Are you ready for my very first guest post? My friend, Michelle, offered to share her Homemade Chocolate ice Cream with us!
She thinks the dessert section on here is quite bare.
Can you believe she even went as far as to say, “I don’t count your Bacon Cinnamon Rolls as dessert.”
Okay, fine. That’s fair. They are probably more of a breakfast food — a very nutritious and delicious breakfast food.
Here in West Virginia, we have all four seasons which means I get to cherish the bounty each offers. One of my favorite things about the summer is all the fruit that’s available. I try to use fruit as much as I can in as many ways as I can for as long as I can, knowing choices won’t be as plentiful (or delicious) as the weather turns to Fall and Winter.
We had friends coming over for dinner and I wanted to make ice cream for dessert—strawberry is my favorite, but I thought I’d ask my guests (one of whom is a pretty picky eater) to select the “fruit of the day”.
Her choice? Chocolate.
Seriously? I guess that’s why you shouldn’t ask a question if you’re not prepared for the answer.
Making ice cream rewards the person who plans ahead. I don’t have a freezer big enough to keep my mixer frozen all the time, so if I know I’m going to make ice cream, I need to make space two days ahead of time to make sure the container is FROZEN before I start. While it’s best to make the mixture the day before, if you start early enough you can make it ahead of time. Just remember it needs at LEAST 4 hours to cool and expand in the refrigerator and it’s best with 8 hours in there.
I’m Swiss and can say proudly I’m a chocolate snob — I figure it’s a cultural thing so it must be okay.
However, ice cream is an exception. When I make it, I use Hershey’s powder (and trust me when I say it pains me to write those words).
The ingredients themselves are pretty simple:
Half and half, 3 cups
Heavy cream, 1 cup
Cocoa powder, 1.5 oz
Egg yolks, 8
Sugar, 9 oz
Vanilla, 2 tsp
The key is to be very precise in the measuring and the cooking, and to use quality ingredients. We are a full fat family and we like our ice cream CREAMY which means I use half and half and cream. Some recipes may call for milk and half and half and it’s important to remember that the water content in those ingredients is higher so it will freeze differently.
When using half and half and cream, it will take awhile to cool but ohmygosh it will be worth it!
Whenever I make desserts, I always weigh ingredients instead of measuring them. Even though my “real life” cooking is usually “a bit of this, a dash of this”, when it comes to desserts, the scale comes out:
The first step is to add 1 cup of half and half and all the cocoa into a fairly large saucepan on medium heat.
Whisk to combine both. It will take a bit of work—the cocoa likes to stick together!—so keep mixing until it is smooth and be careful it doesn’t splash.
Once everything is mixed, add the rest of the half and half and all of the cream. It should look like weak chocolate milk:
Let all of it heat through, stirring occasionally, until it starts to simmer.
In the meantime, carefully separate 8 yolks. I know there are tools out there, but I use the old, crack and separate method. I am VERY careful to only include the yolk—take your time, it will be worth it:
I hate to waste food, and separating eggs for the yolks means I’m stuck with a lot of whites. I use white for a lot of different things when I cook, and my favorite is an egg white scramble. That recipe calls for 3 whites, so when I make ice cream (or crème brûlée or something similar), I’ll save my whites in groups of 3 for later use:
Once the yolks are ready comes the true manual labor. Normally, I use my stand mixer; however, this time I used a whisk so I could take a better photo. When you first start mixing yolks, they’re bright yellow.
After a little bit, it starts to get lighter and increases a little in volume:
A little bit more and the volume really takes off (look how much lighter it is!):
And then, when it looks like this, you’re ready to add the sugar:
At about this point, your chocolate mix should be ready.
Take it off the heat and let it cool while you continue.
Measure the sugar to add it to your egg yolks:
Once the sugar is added, the mixing becomes VERY thick and heavy. If you’re doing this by hand, brace yourself because it’s going to be WORK!
You can see how thick it is here, and also how much lighter it got!
Once everything is finally blended, when the yolks and sugar are pretty smooth, thick, and light in color, you’re ready to add the chocolate and cream.
* * This is one of the most critical steps (after timing) and if you aren’t careful, your hard work and ingredients will be ruined.
While the chocolate and cream have cooled, they’re certainly not cold, and if they were directly added to the yolks, you’d get cooked egg yolks and an unappetizing mess. To avoid this, chefs use what’s called tempering: adding a little of the hot mixture to the cool/cold mixture to ease in the process and avoid a shock. I pour a small amount, probably 1/4 to 1/2 of a cup of the cream and milk and start whisking right away.
Once it’s well incorporated, I add a bit more. The picture below is after the second addition and you can see the chocolate/cream and egg/sugar mix is starting to blend:
Once the mixture is tempered, I can add everything and mix it smooth:
I return the contents back to the pan, and put the heat on medium low. (Around a 3 or 4 out of 10 on my stove which is induction). Stir it regularly, but not constantly, until it starts to thicken.
For good measure, I use a candy thermometer and watch it until it hits 175 degrees.
This can take about 10 minutes and you don’t want to rush it—better to keep it low and slow so nothing gets over done or burnt. While I waited, I cleaned the bowl that contained the egg yolks and put it in the fridge so it would be cool and ready once I was ready to chill my mixture.
Once it reaches the magic 175 and it’s nice and thick, I’m ready to transfer it to the cleaned, cool dish and let it get ready for the fridge.
You can see it’s not perfectly uniform in color—that’s okay, it will become perfect as it cools.
Once it’s in the dish, leave it on the counter to cool for 30 minutes.
I keep my spatula in there because I will stir it every so often to help it cool and become smooth and uniform.
30 minutes later, I add the vanilla and it goes into the fridge and I wait (and wait!) for 4-8 hours. Today I only had 6, so that’s all it got. I would stir it every hour or so and the color became darker as it also increased in volume.
My friends were coming at 6, so at 5:30, I took out the frozen base and got ready to make the ice cream. My machine has a max liquid volume of 1 liter so I needed to measure before I added.
After about 20 minutes, it started to really take its form. Normally, I would have added chocolate chunks, but knowing my friend is picky, I figured straight chocolate is probably the way to go:
Once it was finished and a consistency I liked, I scooped it out into a dish so it could finish setting in the freezer.
My husband got to lick the paddle and had more than his share of samples—you know, quality control. . .
We were ready for dessert around 8 and by then it was firm and ready to scoop!
After Michelle’s “picky eater” friend read this post she said, “Chocolate is the best fruit!”
I love that.