Friday, July 29, 2016

If you love black pepper, then you'll love this chocolate

I have never heard anyone say that black pepper is their favourite flavour, maybe because it is one of those things that is always around us, on every table at home and at restaurants, just sitting right there next to the salt shaker. But I have a feeling there is a large group of people in this world that silently love black pepper. I am not one of them.  But I am sure there are many, like this girl who loves the taste, or this one who's found a new way to sprinkle pepper on her food, and perhaps the 2,100 people in the Google+ Pepper Lovers Community. So there must be people who would love to have black pepper in their chocolate, right?

I'm guessing that was what the chocolate flavour creators at Akesson's Organic, Ltd. were thinking when they launched the Madagfacsar 75% Trinitario Cocoa & Black Pepper chocolate bar.

As always with Akesson's chocolate, the quality of the chocolate is superb; a shiny, gorgeous chocolate bar with a classy square shape, and the texture is smooth and buttery, with a relatively high cocoa butter content. The ingredients are kept to a minimum, containing just organic cocoa beans, organic cane sugar, organic cocoa butter, organic black pepper and GMO-free soya lecithin.

As for the taste...well, Akesson's Madagascar-origin chocolate normally has a fruity taste, however, the black pepper flavour is all I can taste. And it lingers in the mouth long after the chocolate has melted away. So like I said, a black pepper lover will adore this chocolate bar, since the pepper flavour is so pronounced. But for me? I'd rather taste the chocolate.

If you are a pepper (and chocolate) lover, and interested in tasting this chocolate, you can learn more about it from the brand's website at:  My chocolate bar was purchased at JoJo Coco in Ottawa (

Learn about Akesson's other (wonderful) chocolate bars by clicking here.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Key Lime Pie with White Chocolate Whip and Chocolate Shavings

I love white chocolate paired with key lime flavour. I think it is a lovely and bright-flavoured summer combination. The key to making a tasty white chocolate topping is to use a good quality white chocolate, not super sweet and strong in artificial vanilla flavour, like the white chocolate chips from the grocery store.  I use Camino brand of organic white chocolate 'couverture', which comes in large sizes for professionals, but for the home baker, a couple of Green & Blacks white chocolate bars would be perfect in this recipe, and those already have vanilla bean in them so you can leave it out of this recipe!

The basic Key Lime Pie recipe was originally from The Taste of Home website, but it's since been removed from there, and I made some modifications to the sour cream measurements, along with the topping being all my own creation. If you want to see the original pie recipe, here is the link, but I warn you it may not be there.

This White Chocolate Whipped topping is super yummy and holds up for days longer than regular whipped cream! Use it on any cake, or on a bowl of strawberries or peaches, or Angel Food Cake.

It really is a perfectly textured pie - I think you'll love it! The pie has been a hit at one of the restaurants that I supply with dessert.  It was supposed to be a one-time thing and it is quickly becoming a regular on the dessert special menu. I warn you though, this isn't your average 'cheap' pie, it will cost you over $20 in ingredients, but the taste is worth it!

Enjoy! If you have questions, add them to the comments below and I will try to answer in a timely fashion.

Key Lime Pie Recipe with White Chocolate Whip


Filling (may be enough for 1 pie + 1 small pie, or use remaining filling as a custard or pudding)

  • 2 cans of condensed milk
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 2 tbsp. grated lime peel (Key Lime or regular lime is fine)
  • 3/4 cup lime juice (Key Lime or regular)
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups crushed graham wafer crackers (or crumbs)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup melted butter (unsalted preferably, but either is fine)
  • 1 tbsp. butter for greasing pan
  • 1 8" or 9" pie plate (or round cake pan if nothing else)
Whipped White Chocolate Cream Topping (if not putting the pie in a cake, or to top cake with)
  • 6 ounces white chocolate
  • 1/3 cup + 1/2 cup whipped cream
  • 1 tsp real vanilla extract or scrapings from one vanilla bean

Chocolate Shavings:
  • 1 ounce of white chocolate (warm for 10 seconds in the microwave, then shave with a vegetable peeler). Set aside until ready to use.

Instructions for the crust:

Preheat oven to 350º F.

