I have been away the last couple of weeks (hence the lack of posts on the site), and part of that time was spent visiting an old friend, writer Alex Marshall and his family in Brooklyn. When the topic of ice cream came up, he reminded me of something we had tried on a whim, a few years earlier, that this pouring some sherry he had on hand, over rum raisin ice cream. Well it was really fantastic, the best alcohol, ice cream combination I had ever had, and yet we both somehow had completely forgotten about it until he brought it up on this last visit. Alex, when he isn’t writing about urban transportation and political economy is a major foodie, and has been experimenting some more since, and I received the following from him in an email today..
On Pedro Ximenez sherry and chocolate ice cream.
There are some flavor combinations that are so right that they simply grab you by the tongue when you try them and announce themselves as something you need to keep around for the rest of your life. One of those is the combination of chocolate ice cream, preferably dark, topped with a few spoonfuls of Pedro Ximenez sherry.
For those of you not in the know, Pedro Ximenez sherry is not a brand, but a type of sherry. Other types of sherry include Olorozo, Manzanilla, and so on. All sherry is made by law in the Jerez region of Spain, which is down at the bottom of the country. What distinguishes Pedro Ximenez sherry is that it is very sweet, syrupy sweet. As well as dark and rich. It’s so sweet that I have actually seldom drank it by itself, in a glass. It seems best to me over stuff.
One of the things I’ve put it over is various kinds of ice cream. It was pretty fanatically good over Hagen-Daz rum raisin, for example. But the best I believe is chocolate. Poured over chocolate ice cream , the sherry combines to create this energizing, force-multiplier effect of the chocolate and the sweet sherry taste, and ends up creating a new third flavor. It’s frankly unbelievable. The dark, rich taste of the sherry combines with the dark, rich taste of the chocolate. It’s so good that it tastes sinful, as if you are doing great harm to yourself by consuming it, or if a few nuns will come in and seize it as being against God’s laws. (Okay, that was a bit over the top.)
Distinctions do matter though. I’ve found that different brands or makes of Pedro Ximenez sherry are subtly different from one another, and combine more or less well with ice cream. Ditto with the ice cream. My latest unbelievable combo is to take Steve’s Brooklyn Blackout, which is an ice cream I found down the street in my borough of Brooklyn, that is “milk chocolate ice cream swirled with chocolate stout cake pieces and dark chocolate pudding”, and pour over it El Candado Pedro Ximenez sherry, made by A.R. Valdespino. I bought the sherry at a wine store in Manhattan specializing in Spanish wines. Unfortunately the wine store was going out of business, but I grabbed the sherry. These two together are a home run. The dark, chocolate cake in particular grabs the sherry and hits it out of the park. Does this suggest the sherry would be good poured on dark chocolate cake? Yes.
As great as this is, my standard would be Haagen-daaz chocolate ice cream with any kind of Pedro Ximenez sherry. I’m pretty sure the darker the chocolate ice cream, the better it goes with the sherry. I look forward to experimenting. What lies before me is to make some of my own chocolate ice cream, dark but maybe with some interesting bits in it, and then combine it with the sherry. No way to lose here.
– Alex Marshall
Sherry Ice Cream
An immediate thought that comes to mind is to simply make a sherry ice cream. Take any one of the ice cream base or chocolate ice recipes on the site (or your own favorite) and add anywhere from 1 to 3 tablespoons of the Pedro Ximenez per quart of ice cream, directly into you ice cream mix, right before freezing. If you have a freezer canister ice cream maker that freezes on the very soft side, you may want to use 1 tablespoon instead of 3 or give it some time in your freezer to harden enough. This sherry should work in any recipe that you might add raisins to, not the least of which being rum raisin. I agree with Alex though, that if you going to make a chocolate ice cream to try Pedro Ximenez with, the darker the better. Also note that this sherry is very sweet, so if you decide to use 3 tablespoons you may want to cut back a little on the other sweeteners used in the recipe.