What kind of ice cream would you like? When's the last time you answered, "Chocolate!"?
The state of the union in ice cream is such that everywhere you look, you are bombarded with off the wall flavor combinations, mix-ins and packaging. The idea of a straightforward, rich, elegant, balanced base is one that appeals to all of us, but is practically something many of us have lost touch with. Brand names are bought and sold by big conglomerates, becoming meaningless representations of what they once were. Misdirection is easier than producing great ice cream. The extent to which companies can divert attention from a mediocre base allows them to divert those dollars into their marketing and packaging budget. It's easier to tell people a product is great than it is to make great ice cream, and tempting to invest in marketing rather than production. Look at how many companies contract others to make (aka co-pack) some or all of their ice cream for them, like Cool Haus, Graeter's and many others.
We know there must be a chocolate ice cream out there that is the total package. I mean, there's a purveyor producing a product great enough to completely satisfy, stand alone and remind us that we don't need Ritz crackers, pretzel swirls, or peanut butter ribbons to enjoy a scoop of ice cream, right? The problem for many consumers is that they just don't know where to look to find the platonic ideal of such a scoop.
Scooping this "medium" (approx. 66-72% Valrhona & Guittard) chocolate by McConnell's got me thinking about the idea that the addition of aggressive flavors and mix ins isn't enhancing the experience, rather it is a diversion to mask an unexceptional, unbalanced base that no one would want on it's own. Chocolate flavors themselves seem to be a game of cram as much cocoa powder as possible into a base as possible to increase flavor intensity. This results in a sandy, grainy texture as it melts on your tongue. Dutchman's Chocolate is produced differently, incorporating the use of an expensive piece of equipment called a shear blender, one that most ice cream companies do not employ. This allows the cocoa to become emulsified into the mix, and when it melts on your tongue it is like a chocolate cream, well blended and not at all gritty.
This excellent, straightforward chocolate ice cream bucks the trend, highlighting the 18.5% butterfat <10% overrun base. This is the one - if you're ready to rediscover what it's like to be completely satisfied by chocolate ice cream, pick up a pint of this flavor.
Where Elliot Found It: Straub's Market
Elliot's Grade: A