This weekend was the first really summery one we've had since last year, and luckily a couple of friends of ours, who had recently bought their first house, invited us for a BBQ on Saturday. The weather was beautiful, just BBQ-perfect, and the food was in infinite supply (just the way I like it!) and very tastily marinaded by the man of the house. But, as every time that there's good weather, what I was craving most for was some ice cream. So Sunday came, same temperature, and the time was ripe for whipping out the ice cream machine (don't think for a second that I haven't made ice cream at home since last summer, I'm an all-winter-ice-cream scoffing freak, but somehow it tastes even better when it's hot outside!) and making something new.
Ever since I went to Rome for the first time in 2003, I have been dreaming of the nutella ice cream I had in gelaterias everywhere. It was my favourite flavour from the ones I tried (and trust me, I tried many!) and for some reason on follow-up visits to Rome in later years the nutella ice cream I so loved was gone. What I wanted was a stracciatela-like vanilla ice cream with little hard nutella swirls you could bite into, and which was heavenly, but it seems it had either gone out of fashion in Rome, or it had been replaced by an "all-nutella" chocolatey-hazelnutty ice cream, which although very nice, was too sweet and chocolatey for me. If presented with the choice of only vanilla or only chocolate ice cream, I'm pretty sure 70-90% of the population would go for only chocolate, but I would go for vanilla, as I find too much chocolate "too much". So stracciatela is one of my favourite gelato flavours of all time, as it combines both vanilla and chocolate in just the right proportions.
Inspired by this, and not having tried to make stracciatela at home, I tried to invent a stracciatelonutella version, using a trusted recipe for vanilla ice cream and adding warmed up nutella in swirls before the ice cream was fully set in the freezer. It came out heavenly, and brought back all those memories of Roman Spring in 2003...
However, since the other half is not a big fan of ice cream (yes I know, does that species exist in nature, especially in its male version?), I had to make something to satisfy his puppy-dog look of "and I'm not getting any dessert? Bouhou!", that would go with the nutella ice cream. I've made these brownies dozens of times before, they always come out fantastic and the extra bonus that they are flourless makes them suitable for people who are gluten intolerant, plus you can sort of pretend they're healthier (which the other half does) and feel a bit less guilty (as if the chocolate, butter and almonds are not enough to make you rounder!). Instead of baking them in a tray, I got inspired by Tartelette and baked them in individual tart tins, which made them perfect for topping with generous ice cream scoops. Getting carried away, I added 3 scoops on mine one night, and then I had to be removed by a crane from the sofa and gently placed on my bed, to avoid bursting. I have to say, that's never to be done again...I'm sure there's a moral somewhere there about too much of a good thing... but I haven't heard of it yet...
Flourless chocolate brownies with nutella swirl ice cream
Source: Adapted from Allegra McEvedy and Gourmet Worrier
Makes 8 brownies and 800ml ice cream
For the brownies
- 175g 70% dark chocolate, chopped
- 90g butter
- 2 ½ tbsp strong coffee
- 2 eggs
- 220g granulated sugar
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 125g ground almonds
- ½ tsp baking powder
For the ice cream
- 2 cups full fat milk
- 1 cup double cream
- 1 cup single cream
- 8 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract with seeds (or vanilla seeds from 1 pod), I used this one
- 2 rounded tbsp nutella
For the brownies melt the chocolate and butter in a bain-marie, and stir in the coffee (it's 2 ½ tbsp of brewed coffee, not coffee powder!). In a big bowl whisk the eggs and sugar for 4 minutes, add the vanilla extract, and stir in the chocolate mix. Add the ground almonds and baking powder, making sure you mix well until everything's incorporated. Pour into a buttered tin or pyrex dish (or individual tart cases, as I did in this case) and bake at 160ºC for 35 minutes (25 minutes if it's in tart cases).
For the ice cream mix the milk, single cream, double cream and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat until the sugar is melted. Cool and add the vanilla extract. Churn in an ice cream machine for 30 minutes. Melt the nutella in a saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, and be careful that it just melts and doesn't burn.
Put a layer of the vanilla ice cream in the freezable container you'll store the ice cream in, top with 1 tbsp of the nutella and swirl around with the spoon or a skewer. The nutella will freeze in place almost immediately so you have to be quick. Top this with the rest of the vanilla ice cream, and then with the remaining nutella, swirling again quickly. Freeze until set and serve in scoops over the brownies, while they're still warm. The day after you can rewarm the brownies in the microwave, they become soft and gooey on the inside and are even better!