1. Prepare your pie plate by greasing it with butter.
2. Melt the butter in the microwave for 30 to 40 seconds or in a small saucepan on the stovetop, depending on your preference.
4. Place your crumbs and sugar in a bowl and stir to combine.
5. Pour in the butter and mix with a spatula until the crumb-sugar mix is moist.
6. Press the moist mix into the cake pan and up the sides, pressing firmly on the upper edges to ensure the crust won't be too crumbly.
7. Bake crust for 10 to 14 minutes, until top edges start to brown. Remove from oven and let cool on a cooling rack while you make the filling.

Instructions for the filling:

1. Place the sweetened condensed milk in large bowl. Add the sour cream, vanilla and lime juice.
2. Grate your lime zest with a small grater (the style for Parmesan cheese). Then sprinkle in and blend with a hand mixer, blender, whisk of a stand mixer or a submersion blender (basically whatever you have to blend!).
3. Pour into the baked and cooled pie crust.
4. Bake in a preheated 350º F oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until the very edges of the filling start to bubble.  No browning for this pie! It just needs to stiffen up a bit in the oven.
5. Let cool on a cooling rack for an hour or more, then place in the fridge to chill until cold. Meanwhile, make your topping and/or the cakes for the Piecaken.

White Chocolate Whipped Topping:

1. Chop the white chocolate into 1" pieces and place in a microwave safe bowl with the 1/3 cup cream. Microwave for 1 minute, then remove and stir until smooth. If chocolate chunks still remain, add 10 second intervals in the microwave, (careful not to overheat or the white chocolate's cocoa butter will separate out) and continue to stir until the mix becomes smooth.

2. Stir in the remaining 1/2 cup whipping cream and the vanilla, and stir until mix is smooth.  Refrigerate until cool (about 1 hour).

3. Whip with hand mixer or stand mixer whisk until fully whipped with stiff peaks form.  Do not overbeat (texture will start to look lumpy-ish if over-beaten).

4. Set aside, covered in a bowl in the fridge until you are ready to use it. Simply spatula onto cold pie and top with chocolate shavings, or place in a decorator bag and decorate the pie in a 'fancier' way, then top with the white chocolate shavings.


Monday, July 25, 2016

Chocexchange: Online Curator for Craft Chocolate in Canada

Recently, I told you about a growing number of retailers who are devoted to selling bean-to-bar craft chocolate. This trend is a direct result of the rapid growth in the number of small chocolate-makers, not only across the U.S. and Canada, but also all across the world.  And so I developed a list to keep track of these retailers, so we can all know where to buy bean-to-bar chocolate to get a taste of this still-growing trend.

Personally, I rely on these 'curators' of craft chocolate because I live on an island in Northern Ontario, and can't just pop down to Toronto's Soma Chocolatemaker whenever I want.  I also enjoy being able to buy a variety of chocolate made from different chocolate makers and pay only one shipping fee.  When I started out on my mission to taste all the bean-to-bar chocolate that I can, I had to buy direct from each company, which cost an arm and a leg in shipping fees. So these new specialty retailers of craft chocolate, particularly the online ones, have made my life a lot easier (and less expensive).

I recently learned about a new online retailer based in Montreal called Chocexchange. This is a curated e-commerce marketplace that is intended to connect "curious chocolate eaters with Earth's best chocolate shops." Not only can you purchase individual chocolate bars online, but you can also buy gifts and monthly subscriptions (which, in my opinion, is the best gift for any chocolate lover).

Chocexchange owner, Josh Rubin, stocks many chocolate bars that cannot be found easily in Canada, including Izard Chocolate's beautiful creations, Pump St. Bakery's chocolate bars, Twenty-Four Blackbirds, as well as chocolate by Canadian chocolate makers such as Vancouver-based East Van Roasters, and Ontario's award-winning Hummingbird Chocolatemaker.

Below is an overview and some tasting notes of the chocolate bars that I purchased from Chocexchange. For more information or to make an online purchase, visit the website at: Stocked Chocolate Bars and Tasting Notes:

Hummingbird's Maple 70% bar is bitter and lightly sweet, and definitely delicious. buy it on ChocExchange at:

Twenty-Four Blackbirds chocolate comes in two forms on ChocExchange, a Madagascar 75% single origin chocolate and the Cedeno, an Ecuadorian origin chocolate bar. There is a lovely, high cocoa butter content in the Madagascar. The Ecuadorian chocolate is stiffer, compared to Madagascar, which is what I've become accustomed to. And oddly, the Ecuadorian chocolate was a bit fruity and organic and reminded me more of a Dominican-origin chocolate.

