In a small parking lot in Roland Park, there is a modest strip mall that Baltimore claims was the very first in America. It boasts a few small businesses and French bistro called "Petit Louis," that might be the closest thing we have nowadays to authentic kitsch.
Since expectations are low when you walk up to its tudor exterior, it has the advantage of not possibly letting its customers down any further. But beyond this, as you open the door, it feels as though you've left Baltimore altogether and taken a transatlantic flight in two steps.
There is a marble fireplace on one wall and half-lampposts resting on wooden dividers around the room. There is no music, and the velvet seats are burgundy and worn. Each time I have gone, I've inevitably sat next to a woman wearing a pillbox hat and small white gloves, pretending just for a minute that she really is on the outskirts of Paris.
And she's not far off. The quality of the food and the sweet, unassuming atmosphere lifts one out of northern Baltimore, half a world away. It was here that I first tried their Grand Marnier chocolate ice cream and became determined to make it when I returned home for winter break.
Here I am, months later, and I kept this promise to myself when I finally made that mouth-watering, ridiculously rich dessert. To begin, I melted 3 oz of semi-sweet chocolate and 1 oz of unsweetened baker's chocolate with 1/2 cup of heavy cream in a small pot on low.
Stir this until all of the chocolate is melted and the mixture is relatively blended. I then turned my attention to a larger saucepan and poured in 2 cups half and half. While that heated (remove from heat before it boils), I added 1 cup of sugar to 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder.
I gradually added this to 8 egg yolks running on a kitchen aid speed of two, until the mixture was homogenous. Then, still on speed 2, I added the chocolate mixture and half and half from before. I added this mixture back to its pot and heated it (again, before it boiled). Transfer your batter to another bowl and add 1.5 cups of heavy cream.
Only then should you add 1/4 cup Grand Marnier, and taste it to make sure the taste is potent enough. Add at your discretion. When your mixture has cooled thoroughly, add it to your ice cream maker and follow instructions. Freeze until you have ice cream! I would make mine a tad creamier, perhaps substituting some of that half and half for regular whipping cream. You can only eat one scoop in a sitting though, so it lasts...