you are ready to churn, then transfer to the freezer. After 25 minutes, freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker.
If desired, mix in spoonfuls of chopped, drained candied cherries as you are transferring the mixture out of the ice cream maker.
Note: I stirred the softly-set gelato after removing from the ice cream freezer in an attempt to reduce the amount of overrun (air whipped in during churning). I don't know if it made a difference or not, but the final result is more gelato-like than any of my other attempts.
Soften for 25-30 minutes in the refrigerator before serving.
Yield: About 1 1/2 quarts. Serves 1 (over a week or so), unless you remember your sharing lessons from kindergarten better than I.