As I an ice cream fanatic, I frequently talk to people about ice cream. Discussion often turns to the flavors they enjoy (and trying to get me to make them) and ice cream shops they like to frequent. Through these conversations it has become apparent that people are either chocolate ice cream lovers or they are not. I am not sure why this dichotomy exists, as I enjoy almost every ice cream flavor in existence, but to some chocolate ice cream is not exciting.
I love chocolate ice cream. When I was child, it was the only flavor I requested. The older I get the more I appreciate other flavors and I am often drawn to those that include fruit, but nothing replaces a creamy and decadent scoop of chocolate ice cream.
You may have noticed that there are a couple chocolate ice cream recipes on this blog, but I have never made a plain chocolate ice cream. I enjoyed the other two flavors (Dark Chocolate Stout and Spicy Chocolate), but these previous attempts did not have the deep, rich chocolate flavor I was looking for. I thought that it may be because I was using regular cocoa powder instead of Dutch-processed cocoa powder. What is the difference? Cacao beans that are Dutch processed are soaked in an alkaline (low-acid) solution prior to pressing. The pH is then raised and the acids present in the natural cocoa are neutralized. The resulting powder is often described as less harsh tasting, and because the Dutch processing removes the acidic components of chocolate (sour, bitter, astringent, fruity tastes) the other mellow flavors become more pronounced. This is why Dutch-processed cocoa powder is often favored over the natural version. [If you are interested in learning more, check this great article by Cooks Illustrated.]
Back to the ice cream. For this attempt at making chocolate ice cream, I had two things working in my favor. I finally found and purchased some Dutch-processed cocoa powder and I had two bars of Scharffen Berger 82% Extra Dark Chocolate in my possession. Using these high quality ingredients to make the ice cream resulted in dark and rich chocolate ice cream reminiscent of chocolate pudding (it almost set like pudding in the refrigerator). I believe this base would also make for some excellent pudding pops! Enjoy!
Try out this recipe with your own chocolate ingredients to suit your individual taste. Higher cocoa content will mean a darker tasting chocolate ice cream. Don't skip the blending step. It will better incorporate the dry ingredients and make the ice cream smoother.
2 1/4 cups (560 ml) heavy cream
6 tablespoons (50 g) unsweetened, Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 cup (200 g) sugar
Pinch of salt
6 ounces (170 g) extra dark chocolate, chopped (I used bars containing 82% cocoa)
1 cup (250 ml) whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon fine ground coffee or espresso
Combine the cream, cocoa powder, sugar and salt in a large saucepan. Whisk to combine. Heat the mixture, continuing to whisk frequently, until the mixture comes to a full boil (it will start to foam up). Remove saucepan from heat and whisk in the chocolate until it is completely melted. Whisk in the milk, vanilla, and coffee grounds. Pour the mixture into a blender (or use an immersion blender) and blend for 30 seconds, until very smooth.
Transfer ice cream mixture to a medium bowl. Place in the refrigerator and chill the mixture thoroughly (at least 4 hours or overnight). Once chilled, pour into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Place plastic or parchment over ice cream (to prevent ice crystals) and freeze until firm, at least 4 hours.