My friend Audrey and I have a serious love for rich chocolate desserts and pretty much any homemade ice cream.
So when Audrey suggested that we make chocolate ice cream, I was all over it.
My Favorite Chocolate Ice Cream Recipe
The credit for this recipe goes to Audrey, who has been making it for her family with great results.
My own meager contributions were to include some salt and instant coffee (both ingredients intensify the chocolate taste), and vanilla to help deepen the overall flavor of the ice cream.
The ice cream is rich, creamy, smooth, and super chocolatey.
Tips for Making This Ice Cream
- Temper the eggs: Instead of adding the egg yolks directly to the hot chocolate mixture, which will cause them to curdle, temper them by whisking a little of the chocolate into the eggs first. This warms the eggs up so it's less of a shock when you add them to the chocolate mixture.
- How to tell when the base is ready: The best way to tell when the base is ready is by checking the temperature, which should be 170°F. The base should have thickened slightly and will be just beginning to steam.
- Strain before chilling: Once your ice cream base has thickened, strain it through a fine mesh strainer. This catches any solids, like bits of egg that might have gotten a bit curdled.
- Blend if curdled: If too much of your custard base curdles you can sometimes save it by immediately cooling it down in a bowl in an ice bath to stop the cooking, and then running it through a blender.
- Chill completely before churning: For the smoothest, creamiest ice cream, be sure to wait until it's completely chilled before churning it. If you're rushed for time, you can put the ice cream base, still in its bowl in the ice bath, in the freezer for an hour, stirring every 20 minutes.
Try These Other Ice Cream Recipes!
- Mexican Chocolate Ice Cream
- Strawberry Ice Cream
- Coffee Oreo Ice Cream
- French Vanilla Ice Cream
- Coffee Ice Cream
Why Two Chocolates Are Better Than One!
Many chocolate ice cream recipes are made with melted dark chocolate, but this one gets an extra chocolate boost from cocoa powder. The combination of the two means richer, more intense chocolaty flavor.
The Best Type of Chocolate to Use
Generally speaking, for the best ice cream flavor and texture you'll want to choose the highest-quality chocolate you can.
Chocolate: For this recipe, you'll need 60% cacao dark chocolate, ideally in baking bar or wafer form, which are the best for melting. Steer away from chocolate chips, as the stabilizers that help to keep their shape while baking prevent them from melting as easily or smoothly.
Cocoa powder: You can use either natural or Dutch-processed cocoa for this ice cream. Dutch-processed cocoa powder will give you an ice cream that's darker in color, with deeper, mellower chocolate notes.
Learn more about our favorite brands of chocolate: What We Cook With: Our Favorite Cocoa, Baking Chocolate, and Chocolate Chips
How to Melt Your Chocolate
If you don’t have a double boiler at home to melt your chocolate, no problem! Here are two alternative methods:
Makeshift double boiler: Place a metal bowl over a small saucepan of simmering water. Melt the chocolate in the bowl over the water until it turns into a silky smooth texture. Be careful not to let the bottom of the bowl touch the water! Stir until the chocolate is fully melted and then turn off the heat and remove the bowl to use your chocolate in the recipe.
Microwave: Add the chopped chocolate to a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at 50% power for 30 seconds, then give it a stir. Repeat until the chocolate is fully melted. NOTE: It's important to melt the chocolate slowly like this so it doesn't overheat (and seize) or burn.
Why Add Coffee to Your Chocolate Ice Cream
Coffee intensifies the flavor of chocolate without notably imparting coffee notes. It's an optional ingredient in this recipe but one that we highly recommend for extra-delicious chocolate ice cream.
How to Make the Richest Chocolate Ice Cream
A custard base, made with egg yolks, ensures a smooth, creamy texture for this ice cream. The secret to making a great custard is to stir it constantly with a wooden spoon over moderate heat so that it doesn't get too hot and become curdled. Once the mixture thickens and coats the spoon and you can run your finger across the spoon, leaving a trail, the custard is ready.
