Mexican Chocolate Ice Cream

DessertMexicanChocolateIce Cream

Homemade chocolate ice cream flavored with cinnamon and a dash of spice.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

There is one image from my childhood that is seared into memory, that of the yellow octagonal box of Mexican chocolate on the top shelf of our kitchen pantry. I can still remember my mother making pots of hot chocolate for us, and even using a Mexican chocolate stirrer to beat up the hot chocolate until it was frothy. What makes Mexican chocolate different from regular chocolate? The cinnamon. That’s the distinctive flavor. With this ice cream recipe you can skip all of the little extras – coffee, vanilla, chili, and as long as you keep the cinnamon, you will have an ice cream that tastes just like Mexican hot chocolate.

I’ve made the ice cream both using Ibarra chocolate and using regular chocolate with added cinnamon. Both work fine, though if you use regular chocolate, you can have more control over the quality of the actual chocolate, and the bitterness level (I like bittersweet).

Mexican Chocolate Ice Cream Recipe

  • Yield: Makes 1 quart.

If you have access to Ibarra Mexican chocolate you can use this instead of the semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate and cinnamon called for in the recipe. Use about 1 disk and 4 triangles of the chocolate. After heating with the cream, blend in a blender. Do not add any additional cinnamon as there is enough in the Ibarra.


  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 4 ounces bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • Pinch salt
  • Pinch cayenne
  • Pinch espresso powder (or instant coffee)
  • 6 egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp brandy (optional)


1 Heat one cup of cream in a small saucepan (1 qt). Whisk in cocoa powder. Bring to a simmer. Whisk until cocoa powder is well incorporated. Remove pot from heat. Stir in chocolate until completely incorporate.

2 Put mixture into a metal bowl and add the remaining cup of cream. Set that bowl over a larger bowl half-filled with ice water to help cool it down. Place a mesh sieve over the bowl with the chocolate mixture.

3 Put one cup of milk, the sugar, cinnamon, salt, cayenne, espresso powder (or instant coffee) into a saucepan and heat until steamy (not boiling), stirring to incorporate the spices and dissolve the sugar. Place egg yolks in a medium sized bowl. Slowly pour the heated milk and mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly so that the egg yolks are tempered by the heated milk, but not cooked by it. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

4 Stir the milk egg mixture constantly over medium heat with a wooden spoon, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spoon so that you can run your finger across the coating and have the coating not run. This can take anywhere from 3 to 10 minutes, depending on how hot your burner is.

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If the custard base doesn't coat the back of the spoon, it's not ready.

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The custard base coats the back of the spoon.

5 As soon as the mixture coats the spoon, remove it from the heat and immediately pour it over the mesh sieve into the bowl of the chocolate cream mixture. (The sieve is there to catch any curdled bits.) Stir into the cream mixture.

6 Add a teaspoon of vanilla. Let the mixture cool a bit in the ice bath and then chill in the refrigerator until completely chilled, a couple hours or overnight. Right before churning, add 2 Tbsp of brandy to the mix. This is an optional step, but it will help keep the ice cream from getting too icy if it is stored beyond a day. If you are planning on eating the ice cream the same day you make it, you can skip this step.

7 Churn the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Store ice cream in an airtight container in your freezer for several hours before eating. The ice cream will be quite soft coming out of the ice cream maker, but will continue harden in your freezer. If you store it for more than a day, you may need to let it sit for a few minutes to soften before attempting to scoop it.

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Everything I know about ice cream, I've learned from David Lebovitz and his Perfect Scoop ice cream cookbook. If you love making ice cream, buy this book!

How to make ice cream without an ice cream machine
Cuisinart 1-1/2-Quart Automatic Ice Cream Maker
Cuisinart ICE-50BC Supreme Ice Cream Maker

Showing 4 of 17 Comments / Reviews

  • Thomas

    Instead of adding the cayenne powder, vanilla extract, and ground cinnamon, steep the heavy cream with a cinnamon stick, vanilla bean, small amount of cayenne, and few long strips of orange peel. Let it sit for an hour, covered, after you heat it in the small sauce pan and then strain it. The flavor is so much more pronounced and complex.

  • Danielle

    This looks amazing – I can’t wait to impress people with it! Is there a substitute for the brandy? It’s basically the only booze I don’t have…

  • Diana

    Mexican chocolate is also great in chai…great twist on a classic.

  • Julie

    The ice cream sounds delish! I just made the spiced brownie in last months O magazine with ancho chili powder, cinnamon and fresh ginger, heaven on a plate! Do you have a good recipe for Mexican Hot Chocolate? I had it years ago and loved it!

  • Sweet Loreto

    Hi, first of all thanks for writing such a great blog! I always look forward to your posts. I do have a question about this recipe though. I grew up in Mexico and my mom always made the Mexican hot chocolate with Chocolate Abuelita which is also Mexican chocolate. Here in Loreto Mexico (Baja) Ibarra chocolate is hard to find. I usually buy Chocolate Abuelita. My question is: Does Ibarra Chocolate have sugar? Chocolate Abuelita has a lot of sugar and I’m not sure if I should follow the recipe as is or add less sugar. Also could I use Black and Green Mayan Chocolate?
    Thanks once again for ALL your wonderful post,
    Sweet Loreto

    Yes, Ibarra chocolate has sugar. If you are using prepared Mexican chocolate, you can add less added sugar if you want, but not much less or it will taste more like chocolate whipped cream than ice cream (we made this mistake on one of our trial runs). ~Elise

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