Ask the Alchemist #43

I am trying to figure out the best way to make my homemade chocolate behave in ice cream. Do you have any suggestions or recipes for how to make this work?

Well, this is not so much a chocolate question, but it does bring up a couple points that I will take a couple minutes to address. And summer is upon us, so it’s also perfect timing.

First off, if all has gone right, your homemade chocolate should act no different than commercial chocolate, so any recipe that calls for chocolate, you can use your own alchemical creation. That is point one.

That said, point two (as I’ve noted in the past) is that if you are cooking or baking with your own chocolate where you incorporate it into a liquid, a little lecithin in the mix is helpful to make sure it all stays together.

With those points in mind, it’s just a matter of finding a chocolate ice cream recipe you like. Myself, I adore working with David Lebovitz’s recipes. And that brings me to my third point. Many recipes you find include cocoa powder. But you want to use your own chocolate solely. Generally, I’ve had very good luck just substituting double the amount of chocolate and cutting back on the equal amount of fat (since chocolate is cocoa solids and cocoa butter). If you really crunch the numbers, it will be a touch off, but from a practical standpoint I’ve yet to find it makes any difference. Below is one of David’s recipes:

2 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons (1/2 oz) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
5 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
5 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Using my own advice, that turns into the following:

2 cups heavy cream
6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (with lecithin), chopped
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup granulated sugar
Pinch of salt (smoked salt anyone?)
6 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In this case, I removed the 1/2 ounce of cocoa powder, doubled it, and added 1 oz of chocolate. Since no direct fat was used, I did not remove any (and, really, it’s ice cream – can there be too much?). Since I did not remove any fat, I increased the egg yolks by one to be sure it would emulsify properly. With that out of the way, proceed as normal for making ice cream. And so you have it, here is the rest of the directions.


Bring 1 cup of cream to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer at a very low boil for 30 seconds, whisking constantly. Remove from the heat and add the chopped chocolate, stirring until smooth. Then stir in the remaining 1 cup cream. Pour the mixture into a large bowl, scraping the saucepan as thoroughly as possible, and set a mesh strainer on top of the bowl. Warm the milk, sugar, and salt in the same saucepan.

In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolk. Slowly pour the warm milk into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan. Stir the mixture constantly over the medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula (170 degrees on an instant-read thermometer). Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the chocolate mixture until smooth, then stir in the vanilla. Stir until cool over an ice bath. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. (If the cold mixture is too thick to pour into your machine, whisk it vigorously to warm it up and thin it out.) My personal favorite proportion of salt to ice is 1:4. So, for every quart of ice, add one cup of ice.

This is another great Chocolate Ice Cream recipe. Just convert the 35 g cocoa powder and 85 g chocolate to 155 g of chocolate and keep on going.
Happy Summer time Ice Cream!

2 Responses to “Ask the Alchemist #43”

  1. I’ve always wondered if it would be possible to thin out a liquid ganache with some regular milk and run it through an ice cream machine. (Mine is a counter-top model that has a canister which is frozen prior o use, and has a paddle that stirs the mix as the canister freezes it.) Would that make a really simple ice cream recipe or would it be too rich or break, or just not freeze well? Suggestions?

  2. Jennifer,

    Well, I was about to answer this, but realized it was going to get long. So, thank you for “Ask the Alchemist #44”. The short preview is no, you can’t just add milk and go….or can you…stay tuned?

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