Pump St. Bakery, a British chocolate maker, creates truly lovely chocolate bars with incredible cacao. Chocexchange had two of Pump St. Bakery's award-winning chocolate bars: the Madagascar Criollo 74% and the Crayfish Bay Grenada 70% dark chocolate.

The unique Pump St. Bakery Madagascar Criollo 74% is made with cacao from Akesson's Organic Estate.  The most unique part is the colour of the chocolate: although a 74% dark chocolate, this bar is an amazingly light shade of milk chocolate with a reddish hue. It's quite shocking to open the package and see this colour, even though most Madagascar Criollo chocolate bars are lighter and redder in colour than the average dark chocolate, but this one is absolutely different than most bars.  I assume the cocoa beans used to make it had an extremely high percentage of white beans. As for the taste of the Madagascar Criollo 74%, it was quite nice as well. A little spice and organic flavours upfront, with only a light raspberry taste, not nearly as strong as many of the Madagascar chocolate bars I've become accustomed to.

Pump St. Bakery's Grenada 70% chocolate bar is also quite unique.  It is very fruity, with red fruit and blackberry flavours, including a little red grape flavour. A little acidic but definitely delicate.  The colour is a stark contrast to the Madagascar Criollo, having nearly a black shade.  The cacao came from Crayfish Bay Organic Estate. If you have tasted Grenada Chocolate Company's single origin chocolate, this will be a different experience; the chocolate is more delicate in nature, a little less pronounced in flavour, and yet telling of the single plantation from where the cacao came.

Izard Chocolate makes a lovely line-up of dark chocolate bars, which I purchased on ChocExchange.  You can read my recent review here.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Three Delicate Flavours by Bonnat (plus one must-try dark-milk chocolate bar!)

If you are any kind of aspiring chocolate connoisseur, or budding 'chocophile', tasting Chocolat Bonnat every now and then is an absolute must. Bonnat is a French chocolate company that creates fantastic fine chocolate to include in any tasting line-up. 

The high cocoa butter content, and creamy mouthfeel of Bonnat's chocolate bars truly showcase that French chocolate flair, where chocolate is all about pleasure or `plaisir`. They perfectly contrast many of the new-style two-ingredient chocolate bars that have become the heart of today's worldwide craft chocolate movement (which are pleasurable as well). This also makes Bonnat's creamy bars a great teaching tool for new chocolate makers as they decide what sort of chocolate they want to create, and what 'cocoa butter philosophy' they want to follow.

So I was disappointed when putting together a chocolate tasting workshop a few months ago and realized that I could not buy Bonnat's chocolate in Canada. I cyber-visited my usual haunts, including and other online specialty retailers, but nothing was available at time.  So I e-mailed Bonnat directly, and although they responded to my questions about shipping to Canada, I just got too busy with work to follow up.

Needless to say, I was elated when I was perusing  a few weeks back (which I, admittedly, do often) and discovered some Bonnat chocolate bars for sale.  La Tablette is based in Montreal and ships across both Canada and the U.S., so you can now get your Bonnat fix anywhere in North America! The cost is high (between $10.99 and $18.25 per chocolate bar), but consider it an investment in your 'chocolate education'.

Tasting Notes:

The line-up of dark chocolate bars was not dissimilar, all three bars having beautiful chocolate flavour and otherwise mild and delicate tones. The Porcelana and Hacienda El Rosario, both made of cacao from Venezuela, gave me lovely cream flavours with chocolaty aromas. I say both were delicate because they were low in acidity and free of overwhelming flavours, such as no strong fruit flavours, and no strong hint of nut, wood, smoke or other flavours found in chocolate made from different origin cacao. The Java, a dark-milk chocolate bar, was very different, as you will see from the tasting notes below.

Haiti 75% Dark Chocolate
This chocolate bar, made of cacao beans harvested from Haiti, has a high cocoa butter content, a signature feature of Bonnat's chocolate.
I found an upfront roast flavour, with a balanced taste between light citrus and woody flavours. The company describes it as "rich and fragrant", and I have to agree that this Haiti chocolate is more robust in flavour than the two Venezuelan chocolate bars by Bonnat that I tasted also this week. I truly enjoyed this chocolate bar.

