Think it’s not possible to make chocolate ice cream with the smooth and creamy mouth feel of your favorite scoop shop indulgence? Think again. This custard style recipe sets a new standard for homemade ice cream. And because chocolate ice cream is my family’s favorite, it’s easily the most tested recipe in my ice cream collection. I’ve made many variations of it, and what I present here is the ultimate, at least to our taste buds. But you can’t argue taste, so I’ve thrown in some variations for you to play with. For smoothest texture, you need an ice cream maker. I can swear by this one I’ve been using for years: Cuisinart ICE-20 Automatic 1-1/2-Quart Ice Cream Maker, White
For flavor, the most important considerations are the cocoa and chocolate you use. If you choose brands you’ve used for other purposes and know you like them, you’re going to like the ice cream. Here, I use Omanhene unsweetened cocoa: Omanhene All Natural, Single Origin Cocoa Powder, non-alkalized, 7 Ounce Canister (Pack of 4) with Endangered Species Chimpanzee, Supreme Dark Chocolate (72%), 3-Ounce Bars (Pack of 12), because we happen to love that combination, and both of those products are sustainably made. Here are some other possibilities:
- If you want a mild, milk chocolaty ice cream, omit the melted dark chocolate, and use just the 1/3 cup of natural cocoa.
- For a really dark chocolate, substitute 3 tbsp of Dutch process cocoa for the natural cocoa, and use 2-4 ounces melted dark chocolate.
- You can make a medium dark chocolate using 4-5 tbsp of Dutch process cocoa and omitting the melted chocolate entirely. (This is my 2nd favorite variation.)
Be forewarned: I’ve found that different brands of Dutch process cocoa vary tremendously in flavor, so I don’t recommend using it unless you know you like that brand. One I happen to like is Valrhona Chocolate Cocoa Powder 100% cacao 1 lb, and one I don’t care for is Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa. But your taste may differ. The right brand to use is the one you like.
I don’t recommend increasing the quantity of cocoa beyond 1/3 cup to get a darker chocolate, because too much cocoa gives the texture a strange dryness. If you want a darker, deeper chocolate, either increase the amount of melted dark chocolate, or use Dutch process cocoa.
Texture is the hard part of homemade ice cream. And it’s all chemistry. You’re fighting crystallization because it creates a gritty mouth feel. This is why custards make such good ice cream. As the eggs are slowly cooked, the proteins denature and bind water molecules, so they can’t precipitate out of the ice cream. The tapioca (or corn) syrup also helps. It, too, binds water molecules, further reducing crystallization. It also gives the ice cream a slight chew, making it linger on the tongue, prolonging the pleasure of smooth and creamy deliciousness.
Try whisking a teaspoon of cinnamon or coriander, or a pinch of cayenne, in with the cocoa. Or perhaps add 2 tablespoons of orange, raspberry, almond, hazelnut, or coffe liqueur to the cooled custard, just prior to churning. For a mocha flavor without alcohol, add a teaspoon of espresso powder. Feel free to add 3/4 cups of your favorite nuts, chocolate chips, or crumbled cookies.
The ultimate smooth and creamy chocolate ice cream
Makes about 1 quart (more, if you add nuts, chips, or crumbled cookies)
- 1/3 cup unsweetened, natural cocoa powder
- 3/4 cups sugar
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 3 large to extra large, whole eggs
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup whole or low fat milk
- 3 tbsp tapioca syrup or corn syrup (NOT high fructose corn syrup)
- 2 oz. dark chocolate
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- In a small bowl, whisk cocoa, sugar, and salt together until there are no lumps. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk eggs until yolks and whites are well combined. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, melt the dark chocolate. Set aside.
- Add cream, milk, and tapioca syrup to a 4 quart saucepan and, stirring frequently, bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.
- Whisk the cocoa mixture into the cream mixture, until dissolved. Remove from heat.
- Temper the eggs by slowly drizzling about 1 and 1/2 cups of the hot cream mixture into the eggs, as you vigorously whisk the eggs.
- Slowly pour the tempered egg/cream mixture back into the 4 quart saucepan, as you whisk the remaining contents of the pan.
- Put the 4 quart pan on medium-low heat, and while stirring constantly and scraping the bottom of the pan (preferably with a heat proof spatula like this one: Rubbermaid Commercial Products 1963 Scraper for High Heat, 13-1/2″ Long, though a spoon will do), cook until the mixture thickens and reaches a temperature of about 170-175. It should take 7-14 minutes, and mixture should be quite noticeably thicker than raw cream. Remove from heat.
- Gradually whisk about a cup of the hot mixture into the melted chocolate, whisking after each addition until it is smooth.
- Pour the melted chocolate / hot cream mixture into the 4 quart pan with the rest of the custard, and blend well.
Pour through a fine mesh strainer into a large, clean bowl.
- Refrigerate immediately, or pre-cool in a cold water bath for about 30 minutes. Stir occasionally for the first 30 minutes of cooling.
- Refrigerate at least 4 hours, preferably overnight. It will continue to thicken until almost pudding-like.
- Stir in vanilla extract, and churn in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions.
- Transfer to a 1 quart freezer storage container, and freeze until ready to eat.
If you have any problems with this recipe, please feel free to let me know. The key to great custard style ice cream is your technique, so if there is anything I need to do to make the instructions clearer, I want to know about it!
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