If you want your chocolate rich but not too rich, feel free to go the lighter method and use low-fat milk instead of whole here. While it won’t be as decadent as whole milk, the use of two chocolates and the heavy cream here will still make it plenty rich enough. Don’t substitute the cream, though! This is ice cream, after all!
Our Favorite Ice Cream Maker
In the market for an ice cream maker? Our top pick is the Cuisinart ICE-30BC 2-Quart Automatic Ice Cream Maker. It's easy to use, inexpensive, compact, makes the creamiest ice cream, and the capacity is just the right size for many families.
Learn more about why this ice cream maker is the favorite among the Simply Recipes editorial team: Why This $80 Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker is the Best Ice Cream Maker for Families
More Fun Additions to Try!
Want to jazz up your chocolate ice cream? Feel free to incorporate 1/2 cup of one or two of the following mix-ins in the final churning stage of the recipe:
- Chocolate chips
- Mini marshmallows
- Chopped candy bits
To tweak the flavor, add 2 teaspoons of mint extract for a mint chocolate ice cream, 2 teaspoons of cinnamon for a Mexican chocolate ice cream, or extra instant coffee if you want a mocha-style ice cream. Go wild and make it your own!
Do-Ahead Tips for Ice Cream
Plan ahead to make this recipe! Make your mixture the night before so it has time to chill in the fridge, and make sure your ice cream churn bowl is thoroughly frozen and ready to go. The ice cream mixture must be very cold before it mixes, and the ice cream machine bowl must be frozen before you put it in the machine to churn.
Try Out These Other Chocolate Desserts, Too!
Chocolate Ice Cream
- 4 ounces 60% cacao chocolate
- 1/4 cup boiling water
- 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 cups milk, whole or low-fat
- 2 cups heavy cream
- Pinch salt
- 1/4 teaspoon instant coffee (optional)
- 3 large egg yolks, whisked
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Melt chocolate in a double boiler (you can use a makeshift double boiler by placing a metal bowl over a small saucepan of boiling water, just don’t let the bottom of the bowl touch the water).
Add boiling water, cocoa powder, and half of the sugar:
When the chocolate has melted, transfer to a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed saucepan, turn heat to medium low, and add the boiling water, cocoa powder and half of the sugar. Whisk vigorously until there are no lumps. Remove from heat.
Finish making the chocolate mixture:
Add the milk, 1 cup of the cream, remaining sugar, instant coffee (if using), and the salt to the chocolate base, and whisk vigorously until fully incorporated, then use a rubber spatula to scrape the bottom and sides of the pan.
When the chocolate base is smooth, set the pot over medium high heat and warm, stirring occasionally, until the base starts to steam.
Temper the egg yolks:
Whisk the egg yolks in a medium sized bowl. Once the chocolate base has heated to point of being steamy, temper the eggs by slowly pouring some of the hot base into the eggs while whisking the eggs vigorously to prevent them from cooking.
Once you've incorporated about half of the base with the eggs, pour the egg mixture back into the pan with the rest of the chocolate base and stir to combine.
Heat the base until it starts to thicken, remove from heat, and add the chilled cream:
Lower the heat to medium, and heat the base until it reaches 170°F. At this point the base will have thickened slightly and will just be getting steamy again. Remove from heat.
Stir in the remaining cup of cold cream to prevent further cooking.
Strain out any solids, place the bowl in an ice water bath, and stir in the vanilla:
Pour the chocolate base through a mesh strainer into a bowl to strain out any solids or curds, and place bowl in an ice bath to speed up the chilling. Stir in the vanilla.
Chill the base completely:
Chill ice cream base for several hours, preferably overnight, until completely chilled. (To speed up this process you can put the ice cream base, still in its bowl in the ice bath, in the freezer for an hour, stirring every 20 minutes.)
Process in ice cream maker:
Churn in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions. If you like soft ice cream, eat immediately. Otherwise, transfer it to a freezer container and put it in the freezer for a couple hours to firm up.
Note that the ice cream may be quite hard when you first take it out of the freezer, so you may want to let it sit for a few minutes to soften before trying to scoop.