Venezuela Porcelana 75% Dark Chocolate
This was all cream and mild apricot flavour on my palate, with a delicate roast and beautiful - yet complex - chocolate flavour. For those of you who don't know of the 'Porcelana' cacao bean, which is used to make this chocolate, it is: "Extremely rare" cacao - the name "originates from the porcelain white colour of its beans".  It is grown on an ancestral plantation in Venezuela, and Bonnat explains on the website that the annual harvest of the cacao is less than 1000 kg. Bonnat claims "this chocolate will captivate any lover of exception," and I have to agree.

Hacienda El Rosario 75% Dark Chocolate
For me, this was creamy, a hint of spice and mushroom, but with the essence of mild silky, creamy French cheese. On a second tasting, just after Bonnat's Java bar, I tasted a slight fruity bite to it, with a gorgeous lingering roast and hazelnut flavour.  Bonnat's English version of the website says: "Wonderful cocoa multiplicity of delicate flavors, power and sensitivity. It will delight amateurs." 
Java "Indonésie" 65% Milk Chocolate
Bonnat's line-up of three 65% dark-milk chocolate bars is on my list of 'all-time favourites'.  The Java chocolate bar, along with Bonnat's Surabaya and Asfarth bars, take high percentage milk chocolate to the extreme.  With a very high cocoa butter content, Bonnat has achieved a creamy milk chocolate that has very little sugar, a near-exotic colour, and a texture and taste like no other chocolate bar in the world. In a sea of dark-milk chocolate bars, this one truly stands out.  This Java bar had just a hint of smoke and cedar wood flavours, compared to my memory of the taste of Asfarth and Surabaya chocolates. But it still showcases that traditional Indonesian cacao. It also featured the taste of heavily cooked caramel and the taste of cooked cream, like in a creamy milk chocolate truffle. I love it. And I think whether you are a dark chocolate lover, or a milk chocolate lover, you will love it too.

For more information on these chocolate bar, visit the Chocolat Bonnat website at:

To buy them in Canada or the U.S., visit . In the U.K.try the Cocoa Runners website at:

Monday, July 11, 2016

An Innovative Tasting Box Highlights Variations in Nicaraguan Cacao

Last week, I told you about Eau de Rose, a new chocolate maker in Quebec. And today I want to talk about another Quebec chocolate maker that has been around a little longer. I first wrote about Chaleur B Chocolat in February of 2015; at that time the owner and chocolate maker, Dany Marquis, had just begun applying his coffee roasting knowledge (he had built a successful coffee business in Quebec) to roasting cacao and making chocolate from the bean. But over the last year, this now-seasoned chocolate maker has become one of the most innovative in Canada.

I'll tell you about some of Chaleur's more 'colourful' creations in a future post, but right now I want to tell you about an innovative product offering from earlier this year. As Mr. Marquis described it to me, he created "Nicaragua tasting boxes with the 5 botanical varieties at the same %." 

That's right folks. Five chocolate bars. All made with the same percentage of cocoa solids. And all made from a different variety of cocoa bean, grown in different locations of Nicaragua. I was in chocolate connoisseur heaven.

What was really cool about this package was it offered a detailed account of the cacao origin and bean type; a level of detail rarely found on chocolate packages. So not only did each chocolate bar package state the region where the cacao was grown, it also explained the number of producers (farms) the cacao came from, who the 'Main contributors' were, the zones of Nicaragua, the date of the cacao harvest, and the specific type of bean (i.e. Trinitario, Criollo, etc.).

For instance, the 80% Chuno chocolate bar was made from Trinitario-type cacao beans that were harvested between March 27th and April 5th of 2015, and produced by 69 producers. After analysis, these beans were thought to be grandfather to the coveted Criollo beans of Venezuela. Whereas the Johe 80% chocolate bar was made from 'Acriollo' cacao beans (an old Criollo variety) that were harvested on April 24th by 34 producers. You can see an example of this detail, printed on the Johe package, here:

Detail from the back of Chaleur's Johe Nicaragua origin
chocolate bar (80% cocoa solids).

Why is 'detail' so cool? For starters, when tasting chocolate, it is important to know the harvest years and the dates of the cacao harvest, to understand why chocolate of the same origin might taste different from the last batch that you tried. The bean type will also determine the flavour of the chocolate. And of course, the region where the beans are grown will definitely affect the resulting flavour of the chocolate. With five chocolate bars, this can get confusing, but it is also much appreciated by a chocolate connoisseurs and those studying to become knowledgeable chocolate tasters.

