Chocolate Ice Cream

My chocolate ice cream is richer than the legendary Toscanini’s Chocolate No. 3 (Dark).” I made that boast last year, but never followed up with any proof, or even a recipe.

A combination of feeling like cooking again, summer heat, and the arrival of a new kitchen gadget spurred me to make said chocolate ice cream. My original recipe was from the Cook’s Illustrated booklet How to Make Ice Cream, but I discovered an improvement in David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop. Unlike the Haagen-Dasz Five, this recipe requires eight ingredients: two cups of heavy cream, a cup of whole milk, five egg yolks, three tablespoons of Dutch-process cocoa, five ounces of chopped bittersweet chocolate (I used Valrhona 62%), three quarters of a cup of sugar, a half teaspoon of vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt.

A Brief Digression About Heavy Cream

When I started making ice cream, I knew enough to always buy heavy cream instead of “whipping cream,” because the butterfat content was different in each product (lower in whipping cream). Later I started seeking out heavy cream that was pasteurized instead of ultra-pasteurized (less degradation of the fat), which is usually found in organic brands. This year, when I first bought heavy cream from my neighborhood “local only” market, the fellow behind the counter pointed out that the cream wasn’t modified with carrageenan. I thought he was joking, but then I started reading labels more carefully. Most store-bought heavy cream contains carrageenan to aid in maintaining peaks when whipped. In addition, you’ll find mono-and diglycerides have been added to improve the aeration capacity of the cream. Either of these additives may not alter the taste of the cream, but I prefer to work with pure ingredients, even if they cost more.

Back to the recipe: I whisked the cocoa into a cup of the cream, heating slowly until it came to a low boil.

I let the mixture simmer for another thirty seconds before removing the pan from the heat and adding the chopped chocolate.

I stirred until the chocolate was completely melted and smooth.

I stirred in the remaining cup of cream and transferred the mix to a large measuring pitcher.

Using the same pan, I warmed up the milk, added the sugar and salt, and stirred until everything was dissolved. I whisked the yolks together in a separate bowl, then slowly added the warm milk mixture, whisking all the time to temper the eggs.

I returned the eggs to the pan set over medium heat, and stirred until the custard thickened. Simple egg/cream custards usually thicken around 175° F, but the addition of the sugar acts as a buffer, allowing the temperature to go higher without curdling the eggs. I’ve made a few custards in my time, so I tend to go by feel: as the custard thickens, the drag on the spatula increases.

I poured the custard through a fine-meshed strainer (to catch any potential overcooked egg bits) into the chocolate and cream, which was set over a bowl of ice water. I stirred until the mix cooled down to room temperature, then added the vanilla extract. (Adding the extract while the mixture is still warm cooks off some of the aromatic compounds.)

After an overnight stay in the fridge — it’s essential to have the mix as cold as possible — it was time to churn up some ice cream. As recently as last month I used a Cuisinart ice cream maker with a stainless steel insert that had to be pre-chilled to freeze the goop inside (a eutectic mixture, today’s vocabulary word). After two years of patient waiting, I was finally able to score a refurbished Cuisinart pro machine, courtesy of Woot!. It gets colder, has a slower churn speed, and allows me to make more than one batch at a time. The downside is that it is LOUD. Observe:

Pretty noisy, but that’s what should be expected when, to paraphrase Dr. Egon Spengler, you run an unlicensed refrigeration device on your kitchen table.

Thirty five minutes later I had lovely, thick, cold ice cream. I transferred it to two containers and put them in the freezer to harden. Then I licked the dasher clean. You didn’t think I’d let that chocolately goodness go to waste, did you?

How did it taste? As advertised, it had a deep chocolate flavor and a perfect, silky mouthfeel. There wasn’t a hint of the graininess and bitterness which can come from adding to much cocoa (I’m looking at you, Herrell’s Cocoa Pudding), and it wasn’t overly sweet. I can only eat a scoop of this at a sitting, it’s that rich. Still, I’ll be surprised if it survives the weekend. He Who Will Not Be Ignored has been eying the freezer…


Cream, milk, eggs: Sherman Market

Chocolate, cocoa: Whole Foods

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5 Responses to Chocolate Ice Cream

  1. Terra says:

    I’m amazed you haven’t gotten a comment from Bryan yet. He just got a fancy new ice cream maker too. Last week he did up a very cocoa-y chocolate-mint ice cream flavored with fresh mint from our container garden. Interesting. Maybe you guys should have a churn-off.

  2. Chris says:

    Where / When do you add the vanilla extract?

    • David says:

      I’ll fix it in the post, but the extract is added after the mix cools down to room temp, but before you put it in the fridge for the overnight chill.

  3. Moopheus says:

    Yeah, after a few years of not having a machine, I got a Lello 4070. A new ice cream machine is indeed a happy thing. I don’t have the Lebovitz book, but it seems an inevitable addition to the ice cream library. I usually just make up the formula on the fly.

    Yes, I completely agree that the cream must be not-ultrapasteurized and free of additives. The additives don’t affect the taste so much as the mouthfeel. It seems to me to be noticeably gummier. But good cream is getting harder to find. The cream from the Highlawn dairy is very good.

    Reminds me that I’ve been meaning to order an extra bowl for the Lello.

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