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We have already discussed my general ice cream ‘problem’ over here when we made some vanilla w shaved chocolate. What we DIDN’T discuss was my chocolate ‘problem’. Yes, I love ice cream, but for as far back as I can remember chocolate has been my feel better food.  You know, the food that when you have had one of those days where the whole world needs to burn, or at the very least forget your name, and you decide to eat your feelings? On those days I NEED chocolate. Ask my husband, NEED. My go-to in these situations, and we all have them, is chocolate ice cream. Haagen Dazs Chocolate to be specific. An expensive, yet delicious, habit.

A friend invited me to tag along to an ice cream social last night (hows that for great timing, huh?) and we basically were allowed to sample about 50 different ice creams from a popular grocery store line. Jealous? It was pretty sweet. See what I did there? I went for science. How many other opportunities would one get to conduct ‘research’ on 50 flavors of ice cream? See…SCIENCE. Don’t look at me like that. So, in the interest of SCIENCE I sampled about 5 different kinds of chocolate ice cream.

Now granted my expectations were not premium quality ice cream, I knew what I was getting when I went and, for the money, it is ok ice cream BUT all of the chocolate ones I sampled had the same issue – no balance. Three of them had next to no chocolate flavor at all, just brown sweet; of the other two, one had some chocolate depth but was still overly sweet and the other had some but not enough. I wasn’t expecting to have my doors blown off, the particular brand we went to try is not one that I purchase – every flavor I have ever had was over the top sweet & I don’t think they do a good enough job faking premium as far as the texture goes. After sampling a bunch I feel safe saying the sweet thing is an across the brand issue & I still think they miss the mark texturally, they just don’t have the same mouth feel as a really good ice cream, something cheap ice cream producers rarely do. The only two store brands of chocolate that I buy are Haagen Dazs & Edys. Both have deep chocolate flavor, texturally are as close to perfect as you can get and represent my idea of perfect chocolate ice cream. Neither are cheap. Both are worth every penny.

My mission is clear. Make a chocolate ice cream as good as Haagen Dazs, if not better. Mission happily accepted.

I started with reading the back of the Haagan Dazs label. It literally listed 5 ingredients – cream, skim milk, sugar, egg yolk & cocoa. Yes. Cocoa. The very best chocolate ice creams are made with cocoa, not chocolate. Why, you ask? Because the amount of chocolate needed to get a deep flavor in a frozen ice cream is prohibitive to actually making a good ice cream. Some recipes do use it, most often with cocoa, I happen to agree w Haagen Dazs, cocoa works better & with far fewer potential issues. When flavors are chilled or frozen they are slightly muted – cocoa has the hutspa to shine through hot or cold thanks to its bitterness & acidity. They prefer to use skim milk & cream, I like whole milk & cream, end result is the same with either combo, the ratios are just far different.

After some toying around with sugar & cocoa amounts this is the recipe I settled on & have used this one repeatedly always with stellar results. It is creamy, sweet enough and has a ton of deep chocolate flavor. Consistency wise it is similar to Haagen Dazs, which was my benchmark. Perfect!

For this recipe I added a bunch of crushed up toasted almonds – toasted almonds chocolate ice cream is one of my most favorite things ever and isn’t one I can find in the freezer often, apparently it’s boring. Whatever, it’s delicious. I toasted my almonds whole, crushed them up with my trusty rolling pin and tossed them in right before I took the ice cream out of the machine.

I go into much greater detail about the machine and ice cream in general in the initial post over here, feel free to check it out if you’d like the details & some background. But I’ll say it again here – making your own ice cream affords the ability to eat the premium ice cream of your creation at the same price as, if not less than, the cheaper grocery store brands with NONE of the crap fillers & stabilizers they add to make their ice cream profitable. All that aside, it’s FUN. I haven’t met a kid yet, or adult really, who doesn’t want to see how ice cream is made or pick out all sorts of crazy things to put in it.

Method wise this is the same as the vanilla except the cocoa is whisked into the cream as it heats on the stove to remove any lumps and get it mixed in prior to tempering the hot cream into the egg yolk & sugar to make the base. Let’s make some chocolate ice cream!

Chocolate Ice Cream (Toasted Almond Chocolate)

  • 1 1/2 cup Heavy Cream
  • 2 1/2 cup Whole Milk
  • 1 each Vanilla Bean
  • 1 cup Cocoa Powder (I use Hersheys)
  • 8 each Egg Yolks
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract
  • pinch of Salt
  • (optional) 1 1/2 cups Crushed Toasted Almonds

Get the cream & milk in a pot on the stove over medium heat. Cut the vanilla bean in half and get it into the cream to steep. Add the cup of cocoa and use a whisk to work the cocoa in until there are no lumps or clumps. Let the cream heat slowly over medium heat to prevent any boil overs, those suck to have to clean up. Stir it periodically.

While the cream mixture heats up get your yolks, sugar, salt & vanilla extract in a bowl and whisk together to combine. When the cream comes to a boil slowly temper the cream into the yolk mixture while continuously whisking so the eggs warm up gradually. Once about half of the cream mixture is added the yolks should be warmed up.

Get the cream mixture back on the stove and bring back to a simmer. Temper the egg mixture into the simmering cream slowly, letting it all come to temp together. Once it is all mixed in keep stirring over medium heat until the mixture thickens up. You need to stir it the whole time and not let it come to a hard simmer or boil, this will scramble the eggs. Thickening takes about 5 minutes, it is done when it will coat the back of a wooden spoon nicely (aka nappe).

When it is all thickened up strain the mixture through a hand strainer into a storage vessel of some flavor and get it into the fridge to cool completely. I know I said it before but I’m going to say it again – LET IT COOL COMPLETELY OR IT WILL NOT FREEZE. I usually let it sit overnight in the fridge just to be safe. If you are in a hurry you can put the container of base into a ice bath & stir it often to cool it faster. Either way the mixture has to be at 33-35 degrees before you put it in the machine.

Spin the mixture according to the machine manufacturer’s instructions, mine takes about 30 minutes to go from cream to ice cream. When it is in its last minute or 2 I add the chopped up nuts (or what ever you are adding) to let them mix in. When its done transfer to a good storage container & get in the freezer to harden up – out of the machine it’s soft serve, it needs 3-4 hours to harden up into hard ice cream.

Definitely worth the effort. A note about ice cream mix ins – be wary of when you add them if they can get soggy. Things like cookies, nuts, even some candies, do not hold up well when added to ice cream too early. You want to get them into the mix and into the freezer quickly so they do not have time to soak up much moisture & get soggy, hence they are added in at the very last minute & then sent to the freezer to freeze, no time to get wet. That’s the secret to why Oreos are never soggy in ice cream.

I have a mocha that kicks the crap out of every coffee ice cream I have ever had on deck and some fruit ice creams, too. Then we head into SORBET!