Over the course of a few weeks, I tasted all five bars. Each time, I compared and contrasted the chocolate bars to fully understand the difference in taste between them. Detailed tasting notes are below, but to sum up, I found the Nicalizo easiest on the palate, with Johe coming in second and Chuno a close third (although creamy with a light, lovely colour, Chuno still had a bitter bite to it.

The Rugoso and Tenor were the most bitter, and harshest on the palate, with both leaving a dry feeling in the mouth like a very dry red wine might.  Although it would pair well with a dry red wine, I can see from a chocolate makers perspective, creating this type of line-up is eye opening in that it shows which bars would benefit from a little more sugar or cocoa butter, or perhaps a change of roasting time or conche length, to smooth out the bitter flavours.

I am not sure if Chaleur will be offering the same tasting box again, but I know that the chocolate maker is committed to innovation, and his 'chocolate curiosity' is always a driving force, so I imagine we will see more awesome products coming our way in the future.

Chocolate Tasting Notes and Details on Nicaragua Origin Chocolate Bars by Chaleur B Chocolat:

Johe, 80%

Tasting Notes: Fruity with a roasted nuts and cream flavour and a milk chocolate colour.  Delicate, yet reminds me a little of the robust flavour of a Maranon, yet less fruity.

Beans: Acrillado Cacao primarily from the Matagalpa region, determined by geneticists as an old Criollo variety

Harvest: April 24th, 2015

Number of producers: 34

Tenor La Dalia, 80%

Tasting Notes: Very dark in colour, nearly black, with an upfront bitter cocoa flavour - bitter, earthy, hmmmm don't taste the fruit... need to retaste.

Beans: Blend of several unclassified varieties from one plantation in the Northern Highlands of Nicaragua.

Harvest: April 24, 2015

Number of producers: 10

Nicalizo, 80%

Tasting Notes: Very light in colour like the Johe, licorice taste with a milk chocolate taste and fruity finish. A wee bit acidic. This on is the easiest on the palate, with Johe coming in a close second.

Beans:  Trinitario hybrid, grown primarily in the Northern Highlands of Nicaragua, determined to be possible grandfather to Venezuelan Criollo.

Harvest: February 27th to April 24th, 2015

Number of producers: 50

Chuno, 80%

Tasting Notes: Creamy, yet acidic bite. Very smooth, bitter olive flavour, lightly-burnt nuts with husks on (the bitterness of  hazelnut or almond husk), burnt cream with a slightly bitter bite? The lightest shade of brown among all of the chocolate bars.

Beans: Trinitario hybrid originating of the Northern Highlands of Nicaragua, with analysis by geneticists as the possible grandfather to Criollo trees of Venezuela. This explains the colour, if you have had Venezuelan Criollo you'll understand.

Harvest: March 27 to April 5, 2015

Number of producers: 69

Rugoso, 80%
Tasting Notes: This chocolate bar features a spice, and a harsh bite, and certainly has the most bitter flavour of all five chocolate bars. There is an initial upfront bite that is often experienced with most 100% dark chocolate bars. The cool reddish shade shows a clear difference between it and the other bars, and the little berry fruit and red grape aftertaste remind me a little of a Madagascar criollo.

Beans: This chocolate is made from a Trinitario variety, also thought to be grandfather to the Venezuelan Criollo. The Rugoso cocoa bean was awarded a Cocoa of Excellence award at the International Cocoa Awards in 2015 in Paris. Learn more about it here. Dany Maquis, Chaleur founder and chocolate maker, agrees that this is a great bean, but after making the 80% chocolate for this tasting box and testing the beans in his factory, he feels the bitterness of the cacao is more suitable in a 70% dark chocolate. Without even tasting the 70% chocolate, I still agree with that sentiment.

Harvest: between March 10th and April 22nd, 2015
Number of producers: 49

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

La Chocolaterie Eau de Rose: new bean-to-bar chocolate in Quebec

If you regularly read this blog, you know that I am not only on a mission to taste all of the world's finest chocolate offerings, but I am also working my way through all of the chocolate made by the Canadian and American bean-to-bar craft chocolate makers.  The American list is rather long, so it's taking me a bit of time, but I have nearly tasted all of Canada's bean-to-bar chocolate. I say nearly, because just when I think I have reached the end of the list, a new chocolate maker starts up! 

And that is the case with Eau de Rose, or Rose Chocolat as it is branded on the chocolate bar packages, a chocolate maker new on the scene in Canada. In fact, Quebec is where this bean-to-bar chocolate maker has 'bloomed'.

Owned by Karine Drolet, Eau de Rose makes two single origin chocolate bars in its micro-factory. It works directly with a co-operative in Columbia to produce two different origin tablettes (chocolate bars) from the same country: Tumaco 70% and Arauca 70%. Although both are made from cacao beans grown in the same country, these two chocolate bars truly highlight how chocolate flavour is affected by the specific local areas where the cacao is grown.

The Arauca 70% chocolate has only three ingredients but packs a big flavour punch. Before taking the first bite, the aroma was so fruity that I knew it would be a good chocolate experience. The robust acidic fruit flavour is a mix between that familiar fruity Madagascar flavour, and the flavour of Grenada Chocolate Company's chocolate. It has a nice bitter cocoa taste mixed with rich berry flavours, like blackberry, and an interesting roasted fruit flavour, with citrus overtones. The texture is well-balanced between cacao and cocoa butter, with a perfect bitter-sweet profile.

Although also made from beans grown in Columbia, the Tumaco 70% chocolate bar is an absolute contrast to the Arauca 70% chocolate bar. It has a very different flavour than I am used to. There is an upfront flat flavour combined with dried and preserve fruit flavours, like raisin, dried apricots and fig jam, with perhaps that funny mild flavour of groundcherries (Physalis). There is also some nuttiness, like raw walnuts. The texture again is quite smooth and pleasant.

The Tumaco is certainly a contrast to Rose Chocolat's Arauca 70%, which is why this duo is great for a tasting workshop, to teach about the differences in cacao and flavour development. And to show how regionally the cacao can differ depending on the soil in which the Theobroma tree is grown.

These chocolate bars can be purchased online from La Tablette de Miss Choco here. Learn more about the chocolate maker (in French only) on the website at: Ms. Drolet also produces filled chocolates and truffles, such as maple and caramel creams, fruit-flavoured ganaches and even spiced chocolates. Learn more here.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Salted Caramel Ice Cream with Caramel Chocolate Truffle Swirl, and Topped with Cacao Nib Crumble

This recipe was so unbelievably delicious on the first try. So I made it three more times.  Why? Partially because I wanted to be sure I could replicate it. And partially because I wanted to add some chocolate and try removing a little fat from it. And...also  because it was just plain fun and exciting.  Caramelizing sugar is full of risk and reward. There is a high risk of burning it, and thus a constant need to watch it and stir...stir...and stir some more. But the satisfaction when we get it right is the best part: the creation of a lovely caramel flavour with no need for artificial flavourings, colours, or added syrups. What a perfect way to make (and eat) ice cream with less guilt!

Please note:
I did find the caramel ice cream recipe (without the chocolate swirl) online somewhere, but for the life of me, I can't find the link again. I've made a few changes to it, but still, as soon as I find it, I will put the link up here!

Salted Caramel Ice Cream Recipe
with Dark Chocolate Caramel Swirl

For the Salted Caramel Ice Cream you need:
1.5 cups whipping cream
1.5 cups milk (homogenized or whole milk)
6 egg yolks
6 tbsp. butter
1.5 cups organic sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp sea salt

Ingredients for the chocolate swirl listed below.

Ice Cream Instructions:

1. In a dry, heavy-bottomed pot, cook the sugar on medium-high heat. Stir constantly with a whisk and cook for about 3 to 6 minutes until it turns golden brown and melts.

2. Add the butter, cream and milk slowly (and carefully! That sugar is hot and will sizzle!), stir again with the whisk and add the salt and vanilla.  Cook for 1 minute, letting it lightly simmer. Try to melt all the lumps of candy that have formed.

3. Beat the egg yolks in a large bowl (preferably stainless steel, but plastic or glass would be fine if you don't have a stainless steel one). Slowly pour in the hot cream while constantly stirring the yolks. Then, once combined, return everything to the pot (give the bowl a quick rinse and set aside, you'll need it in a moment) and let simmer for a few minutes (while stirring) until the mixture becomes thick and coats your spoon or spatula.

4. Remove from heat and poor the mixture into the bowl you set aside.

5. Prepare an ice bath of ice and water in a bowl that is larger than the bowl holding your ingredients (fill the sink 1/4 way up with cold water and add ice if you do not have a large bowl).

6. Place your ice cream bowl inside the ice bath (the water should not so high as to be in danger of spilling into your ice cream!). Stir constantly until ice cream cools to as low as 4º or 5º C before putting in the ice cream maker.  Or, if you have the time to wait , simply place the ice cream in its ice bath, give it a stir, then place in fridge and stir every 10 minutes or so for about an hour until cooled to refrigerator temperatures.

7. Chill the Ice Cream then Freeze, in two ways:

Using an Ice Cream Maker
Add to ice cream maker and freeze according to the instructions for your specific ice cream maker (about 25 to 30 minutes in my Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker!), but in the last five minutes, add the caramel sauce swirl by streaming it in slowly (squeeze through a hole in a decorator bag or a hole cut from the corner of a freezer bag). Once blended throughout, pour your ice cream into an airtight container and freeze in the deep freeze for at least 6 to 24 hours (you can certainly eat it soft right away or within two hours! But to have it hard enough to scoop onto a cone, you'll want it in the freezer for about a day before-hand).

Without and Ice Cream Maker
Stir the custard the ice bath, as described above, until it resembles a thick custard, then squeeze in the chocolate caramel sauce (see below), then freeze as is. The texture will not be quite the same as with an ice cream maker, but still great.

Dark or Milk Chocolate Caramel Truffle for Swirl (Can also be used to decorate a cake or in filled chocolates)

You need:

8 ounces dark chocolate (70% for a bitter dark chocolate sauce, and 50-60% for a sweeter dark chocolate sauce, or milk chocolate for a sweeter, creamy sauce)
1 cup butter
1/2 cup whipping cream + 1/4 cup
1/2 cup organic cane sugar (or white sugar)
1 tsp sea salt

Sauce Instructions:

1. Caramelize the sugar (just as described above in the ice cream recipe) by placing it in a dry, heavy-bottomed medium-sized pan on the stove-up. Turn on the heat to medium-high (about 7.5) and let sit for a few minutes, until the bottom layer of sugar begins to brown. At this point, stir with a whisk often for another 3 minutes. Your sugar will clump a little, but just try to break it up a bit and let it melt with the others. 

2. Just when it begins to simmer, remove from heat for a few seconds and add the butter and cream. Immediately stir and add back onto the heat. Be careful not to splash any on yourself - this mixture is hot! The sugar may become one big candy, but just keep stirring and working it off the bottom of the pot until all of it melts (or most of it, don't worry it there are leftover crunchy chunks, you can sift them out later). Let simmer while constantly stirring until the temperature reaches about 240º F, or it looks slightly thicker and has simmered for about 30 seconds to 1 minute.

3. Remove the pot from the heat and set aside, again being careful not to touch it with your skin, since it will burn you easily now.  Let cool until it reaches about 80º F (about 10 minutes resting time).

4. Chop 8 ounces of chocolate (about 2 and a 1/4 100 gram bars of chocolate) and place in a bowl. Place a sifter over the bowl and slowly pour your caramel sauce over the chocolate, through the sifter.  Immediately stir until smooth.  If your chocolate is not melting fully, you can microwave for 10 seconds or place over a double boiler. The cocoa butter (liquid fat from the chocolate) may begin to separate once the lumps are gone, but adding the extra 1/4 cup cold whipping cream to the mix at this time will likely make it come back together. Once smooth, let rest on counter until it cools (1 hour) before placing in your ice cream.

5. Add the caramel chocolate sauce to the ice cream mix by squeezing it in slowly through a decorator bag, or a plastic sandwich bag with one corner cut off to squeeze it through. Squeeze it through the hole into the ice cream maker or the ice cream custard before freezing (if no ice cream maker) and mix together.

Options for remaining sauce:
  1. Reserve by freezing it in a sealed container or in a bag until your next batch of ice cream.
  2. Let set 6 hours on the counter, covered, and then roll into balls of truffles, and toss in cocoa powder. Place in mini cupcake or candy papers to serve - delicious!
  3. Decorate a cake or cupcakes with it - so yummy as an icing!
  4. Use as an 'ice cream sundae' topping on other ice creams.

Like a little crunch? Try this Cacao Nib Topping:
Grind 2 oz cacao nibs with 1 oz sugar until well mixed and crumbled together and melting slightly together.  Press onto a piece of waxed paper and let cool, then chop or break up and crumble onto your ice cream for a nice, sweet-nib crunch!